OUCH: UCI baseball went 0-4 last week, dropping consecutive games on walk-off home runs.
CSUF 5, UCI 2
On Friday night in Fullerton at Goodwin Field, as the baseball world watched on ESNPU, the no. 4 Cal State Fullerton Titans broke up a no-hitter in the seventh inning, scoring five runs to take the first game of the series 5-2 over no. 24-ranked UC Irvine.
With starting RHP Andrew Thurman on the mound for the ’Eaters, the junior held the Titans scoreless through six. After walking the first and the third Fullerton batters faced, Thurman sat down the next 13. With a season-high four walks in the outing, Thurman falls to 5-4 on the season with the loss.
Sophomore Connor Spencer led the ’Eaters offensively, going two-for-four with an RBI and a run scored. Junior Dominique Taylor also recorded two hits on Friday, while Taylor Sparks and Chris Rabago both reached base on a hit.
Facing four over the minimum through six, Thurman held the Titans scoreless and hitless as Irvine headed into the bottom half of the inning to break up the standstill.
Taylor singled to left, followed by a double from Spencer to score Taylor for the first run in the contest. Sparks grounded to third as the ball fooled the third baseman after taking a bad hop, to score Spencer from second. Irvine was on the board with a 2-0 lead going into the seventh.
Fullerton’s Michael Lorenzen led off for the Titans with a single up the middle to end the no-hitter. The Titans would break it open, and plated four runs before Thurman handed off the ball to Mitch Merten. Just one more run would score in the seventh, and it would be enough for the Titans to take the first game of the series.
The ’Eaters then loaded the bases in the next frame. However, with a strikeout and a double play, the Titans went into the bottom of the inning without any damage.
Fullerton retired the final three ’Eaters, and Irvine looked to take the Saturday and Sunday showdown.
CSUF 3, UCI 2
On Saturday, in front of 2,399 fans in Fullerton as the Titans led 2-0, Irvine extended the game in a ninth-inning rally after being held scoreless through eight before Fullerton’s Carlos Lopez hit a walk-off home run to clinch the series.
Fullerton starter Justin Garza pitched 7.2 shutout innings while allowing five hits before handing off the ball to Tyler Peitzmeier in the top of the eighth who induced an inning-ending groundball to hold the ’Eaters scoreless. Junior Michael Lorenzen entered in the ninth to get the win, and improves to 3-0 on the season.
Irvine starter Matt Whitehouse pitched 7.2 innings while giving up 10 hits, two runs and striking out five. Closer Race Parmenter falls to 2-4 on the season with the loss.
Lorenzen led the Titans with two RBI going two-for-four on the night. Lopez and Velazquez also recorded two hits.
Irvine’s Grant Palmer and Kris Paulino had a RBI on the night, while Jerry McClanahan led the ’Eaters with two hits.
Both teams went scoreless through two before Fullerton got on the board in the third on a two-out double up the third baseline from junior Lorenzen to score two.
Despite both teams loading the bases, neither would score again until the final frame.
Just one strike away from a 2-0 Fullerton victory, UCI’s designated hitter McClanahan hit a two-out double to right center field to keep the Anteaters alive. Senior Jeff Stephens then smacked a grounder to left to put men on the corners for sophomore Paulino. Paulino drove in the first Irvine run of the night on a hit to left field to put men on first and third, with Palmer at the plate while Fullerton still lead at 2-1. Then, on a wild pitch that got by the catcher, Palmer reached first on strike three as the ’Eaters tied the ball game at 2-2.
Snapping Irvine’s momentum, Lorenzen then ended the inning after giving up two runs by inducing a ground-out at first to Irvine’s lead-off hitter, sophomore Chris Rabago.
Heading into the bottom of the ninth with Parmenter on the mound, the ’Eaters secured the first two outs on a fly-out and a pop-out as Lopez stepped into the batters box.
“I said try and hit a homerun,” Fullerton coach Rick Vanderhook said. “If we’re going to hit fly balls, then hit a homerun.”
Lopez delivered, and ended the game with a walk-off jack to right center field, his first career walk-off homerun.
“Right when I hit it, I knew it was gone,” Lopez said.
“Mike’s teams always play good,” Vanderhook said. “We’ve seen them play enough, they’re solid. They don’t make many mistakes. I thought Whitehouse was cutting in on us. They’re pretty good hitters.”
CSUF 7, UCI 5
On Sunday afternoon in the final game of the series, Fullerton defeated Irvine 7-5 in a game that would, for the second day in a row, be decided in the bottom of the ninth inning.
Lopez, who hit his first career walk-off homer the previous night, turned around and did it again on Sunday for a three-run round-tripper to almost the exact spot that he hit it out at on Saturday.
Irvine was unable to hang onto a 5-2 lead going into the bottom of the eighth, and would be unable to take a game in the series as Fullerton swept the ’Eaters to claim the conference title for the fourth year in a row.
Starting RHP Andrew Morales held the Titans to two runs with two hits in seven innings. Merten then took over for the 10-0 starter in the eighth and gave up a two-run triple that cut the UCI lead to a slim 5-4 advantage. Merten falls to 4-2 on the season with the loss. Evan Brock entered in the ninth to face Lopez, but would give up the three-run home run to end the game.
Taylor paced the offense for the ’Eaters with two runs scored, going three-for-five as Stephens totaled two RBI with two hits. McClanahan, Spencer and Sparks all added an RBI.
The ’Eaters will finish the season with four home games, facing USC on Tuesday before hosting rival Long Beach State on Friday for the first in a three-game series.