FULLERTON, Calif. – Cal State Fullerton (23-20, 8-1 BWC) took both games against No. 18 Long Beach State (33-9, 7-2 BWC) on Saturday to win the series and take sole possession of first place in the Big West standings.
Trish Parks got the start in game number one and would have the tough task facing off against Cielo Meza. Not only did Parks have a fantastic game in the circle, she out-dueled Meza going all seven innings, only allowing one run on four hits and two walks. She also struck out four en route to the victory.
The Titan offense was held in check, for the most part, but it was enough to pick up the 'W.' The top three in the lineup supplied all of the offense with Ari Williams leading the way going 2-3 with an RBI and a run scored. Brooke Clemetson went 1-3 with a run, while Sammie Vandiver went 1-3 with an RBI.
Long Beach struck right out of the gate plating a run in the top half of the first inning on a wild pitch from Parks. However, Fullerton would answer right back as Clemetson led things off with a triple to left field and come in to score on a single from Vandiver.
That was the score until the fourth inning as both pitchers were dealing. Williams broke the tie in the home half with an absolute moonshot down the left field line. It was her first home run of the season and came in a huge spot as it proved to be the difference in the ballgame.
In the fifth inning, with the Titans trying to get some offense going, Clemetson would reach on a fielder's choice with two down. On pitch number two to Vandiver, she took off for second and dove in safely. For the senior speedster, it was her 28th stolen base of the season, setting the single-season record in Fullerton softball history.
Parks in the process of out-pitching Meza, had a streak where she retired 16 of 19 batters from the end of the first inning through the sixth inning. In that five-plus inning span, she did not allow a single hit until the 49ers got two in the top of the seventh.
Ultimately, she finished what she started as the Titans evened the series with a 2-1 victory.
Game two of the day and the rubber match of the series was up next. Not only that, but the two ball clubs were once again tied atop the Big West standings meaning the winner would take sole possession.
After a dominant game one, Parks would get the start once again in game number two. Things did not go smoothly for her this time around as she would be lifted after just 1.1 innings. However, she would end up returning the circle and recording the final four outs of the ballgame. Overall, Fullerton used five pitchers with Parks totaling 2.2 innings, Sophie Frost going 1.2 innings, Hannah Johnson faced one batter, Taylor Dockins pitched two innings, and Kenzie Grimes threw 0.2 innings.
Offensively, the game was all over the place but Julia Valenzuela led the way going 2-4 with three RBI, including a two-run, two-RBI walkoff double. Brooke Clemetson, Sammie Vandiver, and Ari Williams all went 1-4 while Bryanna Ybarra went 1-3. Zoe Richard went 1-1 with three walks and Irieanna Siofele went 1-1 with a pinch hit RBI single.
Once again, the 49er offense got going early plating a run in the top half of the first after three straight singles. They would also come back in the second inning and strike for three and one more in the fourth as they opened up a 5-0 lead halfway through the contest.
Fullerton only scored four runs combined in the first two ballgames, but was ready to change that this time around. Trailing by five, the Titan offense put up five runs of their own in the bottom of the fourth inning alone.
Vandiver collected the first hit of the ballgame and would come in to score on a bases loaded walk to Richard for the first Titan run of the contest. An error on the next play allowed the second Fullerton run to come in to score and the station-to-station offense was in full effect. Siofele lined one into right field to plate the third run and Valenzuela would beat out an infield single to bring in the fourth run. Clemetson followed up with a single through the left side to tie up the game and it was a brand new contest.
Long Beach would reclaim the lead in the fifth on an RBI single from Nichole Fry and tack on another in the sixth courtesy of a bases loaded hit by pitch.
Down to their final three outs, the Titans needed two to tie and three to win. Williams got things started with a leadoff single and proceeded to steal second. She would come in to score on an RBI single off the bat of Ybarra. After a Richard walk and an error allowed Brannan to reach, the bases were full of Titans with just one out in the inning.
Freshman Sam Kennedy would ground it to short and the out was recorded at the plate to set the scene for Valenzuela. With the bases still loaded, she would come to the plate with two outs and still trailing by one run. But the sophomore catcher got a pitch to drive and didn't miss. Lining it into left-center, the ball would get all the way to the wall and go as a two-RBI walk-off double.
It would go down as a double-header sweep and a series victory Fullerton. In the bigger picture, it puts the Titans in sole possession of first place in the Big West Conference standings.
Cal State Fullerton will be back in action as they hit the road and head to the islands to take on Hawaii for a three-game set next weekend.
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