May 8, 2011
LONG BEACH, CA - Nalani St. Germain's two-out RBI single in the bottom of the seventh brought home Bree Stephan with the winning run, lifting host Long Beach State to a series victory over rival Cal State Fullerton with a 1-0 win on Sunday afternoon at the 49er Softball Complex.
The loss was the first in a series finale and the fourth one-run defeat in conference play for the Titans this season as they held solidly onto third place despite falling to 22-22 overall and 11-7 in Big West Conference. Fullerton, which leads UC Santa Barbara and Cal State Northridge (8-10) by three games in the standings, is three games back of league-leading Pacific (14-4) and two back of Long Beach State (13-5) with three regular season games remaining against Cal State Northridge at home next week.
The 49ers, who finish with a three-game series at last-place UC Riverside, improved to 35-15 overall and stayed within striking distance of the Tigers, who finish at Cal Poly, for the league title with one weekend remaining.
St. Germain's winner came after Fullerton's Ari Cervantes (15-13) and Long Beach State's Erin Jones-Wesley (21-5) matched zeros through six innings, stranding a combined 16 runners on base over that stretch - including 10 in scoring position (six by the Titans) and another thrown out at the plate (the 49ers' Catrin DeBaun by the Titans' Leesa Harris in the first inning).
Stephan got the 49ers started with a lead-off single in the seventh and moved to second on an infield hit by Hannah De Gaetano. After a fielder's choice put runners on the corners with two down, St. Germain laced a 2-1 pitch to left, driving home the winning tally.
Cervantes suffered the hard-luck loss, allowing just the single run on nine hits, walking two and striking out four in 6 2/3 innings of work. Jones-Wesley was just as good, scattering seven hits and striking out three in posting the complete-game shutout.
Fullerton finished with runners in scoring position in every inning but the fifth, leaving runners at second and third in the second inning, runners at the corners following a lead-off triple by K.C. Craddick in the third, and the bases loaded in the seventh after an infield single and two hit batters. The Titans were 0-for-11 with runners in scoring position and left 12 runners on base for the game.
Long Beach State's offense was equally as frustrated, getting back-to-back singles to lead-off the first, only to leave empty-handed after DeBaun was thrown out at the plate to end the inning. The 49ers also left runners at second and third in the second inning and a runner at second in the fifth to no avail.
Craddick finished 2-for-4 to collect her second multi-hit game of the weekend while Cervantes also tried to help her own cause with a 2-for-3 day at the plate. De Gaetano, Stephan, and Jennifer Madigan each had two hits for Long Beach State.
Fullerton's season-ending series with the Matadors opens on Friday (May 13) at 4 p.m. with a doubleheader at Anderson Family Field and concludes with a single game on Saturday (May 14) at Noon.