LOS ANGELES – The Cal State Fullerton softball team scored two runs in the seventh inning to break a tie game and defeat No. 18 Fresno State, 6-4, Friday afternoon at the NCAA Los Angeles Regional and move into the winner's bracket.
With the win, the Titans improve to 44-14 on the year and will play the winner of the CSU Bakersfield-UCLA game on Saturday, May 21 at noon. Meanwhile, the Bulldogs fall to 41-11-1 overall and will play on Saturday at approximately 3 p.m.
"That was a really intense game," Cal State Fullerton head coach Kelly Ford said. "We got pushed and we pushed back. Fresno State is a great program, so we had very tough competition today, but we pushed hard and came away with the win."
The Titans tried to get thing started early as they loaded the bases with two outs in the top of the first, but were unable to score a run as the Bulldogs' starter, Jill Compton (24-6), pitched herself out of the jam.
Senior left-handed pitcher Desiree Ybarra got the start for Cal State Fullerton. She hit a rough patch in the second inning and Fresno State pounced. Paige Gumz roped a double down the rightfield line and advanced to third on an error before coming around to score the first run of the game on a wild pitch to give Fresno State a 1-0 lead.
Trailing 1-0, senior third baseman Missy Taukeiaho gave the Titans a 2-1 lead the top of the third after sending her 10th home run of the season over the leftfield fence. With Samantha Vandiver on base after drawing a leadoff walk, Taukaieho's blast put Cal State Fullerton up by one.
However, Fresno State would not go quietly as the Bulldogs regained their one-run lead in the bottom of the third as Kierra Willis belted a two-run homer to right-centerfield to put the Bulldogs up 3-2.
Following the home run, Cal State Fullerton made a pitching change as freshman right-hander Sydney Golden (18-5) came on to relieve Ybarra.
The Titans fought back and evened the score at 3-3 after Kylie Padilla drew a leadoff walk and Jasmine Antunez came in to pinch run. Antunez promptly moved to second on a passed ball, then advanced to third on a sac bunt by Sydney Colenzo. Cal State Fullerton called for Sarah Moore to grab a bat as the senior singled back up the middle to drive in Antunez and tie the game at 3-3.
Taukeiaho led off the fifth on a four-pitch walk and moved to third courtesy of a ground out and a fly out before scoring the go-ahead run on a bloop single to left by Courtney Rodriguez.
The back-and-forth game continued as the Bulldogs knotted the score once again in the bottom of the fifth as they took advantage of a pair of Titan errors to make it a 4-4 ballgame.
With the game tied up heading into the seventh inning, the Titans led off the frame with a pair of singles through the left side. Melissa Sechrest singled to left to load the bases, however, an errant throw from left allowed Vandiver to come around and score the go-ahead run.
Rodriguez stepped to the plate with runners at second and third with one out and registered an RBI-ground out to short which plated Taukeiaho and gave the Titans the insurance run they needed.
Golden came back out in the bottom of the seventh and after allowing a leadoff walk, retired the next three batters to preserve the win and send the Titans into the winner's bracket with a 6-4 victory.
Golden earned the win, her 18th of the year, while Compton suffered the loss.
Taukeiaho finished the game batting 2-for-2 with a home run, two walks, three runs scored and two RBIs. Rodriguez went 2-for-4 with two runs batted in, while Vandiver was 1-for-3 with a pair of runs scored.