FULLERTON- With Head Coach Rick Vanderhook suspended for the final two games of the series following his ejection Friday night, No. 7 Cal State Fullerton baseball and pitcher John Gavin completed the series sweep over New Mexico for its sixth consecutive victory.
“We hadn’t done that all year. That’s something we like to do. When you sweep series, it puts some distance between you and some other teams when it comes down to the end of the year,” said assistant coach Chad Baum, who filled in for Vanderhook.
Titans 2, Lobos 1
Game one was a typical Friday night for the Titans in that it was a low-scoring pitcher’s duel that ended in a 2-1 Fullerton win.
Connor Seabold continued a trend of solid Titan pitching, giving up four hits and one earned run while striking out eight batters.
“I didn’t think my stuff was there first inning, inning and a half, but after that I felt fine,” Seabold said. “I settled in a little bit and got command of my pitches. After that, it was the same as it’s always been.”
Tied 1-1 in the sixth inning, the Titans would be forced to overcome the loss of their skipper as Vanderhook, who had taken issue with several strike calls from the umpire, was ejected.
“It usually fires everyone up, because he was right. The guy didn’t have a low zone all night,” Bryant said. “Hooky’s got our back and when he gets tossed, we want to get that win for us, but we want to get that win for him too and I know he was up there watching.”
Veteran catcher Chris Hudgins made the play that would be the winning run for the Titans and for Vanderhook watching from his office. Hudgins delivered a sacrifice fly to deep right field to drive in Bryant from third base to give the Titans a 2-1 lead they did not relinquish.
Titans 5, Lobos 4
After trailing 4-1 in the top of the fourth, Cal State Fullerton baseball put together four unanswered runs to take Saturday night’s game 5-4. Valenzuela hit the go-ahead RBI single.
“I was feeling a little pressure, but once I got up to the box, I took a deep breath and got some relief right there,” Valenzuela said.
Starting pitcher Gavin Velasquez lasted three innings, giving up six hits and four earned runs.
With Scott Hurst on first in the eighth, Taylor Bryant ripped a line drive to left field to tie the game 4-4. With Bryant having advanced to third, Valenzuela stepped in the box and grounded a liner passed the third baseman to drive in Bryant and come up big for the Titans again.
“Sahid (Valenzuela) is really good,” Baum said. “That’s why we recruited him. We knew what we were getting coming in that he would be a guy that can play right and contribute off the bat.”
Titans 1, Lobos 0
Gavin pitched all but a perfect game for the Titans Sunday afternoon. Gavin went eight innings, giving up two hits and no runs while striking out a career-high 14 batters and not walking a single one as the Titans nabbed a 1-0 victory.
Gavin strikes out his 13th batter of the game and the crowd is loving it! pic.twitter.com/LZgZbQcWQt
— Daily Titan Sports (@dtsportsdesk) March 19, 2017
“(Gavin’s) best of his career,” Baum said. “(New Mexico) is a very good hitting team, a well coached team. It was an awesome performance.”
Gavin was surprised to hear his 14 strikeouts were the most by a CSUF pitcher since former Titan Thomas Eshelman recorded 20 against Arizona State in May 2015.
“Really? I mean I don’t really get strikeouts so that’s kind of cool. What was more important was the no walks,” Gavin said.
The one-run difference came in the bottom of the third inning when senior shortstop Timmy Richards hit a RBI single up the middle to score Dillon Persinger from second.
Next, the Titans will head out on an eight-game road swing which begins Tuesday against San Diego.