The Cal State Fullerton men’s baseball team knows that they can play with anyone in the country, but furthermore, they love to play UCLA. For the sixth consecutive game, the Titans defeated the Bruins. However, this time they did it in dominating fashion with a 13-2 victory over No. 3 UCLA on Wednesday night at Jackie Robinson Stadium.
The Titans swept the mid-week series and improved to 5-4 on the season. Fullerton was in complete control in the two-game series as they led in every inning of the series and outscored the Bruins 20-3.
Once again though it was CSUF’s pitching that led the way and was the key in the series against the No. 3 team in the country. This time it was freshman pitcher Daniel Renken, who simply put, was lights out. In his first four innings, he was near perfect. In the first inning he struck out the side on just seven pitches and would do it again in the fourth before his bid for perfection was lost in the fifth as he gave up back-to-back extra base hits to UCLA.
The fifth inning would be his only blemish as he yielded one run in the frame, but Renken would get right back to work as he finished his last two innings strong. He tallied six strikeouts through his first four innings on a total of 35 pitches. Renken only allowed four runners to reach base throughout his entire outing.
The key to his dominance was that he located his fastball and changed speeds well to keep the Bruins hitters off-balance. In seven innings he struck out 10 while allowing one run on three hits and a walk. He improved to 2-0 on the season and has 0.69 ERA.
“I felt good the entire game and I pounded the strike zone against UCLA. I was just trying to be a bulldog out there because our philosophy is to pound the zone and get strike one over,” Renken said. “Our bullpen didn’t come around the last two games, but that’s what the starters are here for and we will continue to have confidence in them.”
The Titans jumped out to another 5-0 lead, but this time they would do it in the second inning. Jared Clark’s solo home run started off the second for CSUF. With two outs, the Titans scored four more runs as Billy Marcoe and Jeff Newman would each knock in a run. Christian Colon then ripped a double down the left field line to complete the five-run inning.
The Titans forced Bruin starter Charles Brewer to throw 29 pitches in the inning. The fifth inning is when CSUF would break the game wide open with a five-run explosion. Khris Davis’ three-run blast into deep right center field — the first of his career — gave the Titans a commanding 9-0 lead.
“It felt great to hit it out, but I’ve been struggling so all I was trying to do was put a good swing on it,” Davis said. “He threw me a fastball and left it up so I took swing at it and I felt that my homerun was a bit of a backbreaker to them. It was real important in the series that our offense kept the pressure on them and we did.”
The Titans scored two more in the inning, with one of the runs coming off of a balk. Newman’s sacrifice fly would cap off the inning and give the Titans an 11-0 lead going into the bottom of fifth. UCLA would score a run in the bottom half to get on the scoreboard, but once again the Titans responded with two more runs in the sixth that put Fullerton up 13-1.
Reliever Kevin Rath struggled as he replaced Renken in the eighth, but Ryan Ackland came in and got Rath out of a bases-loaded jam. Brian Wilson finished the game with a scoreless ninth.
“To be honest, I don’t let the team get caught up in who we’re playing, we’re more concerned about ourselves and getting better as a team, and I was very proud the last two games with what Kapplan and Renken did,” Titan Head Coach Dave Serrano said. “I can’t say enough about what both of them did in this series. They established and set the tone for this team with their aggressiveness in pounding the zone. I felt that the team fed off of them this series”