CLEARWATER, Fla. — In the first two games at the Opening Weekend Challenge, No. 18 Cal State Fullerton collected seven hits combined. On Sunday afternoon against No. 10 Louisville, the Titans had four hits in the first inning and seven through four as they went on to defeat the Cardinals 8-6 at Bright House Field.
The Titans (1-2) collected their first victory of the season thanks to timely hitting as they went 4-for-9 with runners in scoring position while the Cardinals (2-1) were held to 2-for-9 in those same situations.
Freshman John Gavin earned the win for the Titans, tossing 5.2 innings in his first career start. He allowed four earned runs on nine hits but did not issue a free pass and struck out nine. Senior Tyler Peitzmeier made his second relief appearance of the season and earned his first save and second of his career, going 1.1 innings of scoreless relief. He allowed one hit and struck out two. In 3.1 innings of work, Peitzmeier has allowed just one base runner and fanned eight batters.
At the plate, the Titans got a lot of production from the 2-5 spots in the lineup as Scott Hurst, Jake Jefferies, Josh Estill andChris Hudgins combined to go 5-for-15 with six runs scored, a double and four RBI.
Dustin Vaught went 2-for-2 with a RBI and a run scored while shortstop Timmy Richards went 1-for-3 with two RBI.
The Titans pounced on Louisville starter Josh Rogers in the first inning. After Hurst reached on a fielder’s choice, Jefferies singled and then Estill, getting his first start of the season, blasted a double to left to plate Hurst and put the Titans up 1-0.
With runners on second and third, Chris Hudgins stepped in and roped a two-run single to left field to make it 3-0. After Hudgins advanced to second on a wild pitch, Vaught cashed in the run with a single to left to cap off the Titans’ four-run first.
Rogers would go on to take the loss, going four innings and allowing six earned runs on eight hits. He walked one and struck out four.
The Cardinals got a run back in the second but were robbed of another thanks to a spectacular play by Jefferies, who ranged to his right and made a diving stop on a groundball from Ryan Summers. Jefferies then made a perfect throw to erase Summers at first just ahead of the left fielder’s head-first slide.
After adding a run in the fifth, the Titans got all the insurance they needed as they scored three runs on just one hit thanks to a hit batter and four walks, two of them with the bases loaded.
The Titans needed every bit of that cushion as the Cardinals scored three of their own in the sixth and two more in the seventh to cut the Fullerton lead to two runs.
But Maxwell Gibbs and Peitzmeier each pitched scoreless relief to help preserve the victory.
The Titans will now host their 2015 home opener on Tuesday night as they welcome USC to Goodwin Field for the first of 12 consecutive games at home. The Titans will not go on the road again until March 13 when they travel to Bloomington to take on Indiana.