FULLERTON, CA: On Saturday night at Goodwin Field in Fullerton, California, the No. 4 Cal State Fullerton Titans (44-8, 19-4) defeated the No. 24 ranked UC Irvine Anteaters (31-19, 13-10) in a 3-2 finish. After the Titans maintained a 2-0 lead through the eighth, Irvine managed to plate two runs in the ninth, before senior Carlos Lopez hit a walk-off home run to clinch the series after Friday night’s 5-2 victory.
Fullerton starter Justin Garza pitched 7.2 shutout innings while allowing five hits before handing off the ball to Tyler Peitzmeier in the top of the eighth who induced an inning-ending groundball to hold the ’Eaters scoreless. Junior Michael Lorenzen entered in the ninth to get the win and improves to 3-0 on the season.
Irvine starter Matt Whitehouse pitched 7.2 innings while giving up 10 hits, two runs and striking out five. Closer Race Parmenter falls to 2-4 on the season with the loss.
Lorenzen led the Titans with two RBI going two-for-four on the night. Lopez and Velazquez also recorded two hits.
Irvine’s Grant Palmer and Kris Paulino had a RBI on the night while Jerry McClanahan led the ’Eaters with two hits.
Both teams went scoreless through two before Fullerton got on the board in the third on a two-out double up the third-baseline from junior Lorenzen to score two.
Despite both teams loading the bases, neither would score again until the final frame.
Just one strike away from a 2-0 Fullerton victory, UCI’s designated hitter McClanahan hit a two-out double to right center field to keep the Anteaters alive. Senior Jeff Stephens then smacked a grounder to left to put men on the corners for sophomore Paulino. Paulino drove in the first Irvine run of the night on a hit to left field to put men on first and third with Palmer at the plate while Fullerton still lead at 2-1. Then, on a wild pitch that got by the catcher, Palmer reached first on strike three as the ’Eaters tied the ballgame at 2-2.
Snapping Irvine’s momentum, Lorenzen then ended the inning after giving up two runs by inducing a ground-out at first to Irvine’s lead-off hitter, sophomore Chris Rabago.
Heading into the bottom of the ninth with Parmenter on the mound, the ’Eaters secured the first two outs on a fly-out and a pop-out as Lopez stepped into the batters box.
“I said try and hit a homerun,” said Fullerton coach Rick Vanderhook. “If we’re going to hit fly balls, then hit a homerun.”
Lopez delivered, and ended the game with a walk-off jack to right center field, his first career walk-off homerun.
“Right when I hit it, I knew it was gone,” said Lopez.
“He’s strong, he’s smart,” said Vanderhook on Lopez. “He let it go and ran into one. Occasionally I’ll tell a guy to hit one just to get him loose, and to quit being careful.”