Clark Powers Titans Past Strasburg, Aztecs

May 15, 2008

Box Score

Fullerton, Calif. - Jared Clark's two-run home run off reigning national pitcher of the week Stephen Strasburg in the first inning powered No. 8 Cal State Fullerton to a 4-3 non-conference win over visiting San Diego State Thursday night at Goodwin Field.

The Titans improved to 33-17 on the year in the rare Thursday night affair (due to Cal State Fullerton's commencement exercises on Sunday). San Diego State fell to 30-24.

On the day the right-hander was named a semi-finalist for the Roger Clemens Award, Strasburg (8-2)surrendered four runs on eight Titan hits while striking out just 3 and took the loss. Clark's homer was the first that the San Diego State hurler had given up in his career spanning 122 innings.

Jeff Kaplan did not look as if he was going to make it through the third inning, much less pick up his 10th win of the year. But the senior battled through six innings, tossing nearly 130 pitches to improve to 10-1.

Kaplan scattered five hits on the night, but walked five and seemed to be in trouble through the first four innings. He forced the Aztecs to strand three runners in the first, two in the second, and three in the fourth and it would have been more if not for a strike-him-out, throw-him-out, throw-him-out triple play in the third. The righty gave up two quick hits to Nick Romero and Garrett Green to lead things off setting up a first and third situation. With the runner from first running on the 3-2 pitch, Kaplan struck out Brandon Glover for the first out. Dustin Garneau then threw down to Joe Scott covering second and he ran the runner back to first then made a tag for the second out. All the while, Romero inched off third, and was caught off guard as Scott turned inside and fired to Joel Weeks to complete the typical K-2-4-5 triple play.

Kaplan allowed just one run over the six innings of work, coming in the second inning. Brett Tanos doubled home Erik Castro, who singled and was balked to second. Kaplan set down the last eight men he faced after loading the bases with an HBP in the fourth.

Strasburg, the winner of five straight Mountain West Conference Pitcher of the Week nods, ran in to trouble again in his final inning of work. Clark singled to center to lead things off, then moved around to third on two consecutive deep fly balls. Weeks then drew a walk setting up a Dustin Garneau's two-run double. Clark easily scored, and Weeks also came around to score with some aggressive base-running all the way from first. The Titans led 4-1.

With Kaplan done for the night, Fullerton went to Jason Dovel who was lifted just four batters into the seventh inning. A triple, a double and a single after a very deep fly ball to the gap made for a short night for the southpaw. Troy Hanzawa's double drove home San Diego State's second run, and then he scored the third on a sacrifice-fly by Glover off reliever Michael Morrison.

Morrison worked 1.2 innings of one-hit relief before giving way to Adam Jorgenson who notched his eighth save of the season with a scoreless ninth.

Brandon Pullen, James McLaughlin and Chase Thomas, combined for two innings of scoreless relief in the loss.

Romero and Tanos tallied a pair of hits each for the Aztecs, while Josh Fellhauer, Christian Colon, Erik Komatsu and Clark all did the same. The Titans' 1-4 hitters were 8-for-15 on the night with 3 runs scored. Gary Brown extended his hitting streak to seven games with an 8th-inning single.

The two teams will square off Friday night for the second game of the series with Daniel Renken pitching for the Titans and Nate Solow going for the Aztecs. Game time is 7 p.m.

NOTES: There was no record of the last triple play for Cal State Fullerton in the press box during game time. But research showed that there has not been one for Fullerton dating back to at least 1999. The Titans were, however, victims of the triple play on two occasions, once in 2003, the other in 2005.