Capped off by an unanswered four-run rally in the top of the ninth inning, Cal State Fullerton baseball burned the Arizona State Sun Devils Tuesday for a 10-4 victory in the opener of a mid-week two-game series.
In the early going of the game, the Titans’ offense was nowhere to be found as the Sun Devils held them to three scoreless innings. Left-handed pitcher John Gavin received the starting nod for the Titans but quickly gave up two runs in the first inning.
Overall, Gavin had an uncharacteristic performance as he recorded end-game totals of seven hits and four earned runs. In his other two appearances this season, Gavin had only surrendered a combined total of 10 hits and a mere one earned run to accentuate a 2-0 record.
In the fourth inning, Fullerton finally showed signs of life by squeezing in one run after catcher Chris Hudgins reached on a fielder’s choice to bring home Scott Hurst.
However, the Sun Devils extended their lead in the same frame by knocking in two runs off a Myles Denson single and an Andrew Shaps double. The Titans managed to put an end to the bleeding with a clutch play to get Denson out at home for the final out of the inning.
Despite Fullerton’s vigilance on defense, the Arizona State run in the fourth was the straw that broke the camel’s back for Head Coach Rick Vanderhook as he opted to switch Gavin out for righty Blake Workman.
Vanderhook’s decision proved to be well worth it as a combination of Workman and closer Dillon Brown silenced the Sun Devils’ bats for the remainder of the game.
On offense, the Titans exploded for nine runs in the last five innings. Leading 6-4 going into the eighth inning, the Titans were unable to muster another run in the frame but rebounded in the ninth for the aforementioned four-run rally that sealed the game. The late barrage included back-to-back triples from catchers Niko Pacheco and Hudgins.
The catcher duo had big contributions to CSUF’s win, each recording two RBIs on the evening. Freshman Sahid Valenzuela had his best game in a Titan uniform as he went 2-4 at the plate and also reached home for two runs. Workman was given the win for his solid effort on the mound where he notched four strikeouts with no earned runs in four innings of work.
The Titans, who now boast a 6-4 overall record, will return to Phoenix Municipal Stadium at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday for the final game in their two-game series against Arizona State.