LONG BEACH, Calif. – Cal State Fullerton blasted nine runs off of 13 hits, as it cruised to a 9-3 victory over Long Beach State in Thursday's series opener at Blair Field in front of a nationally televised audience.
Sahid Valenzuela recorded his team-best seventh three-hit game of the season, scored three runs, popped a double and drove in one to go along with another web gem, while Birthday boy Jacob Pavletich went 2-for-4 with two doubles and a career-high three RBI.
Well that's an exciting way to end the ball game @Sahidv04 . Cal State Fullerton takes Game One, 9-3. A potential #SCTop10 moment again this week?#TusksUp | #EverythingTogether pic.twitter.com/5eousEz3sF— Titan Baseball (@BaseballTitans) May 25, 2018
It's almost getting repetitive at this point, but Hank LoForte once again extended his hit streak to 14 consecutive games and his on base streak to 37 games after going 2-for-5 with a double and two runs scored. He's picked up at least one knock in 25 of his last 26 contests.
I don't know about you but I'm feeling 22!!! @jakepav23 watches his second hit of the day for a two bagger to make it a 7-0 lead for the Titans#TusksUp | #EverythingTogether | #HappyBirthday pic.twitter.com/jxIjMJQRi9— Titan Baseball (@BaseballTitans) May 25, 2018
Mitchell Berryhill went 2-for-4 from the plate with a double, RBI and run scored. Brett Borgogno also produced a double, a run and an RBI, while Jairus Richards also blasted a double and scored a run. Ruben Cardenas picked up two RBI on a hit. Zach Weller recorded an RBI on the night.
In fact eight of nine Titan starter produced a hit
Colton Eastman (W, 9-3) was absolutely spectacular in what likely was his last regular season start of his collegiate career. He made the start and earned the win, tossing 5.0 shutout innings while striking out six, only walking one and only surrendering two hits on an abbreviated start. He was on a 60-pitch pitch count.
In three career starts at Blair Field, Eastman went a perfect 3-0, with a 0.44 ERA in 20.1 IP while picking up 23 punch outs. In his first two starts at Blair Field, Eastman was the winning pitcher in Fullerton's Big West championship clinching game in 2016 and of course earned a victory in a winner-take-all game three to send the Titans to Omaha last year. He improves to a perfect 11-0 against Big West opponents in his career.
.@EastmanColton isn't shy about it. He LOVES beating Long Beach State. It shows on and off the field.— Titan Baseball (@BaseballTitans) May 25, 2018
He ends his career a perfect 3-0 with a 0.44 ERA in 20.1 IP and 23 punch outs in three all-time starts at Blair Field#TusksUp | #EverythingTogether pic.twitter.com/gtmTmwbJYE
The Titans began this one in typical Titan small ball fashion, as LoForte laid down a perfect bunt single to begin the contest and then advanced to second on a throwing error by Zak Baayoun. Berryhill then showed why he ranks fourth in all of the nation in sacrifice bunts, laying down his 18th of the year to move LoForte to third base. Cardenas gounded out to shortstop, but it was good enough to bring home LoForte and make it a 1-0 Fullerton lead.
Fullerton manufactured another run in the second, as Valenzuela doubled to left center to extend his hit streak to 13 games. He then took advantage of another LBSU throwing error and advanced to third, this one a wild throw by catcher Chris Jimenez. The birthday boy Pavletich then recorded the RBI, as a deep sacrifice fly to right field allowed Valenzuela to sprint home from third and extend the advantage to 2-0.
The Titan bats kept churning in the fourth, striking for two more runs off of three hits. Cope got things started with a base knock to left center, Valenzuela then followed with a single to left field. Pavletich kept that birthday magic going, as he blasted a double down the left field line to score Valenzuela and make it 3-0.
Weller recorded his first RBI of the season with an RBI ground out to second to make it 4-0 heading into the bottom of the fourth.
Fullerton then busted the door open in the seventh, striking for two more runs off of three knocks. Richards got things started with a one out double to right field, Borgogno then followed suit, doubling in Richards with a two bagger to left field.
With the Titans up 5-0, Berryhill reached on LBSU's fourth fielding error of the evening, to put runners at the corners. Cardenas made the 49ers pay, driving a ball up the middle for an RBI single to make it a 6-0 Titan lead.
Pavletich's birthday party continued in the eighth, as he blasted a double all the way off the fence in left center to score Valenzuela after working a leadoff walk to put Fullerton up a touchdown at 7-0.
The 49ers tried to rally late, striking for three in the eighth, but it wasn't nearly enough as Fullerton responded with a two spot of its own in the ninth.
LoForte led things off with a triple down the right field line, Berryhill then brought him home to score with a single up the middle. Cardenas worked a walk and then Cope reached on a fielder's choice, allowing Berryhill to reach third. Valenzuela kept his efficient night going, as he poked a base hit through the right side to allowing Berryhill to come in to score, extending the Titan advantage to 9-3. That would be the final margin.
Fullerton aims to claim the series win tomorrow at 6 pm PT.
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