FULLERTON, Calif. – The Cal State Fullerton softball team split a doubleheader against Big West foe UC Riverside at Anderson Family Field on Saturday. UCR was triumphant in game one, 6-3, behind two crucial three-run innings, while CSF was led by Christina Washington's second career complete game en route to a 4-2 decision in the night cap.
Following today's Big West doubleheader, the Titans move to (24-16-1, 5-3) while the Highlanders conclude the day with a mark of (20-21, 1-7) after the split between the two teams.
GAME TWO: Cal State Fullerton 4, UC Riverside 2
The Titans took advantage of a pair of illegal pitches and four walks in the sixth inning to steal game two of the doubleheader. Senior Ariel Tsuchiyama chipped in a crucial RBI single in the frame and freshman Christina Washington held on for seven stellar innings.
Tsuchiyama was the only Titan to mark a multi-hit performance, batting 3-for-4 with one RBI and extending her hitting streak to a career-high eight games.
Washington (8-5) eclipsed the 90 inning mark for overall season inning totals, tossing a complete game four-hitter, yielding zero earned runs to the Highlanders. While not entirely overpowering opposing batters translating into zero strikeouts, the left-hander had superb command issuing only one walk.
Fullerton finally got on the board in the fourth inning off of UCR starter, Sophie Slagle. Tsuchiyama led off with a double to left center, immediately pulled for pinch runner and fellow senior Jena Rubio. Melissa Sechrest executed a perfect sacrifice bunt to move Rubio over to second while Gabby Aragon immediately followed by reaching base after being hit by a pitch.
With Lauren Mario at the dish, Aragon broke for second while Rubio used perfect timing to steal home for her sixth swipe of the year. Mario roped her fifth double of the season into left center, scoring Aragon and placing the Titans in a 2-0 lead. Mario batted 1-for-2 with one RBI.
Slagle (5-7) tossed all 6 innings in the loss, issuing five walks and surrendering four earned runs. The right-hander committed a handful of illegal pitches throughout the game that proved to sway the momentum.
The Highlanders produced a two-out rally in the top of the sixth inning as Dionne Anderson led off with a single to right field. Ashley Ercolano drew a walk while Haley Harris later followed by reaching base on a throwing error by shortstop Aragon, scoring Anderson. Natalie Sanchez hit a clutch double down the left field line to score Ercolano and notch the game up at 2 apiece.
In the final rally, the Titans used a great deal of patience in the bottom of the sixth inning. Samatha Galarza, Carissa Turang and Paige Kisling took advantage of several illegal pitches in their at bats and consecutively drew walks to begin the inning. Kisling was given the free pass home after another illegal pitch by Slagle.
Missy Taukeiaho soon followed by being intentionally walked while Tsuchiyama delivered the final blow with an RBI single into right field, extending the lead to 4-2. Washington shut the door in the bottom of the inning after working around an error to clinch her eight win of the season.
GAME ONE: UC Riverside 6, Cal State Fullerton 3
UC Riverside rode the back of starter Alyssa Razo in a complete game nine-hitter, while the Highlander offense produced two three-run innings to hold off the Titans in game one of the doubleheader.
Razo (11-11) tossed 7 innings while issuing only one walk and fanning five Titans. The right-hander stranded five Fullerton runners on base en route to her 11th victory of the season.
Fullerton starter Monique Wesley labored in the opening inning as Karina Romero doubled over the head of right fielder Mario. Ashley Ercolano immediately followed with a single down the left field line, advancing Romero to third. Haley Harris grounded into a fielder's choice, scoring Romero. Kaylie Atkinson extended the inning with a sharp double down the left field line, bringing across Harris and Ercolano to propel the Highlanders to an early 3-0 lead.
Wesley (3-4) tossed a combined 5 and 1/3 innings, yielding three earned runs and walking two. The sophomore fanned two Highlanders while surrendering six hits.
Fullerton began to chip away in the bottom of the frame as Tsuchiyama extended her hitting streak to seven games with a double into the left center gap. First baseman Sechrest drove Tsuchiyama in with an RBI single to right field, cutting the deficit down to 3-1.
The Titans would reach closer on a solo round-tripper by senior Aragon in the bottom of the fourth inning. The shot to left center was her sixth home run on the year, concluding the game batting 2-for-2 with two RBI and scoring one run.
The Fullerton pitching staff lost control in the sixth inning as the Highlanders tacked on three more runs without the benefit of a hit. A fielding error by Sechrest to begin the inning was the start of carousel of base runners. UCR drew five total walks in the inning, three of which were issued on four straight balls.
Trailing 6-2, the Titans challenged once again in the sixth inning as Taukeiaho extended her career-high 10 game hitting streak with a single into right field. Galarza later followed with an RBI single to center field, bringing around Taukeiaho to score. Taukeiaho batted 2-for-4 with one run scored from the lead off position.
Fullerton loaded the bases again in the final frame after Turang singled to center, Paige Kisling drew a walk and Taukeiaho singled to right. Tsuchiyama lifted a fly ball to right field to end the rally as UC Riverside clinched the game one victory.
The Titans and Highlanders will complete the three-game series in the rubber match tomorrow at 12 p.m. at Anderson Family Field in Fullerton, Calif.