Thomas Eshelman struck out 12 and tossed his third consecutive complete game for Cal State Fullerton, but for the second week in a row, he also took the loss. UC Riverside (21-23, 9-7) took the series opener behind a brilliant, 39-pitch, four-inning save by Dylan Stuart.
UC Riverside head coach Doug Smith talks about the Highlanders’ pitching effort to beat Eshelman, with starter Jacob Smigelski making big pitches and Stuart being lights out:
The Highlanders went up 3-0 in the third inning when Nick Vilter knocked a two-run homer. Here’s Vilter talking about his big hit after he’s scuffled in Big West play:
But Fullerton (24-21, 7-9) responded with what looked like a big inning in the bottom half. Clay Williamson tripled and scored on Tanner Pinkston’s RBI single. J.D. Davis followed with one of his four hits and the Titans had Riverside starter Jacob Smigelski on the ropes.
Matt Chapman took a massive hack, but just got under a pitch, lofting it deep to left-centerfield. Pinkston smartly tagged and slid into third base just before the tag, but upon appeal, he was called out for leaving second base before the catch was made, effectively killing Fullerton’s rally.
The Titans trimmed the lead to 3-2 in the fifth inning when Davis doubled and Chapman singled him home. David Olmedo-Barrera put a charge into a ball, sending it out to the right field wall, but David Andriese made a nice jumping grab, banging into the wall, to end the inning.
UC Riverside then turned the ball over to Stuart, who pitched around leadoff runners in the sixth and seventh innings to put together a shutdown four innings. He has now thrown 13 scoreless innings in his career at Goodwin Field after shutting out the Titans, 1-0, in 2012.
Stuart talks about why he has been so successful at Goodwin Field and about his transition back to the bullpen after spending the last two seasons in the weekend starting rotation:
Before the game, the Cal State Fullerton squad received some good news. The school’s administrative investigation into head coach Rick Vanderhook finally has been concluded and he will return to the team beginning Monday.
But after the game, Eshelman concluded, “The way this season is going, the game is testing us every way possible.” Here’s his full thoughts on his third consecutive complete game, the offense seeming to come to life and the news about Vanderhook’s return:
CBD photographer Shotgun Spratling was there for some of the late action at Goodwin Field: