Titans Hold On to Edge Bruins, 4-3

June 12, 2010

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Los Angeles - Nick Ramirez delivered the key base hit and later pitched out of a huge ninth-inning jam to save Cal State Fullerton's 4-3 victory Friday night over UCLA in the opening game of an NCAA best 2-out-of 3 Super Regional.

Ramirez picked up his 11th save after stranding runners at first and third with no outs in the ninth. His bases-loaded single keyed a 3-run fourth inning and Christian Colon's solo home run in the fifth proved the decisive run. Fullerton improved to 46-16 and UCLA fell to 46-14 after its third loss of the year to the Titans, who also have won 19 of the last 22 meetings.

The teams play game No. 2 at 4 p.m. Saturday. Daniel Renken will pitch for Fullerton against Trevor Bauer.

Fullerton starter Noe Ramirez (12-1) fanned 13, one shy of his career high, and allowed only six hits and one earned run to pick up the win. He pitched out of a bases-loaded, no-out jam in the seventh. UCLA's Gerrit Cole (10-3) went 6.2 innings for the Bruins, allowing 5 hits and four runs while striking out seven.

Nick Ramirez walked Beau Amaral to open the ninth and Blair Dunlap singled to center. Amaral went to third when catcher Billy Marcoe blocked a pitch in the dirt but couldn't pick up the ball in time to throw him out. Dunlap was picked off first and tagged out in a rundown for the first out. Ramirez struck out Tyler Rahmatulla on the next pitch and then retired pinch hitter Chris Giovanazzo on a ground ball to short.

After getting only one baserunner over the first three innings, the Titans bunched two hits, a walk and a hit batsman for three runs in the fourth. Richie Pedroza drew a leadoff walk and Corey Jones was hit by a pitch. Tyler Pill squared to bunt before pulling the bat back and taking a full swing that produced a fly ball into short right field, where Brent Krill couldn't make a diving attempt at a catch and the Titans had their first hit.

Nick Ramirez lined a single to left center to put Fullerton ahead, 2-1, and send Pill to third. After Marcoe bounced back to the mound, Carlos Lopez hit a fly ball to shallow center. Pill tagged and came home as Amaral's throw was late and wide. Colon pulled a pitch into the left field corner for his 17th home run to make it 4-1 in the fifth.

The Bruins jumped on Noe Ramirez early. Amaral hit his first pitch into the gap in left center for a double and he scored on Rahmatulla's one-out double off the right-field wall. Ramirez recovered to strike out the side and he fanned two more in the second.

"I'm thrilled to death that we won, but it doesn't surprise me that it happened that way," said Fullerton Head Coach Dave Serranno. "For whatever reason, this team has decided to do everything difficult.

"The baseball gods allowed us to win this game. We made mistakes but they stayed strong and showed toughness and found a way to get it done."

Both teams wasted several other promising scoring opportunities.

The Bruins left a man at second in each of the first three innings and again in the sixth, squandering three stolen bases in the process.

Fullerton wasted a leadoff double by Pill in the sixth when Marcoe and Lopez struck out after Nick Ramirez' grounder to second had moved him to third. The Titans put runners on first and third with one out in the seventh when Walker Moore reached on an error and Colon slapped a hit-and-run single past shortstop Niko Gallego. Pedroza bunted Colon to second as Moore held. Cole hit Jones to load the bases and bring on lefthanded reliever Matt Grace, who struck out Pill on four pitches.

The Bruins loaded the bases with no outs in their seventh, benefitting from Fullerton miscues.

Gelalich led off with a single and was safe at second when Jones dropped Colon's throw after fielding a ground ball by Brill. Gelalich was caught off second when Gallego bunted through a pitch but Marcoe threw behind him and he stole third ahead of Jones' relay. Ramirez walked Gallego on a 3-2 pitch. He then struck out Steve Rodriguez and Amaral before Dunlap scorched a liner that Colon caught with a perfectly timed leap to save two or three runs.

Rahmatulla doubled to lead off the eighth and went to third when the relay into the infield got away. Ramirez came out in favor of Raymond Hernandez, making his third appearance in three games and third of the season. He struck out Cody Regis but then hit pinch-hitter Justin Uribe. Gelalich hit a comebacker that Hernandez knocked down and then threw wildly to home allowing Rammatulla to score and Gelalich and Uribe to end up on second and third. Hernandez struck out Brill before Gallego beat out a slow roller to short for an RBI single. Pinch-hitter Marc Navarro popped up the first pitch to short.