May 1, 2010
Stockton, Calif. - Sophomore Nick Ramirez had two hits, drove in four runs and pitched two scoreless innings in relief to lead Cal State Fullerton to an 11-7 Big West Conference win over Pacific Saturday night at Klein Family Field.
The Titans win their ninth in a row and their 15th in their last 17 games and also pick up their seventh consecutive series win to improve to 27-13 overall and 12-2 in league play. The Tigers fall to 25-16 and droop to 7-7 in Big West games.
The Titans now have a three-game lead over second-place UC Irvine (playing in a non-conference series with Cal State Bakersfield) and a 4.5 game lead over third-place UC Riverside. Pacific and Long Beach drop to 5.0 games back with Saturday night losses.
The Titans offense had a lot of work to do needing to overcome eight walks, a hit batter and three fielding errors from the defensive side. Every starter for the Titans had at least on hit with freshman Casey Watkins leading the way with three knocks on the night. Ramirez' four RBI were definitely important, but Richie Pedroza provided the on that was the difference in the fifth, an RBI single up the middle to drive home Watkins, who had doubled, with the eighth Titan run.
Daniel Renken (7-2) picked up his fourth win in as many starts despite not having his best stuff on the mound. The right-hander allowed only three hits over five innings, but walked five and hit a batter contributing to the six runs (four earned) he surrendered. Renken did strike out five before handing the ball off to Colin O'Connell to start the sixth inning.
The Titans potent offense handed Tiger ace David Rowse (7-1) his first loss of the season. The southpaw worked just 4.1 giving up eight earned runs on nine of the Titans' 15 hits on the night while striking out three. Reliever Hunter Carnevale was touched for three more runs on six hits over the next three frames.
Doubles by Corey Jones and Watkins got the Titans on the board first in the second inning, and though it would get close at times, they would never look back. A Joey Siddons bunt single and stolen base later, Pedroza made it 2-0 with the would-be game-winner, a run-scoring grounder to short.
The first hit of the game for Pacific got them a one in the run column as Joe Oliveira took Renken's first pitch over the left field wall in the bottom half of the inning to cut the Fullerton lead to 2-1.
It looked as if the Titans took control of the game in the fourth, scoring four times, but the Tigers again punched back with three in their half of the inning.
In the top of the fourth, Jones was hit by a pitch to lead off the inning and after Billy Marcoe flied out, singles by Watkins and Siddons loaded the bases. Jones was retired at the plate on a fielder's choice for the second out, but then Christian Colon singled home two with a knock to right. Colon stole second to put a pair of Titan in scoring position for Ramirez, batting in the three-hole for the first time this season. The Fullerton first baseman promptly drove in two with a single to right, and in doing so, gave the Titans a brief 6-1 lead and extended his current hitting streak to 19 games.
In the Pacific half of the fourth the Tigers scored their first of three runs on two Renken walks and a fielding error by Pedroza attempting to field a Ben Gorang sacrifice bunt. Nick Longmire then doubled for the third time in the series to drive home two and get Pacific back to within two runs at 6-4.
The see-saw game continued in the fifth inning as both Fullerton and Pacific plated two runs in their respective innings. Watkins doubled home Jones (HBP) and scored on Pedroza's two-out single off reliever Hunter Carnevale.
J.B. Brown walked with one out and went to third on Oliveira's double down the left field line. Renken tied to back-pick Oliveira at second, but threw the ball away allowing Brown to score. With Oliveira at third, John Haberman's groundout to second scored the run to make it 8-6 after five.
The Tigers got to within one run in the sixth at 8-7 on a controversial balk call with runners at the corners. With the runner Brett Christopher heading to second, reliever Colin O'Connell stepped off and threw to second, seemingly retiring the runner at second. But after a lengthly conference by the umpiring crew, it was ruled that a balk was committed before the move to second by O'Connell, scoring Matt Fuson from third and overriding the out at second.
Fullerton piled on three much needed runs in the top of the eighth after it looked as if the momentum had shifted in Pacific's favor. Colon walked and moved around to third as Brown's sacrifice bunt was thrown away. Ramirez singled home both runners with a hard hit ball up the middle ten proceeded to steal second. He moved to third as Tyler Pill poked a single to right on a high outside pitch to left and then came home as Jones lofted a sacrifice fly to center, deep enough to get Ramirez home.
Side-winder Derrick Dingeman struck out the two Tigers he faced in relief of O'Connell before handing the ball over to Ramirez for the final two innings. Ramirez logged a strikeout and surrendered three hits without allowing a run in his time on the mound.
The Titans and Tigers will face off for the series finale tomorrow afternoon at 1 p.m. at Klein Family Field.