The Cal State Fullerton baseball team (25-22, 8-10 Big West) concluded its three-game homestand against UC Riverside Sunday, where the team dropped both the game and the series with an 8-7 loss in 11 innings.
“A lot of little things add up. We didn’t do some little things. We did some big things, but for the most part we just didn’t do all the little things, and they added up,” said junior pitcher Grahamm Wiest.
Wiest made the start for CSUF, and he pitched six innings. He allowed five runs, only one of which was earned.
This was due to an error by senior infielder Keegan Dale. The Highlanders capitalized with a grand slam by junior Drake Zarate. The blast gave them a 5-0 lead before the Titans could even step up to the plate.
The Titans fought back in the bottom of the first inning, though. Junior third baseman Matt Chapman hit a double that drove in two runs.
Chapman led the Titans on offense with a three-for-four effort that included two runs batted in.
Wiest recovered from his rough first inning to throw five consecutive shutout innings, and he finished the game with four strikeouts. He only allowed three hits after the first inning.
The Titans continued their comeback bid in the bottom of the sixth inning by scoring two runs. Sophomore Jake Jefferies made his first start since April 12 against UC Santa Barbara.
He filled the designated hitter slot, and he took advantage of his second chance by hitting a two-run single to trim the Highlanders’ lead to 5-4.
However, the Titans left two men on base that inning after being unable to cause any further damage.
The Highlanders extended their lead to 6-4 in the top of the seventh inning with a single by junior Thomas Walker.
The Titans came close to scoring more runs in the bottom of the seventh inning. They loaded the bases with one out, but the Highlanders escaped the jam to preserve their lead.
CSUF returned the favor in the top of the eighth inning though. Junior Tyler Peitzmeier stepped in for freshman Phil Bickford, and he allowed a single and a walk.
Junior Willie Kuhl then took over and allowed the hit that loaded the bases, but he notched a crucial strikeout and then forced a fielder’s choice ground out to escape the jam.
The Titans took advantage of another opportunity to close in on the Highlanders in the bottom of the eighth inning with a single by junior outfielder Austin Diemer. They left two men on base to continue their offensive struggles.
Junior Koby Gauna allowed what appeared to be an insurance run to the Highlanders in the top of the ninth, but the Titans were not ready to fall just yet.
Senior Greg Velazquez hit an RBI double before back-to-back sacrifice bunts allowed the tying run to score.
The Highlanders threatened to score again with two runners on base in the top of the 10th inning, but Diemer gunned down senior Cody Hough at home to end the inning.
The Titans looked primed to win the game in the bottom of the 10th, but they left the bases loaded.
The Highlanders took advantage of Fullerton’s failure to score with the go-ahead run in the top of the 11th inning. The Titans went down in order to end the game, and junior J.D. Davis took the loss with one run allowed in two innings.
They finished with 13 runners left on base. The bullpen allowed three runs, but this was only one of many factors that led to the Titans’ loss.
“You can never put it on one thing. It’s baseball. There’s a few mistakes we made and some timely hits that could have went our way and some breaks we could have caught,” Chapman said. “That’s just baseball. You can’t put it on one thing. We win as a team and lose as a team. It’s a tough loss.”
Head Coach Rick Vanderhook will rejoin the Titans when they face UC Irvine next weekend.
“It will be great to have coach Hook back in the dugout. We really miss him in there,” Kirby said.