The Titans escaped with a 2-1 victory and a three-game sweep of the Long Beach State Dirtbags on the road Sunday for their second 10-game winning streak of the season.
The Titans’ 21-3 start is the program’s best since the 1996 team started 31-2, and the last time the team had two 10-game winning streaks in one season was in 2001.
The game ended in an often used, rarely successful appeal play. The No. 8 Titans held a 2-1 lead in the bottom of the ninth, but the Dirtbags were threatening with the tying run on third base and the winning run on second. With two strikes, Long Beach catcher Eric Hutting hit what appeared be a game-tying sacrifice fly, and Michael Hill of Long Beach slid ahead of the tag by catcher Jared Deacon.
Before throwing the next pitch, closer Michael Lorenzen stepped off and threw the ball to third base, appealing that the baserunner, Michael Hill, began running home before the catch was made in center field. Third base umpire Ramon Armendariz called the runner out as he was deemed to have tagged up from third too early.
The Titans struck first in the top of the fourth inning when center fielder Michael Lorenzen was hit by a pitch to reach base.
He then advanced to second base on a fly out to deep right by left fielder Anthony Hutting, brother of Eric. After designated hitter Clay Williamson was walked, Deacon hit a single to right center to drive in Lorenzen for the 1-0 lead. Deacon collected three hits in the game to raise his batting average to .409.
“From an offensive standpoint, just hit the ball on the ground and beat infielders,” said Deacon.
CSUF put one more run on the board in the top of the fifth inning when second baseman Keegan Dale opened up the frame with a walk. Shortstop Richy Pedroza then hit a laser shot over the right fielder that dropped for a double to drive in Dale from first for the 2-0 lead.
Titan right hander Grahamm Wiest (4-1) started the game strong as he shutout the Dirtbags for four innings before allowing a run in the fifth, finishing with a career-high nine strikeouts and no walks in eight innings.
The Dirtbags got on the board in the bottom of the fifth inning when Ino Patron hit a ball past the diving Dale with a runner on second to cut the lead to 2-1. Patron continued his hot streak against the Titans after driving in four runs on Saturday; he was a home run shy of hitting for the cycle.
“He just threw a lot of strikes, which is what we want him to do, and he did it and was great,” said Titan Head Coach Rick Vanderhook. “(The pitchers) just push each other out there and have a great friendly rivalry trying to match each other.”
Dirtbags starting pitcher David Hill (0-2) held the Titans to two runs on five hits over 5.2 innings. Coming in relief of Hill was righty Josh Frye who subsequently got Lorenzen to ground out to shortstop for the third out of the sixth.
The Titans threatened again in the top of the eighth inning with Hutting on third and one out. Lefty Landon Hunt faced Deacon, who botched a squeeze bunt that left Hutting out to dry halfway down the third baseline and was tagged out for the second out. Kingsolver went on to strikeout looking to end the inning.
“The decision doesn’t matter to me, the only thing that matters is the outcome,” Wiest said of earning the win in the end.
The Titans look to extend their winning streak to 11 games as they play host to Loyola Marymount this Tuesday. First pitch is scheduled for 6 p.m.
By Sergio Gomez