May 27, 2012
Fullerton, Calif. - Freshman J.D. Davis hit a big three-run home run and freshman Kenny Mathews came up huge in the biggest game of his young Titan career as he four-hit the 49ers for eight-plus innings as No. 12 Cal State Fullerton beat Long Beach State, 5-1, Sunday afternoon to clinch sole possession of the Big West Conference championship and the automatic berth to the NCAA postseason at Blair Field.
Fullerton will play in the postseason for the 34th time in 38 years at the Div. I level and will be making their 21st consecutive appearance in an NCAA Regional. Fullerton compiled a 35-19 regular season record and won the conference by one game over Cal Poly with a 17-7 league mark. Titan Rick Vanderhook wins his first conference championship in his first season as Titan head coach.
The Titans had just one hit through the first six innings against losing pitcher Shawn Stuart (7-1), but came through with five hits and four runs in the top of the seventh. Ivory Thomas gave the Titans their first lead-off base runner of the game with a single to left. Thomas then stole second and came home on a chopper by Michael Lorenzen that cleared the infield to make it 1-0. Lorenzen stole second and moved to third on a single by Anthony Hutting and Matt Chapman popped out foul to the first baseman for the second out of the inning. Davis worked the count to 1-2 before hitting the line-drive out to left, and end Stuart's season.
Mathews was on his game, tossing just 82 pitches into the ninth inning. More impressively, the southpaw threw just seven pitches that were not fastballs to improve to 6-2 on the year. He had retired nine in a row and surrendered just two hits before Jonathan Kim's pinch-hit double in the eighth inning.
Kim came around to score when first baseman Carlos Lopez dropped the would-be third out at first on a throw from shortstop. The run was unearned.
Fullerton had also scored an unearned run in the eighth. Lorenzen sacrifice-fly to left drove home the Titans' fifth and final run. Richy Pedroza, who should have been out on a fielder's choice, scored after moving to third on a wild pitch.
Mathew emerged from the Titan dugout to start the ninth inning but an Ino Patron single to lead off the final frame, ended his afternoon. He handed the ball to Michael Lorenzen who got the final three outs of the game. The Titans now await the NCAA 64-team field selection Monday morning at 9 a.m. The selection show will air on ESPNU.