Catcher Daniel Cope crushed two-run home run in the bottom of the seventh inning gave Cal State Fullerton baseball a 6-3 victory over Hawaii in the first game of its three-game home series.
“Hook (Titans Head Coach Rick Vanderhook) made the point clear of how big this series was, and he wanted to come out hot,” second baseman Hank LoForte said. “We had success, we knew what we were doing, we stuck to the approach and it worked out.”
CSUF trailed 3-2 in the fifth inning after pitcher Colton Eastman gave up a two-run home run to Adam Fogel. After that hit, the Titans offense scored four unanswered runs and the pitching staff allowed four hits.
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Cope said the Titans weren’t satisfied with their lead but were comfortable after his home run, which allowed them to maintain a strong offense.
“I think our offense is starting to click as a whole,” Cope said. “In the beginning of the year we struggled. We had a few guys hot and everyone else was cold, but I think everyone is starting to do their job and not trying to do too much.”
LoForte had three hits and one run for the night, his fourth multi-hit game in the last five contests. He credits his face mask to his recent offensive uptick.
“It’s the mask. Ever since I started wearing the mask, I’ve had to adjust my stance a little bit because one of my eyes has a bulge,” LoForte said. “Ever since I turned my shoulders to the pitcher, I’m starting to see the ball better.”
Eastman, Blake Workman and Brett Conine struck out 11 batters while giving up 11 hits. The CSUF offense registered nine hits, five of them coming from LoForte and right fielder Ruben Cardenas.
Although they now hold the top spot in the Big West, LoForte knows that the Titans can’t stop working hard if they want to keep playing well.
“Can’t be complacent,” LoForte said. “We’ll play up and once we’re down, we’re down, but I think we need to keep the momentum going. Everyone’s on track, feeding off the dugout and feeding off positive energy from everybody. That’s what it really takes.”
Fullerton will play Hawaii on Saturday at 6:00 p.m. with a chance to win the series.