May 9, 2009
SAN LUIS OBISPO, CA - Three Cal State Fullerton players finished with a pair of hits on the afternoon and the Titans repelled a late rally by UC Santa Barbara to edge the Gauchos, 6-5, and complete a sweep of their Big West Conference series to close out the regular season on Saturday afternoon at Bob Janssen Field in San Luis Obispo.
Fullerton improved to 29-19 overall and finished the year 17-4 in league play for second place, one game behind Cal Poly, which clinched the regular season title with an 11-1 win over UC Riverside and finished with an 18-3 mark in the Big West. UC Santa Barbara ended its regular season at 26-25 overall and 9-12 in conference play.
That set the stage for a big inning for Fullerton in the sixth as the Titans sent eight batters to the plate and scored four times to claim a seemingly insurmountable 6-0 lead. Anderson and Ari Cervantes had RBI hits in the inning, Lauren Lupinetti added a sacrifice fly, and yet another run came home on a wild pitch to give Cal State Fullerton the 6-0 advantage.
UC Santa Barbara responded with two runs in the sixth as back-to-back one out hits and a hit batter loaded the bases for Katie McWhirter, who singled to right to drive home a run and spoil the shutout. Kelsey Anderson then hit a shot off Cervantes in the circle that deflected to Samantha Dollarhide at second base for the out, but it was enough to score Jessica Beristianos to make it a 6-2 contest.
The Titans tried to muster up a rally in the seventh to get the runs back as a pair of singles with one out by Nicole Johnson and Courtney Martinez put a pair on, but UCSB freshman Krista Cobb, who entered in relief in the sixth, struck out the next two batters to quash the rally and keep the deficit at four runs.
The Gauchos continued to apply the heat in the seventh, loading the bases against Cervantes with load-off singles by Jackie Conlin and Christine Ramos and a fielder's choice back to the circle by Jessica Ziegler. Tiffany Wright then skied a ball to centerfield, deep enough to score Conlin to make it 6-3 and chase Cervantes from the game.
A wild pitch from reliever Krystal Heinle brought home the fourth run of the game for UCSB and, after a walk put runners on the corners, Amanda Ziegler made it a one-run game with a comebacker to the circle that deflected off the pitcher and over to second base, allowing Jessica Ziegler to score and make it 6-5.
With the tying run now in scoring position, Heinle shut the door, inducing a ground ball back to the circle that she handled and threw on to first to end the game.
Cervantes (19-10) earned the win in the circle for the Titans, charged with the five runs on eight hits in 6 1/3 innings, while Heinle earned her first career save by getting the finale two outs of the game.
Starter Tami Weston (2-4) suffered the loss for the Gauchos, allowing four runs on five hits and walking six in five innings of work. MeLinda Matsumoto pitched one-third of an inning in relief, allowing two runs on three hits before giving way to Cobb, who allowed just two hits in 1 2/3 innings of work.
Anderson finished with a pair of hits and two RBI to lead the Titans while Courtney Martinez (2-for-2) and Cervantes (2-for-4) also finished with multiple hits to lead a 10-hit Fullerton attack. Beristianos finished 3-for-3 at the plate to lead the Gauchos.
With the regular season now behind them, Cal State Fullerton now awaits the decision of the NCAA Tournament selection committee as to their postseason fate. The field of 64 teams for the 2009 NCAA Tournament will be announced on Sunday (May 10) at 7 p.m. PDT on ESPNU.