Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Titans Win First Game of Road Trip


By Don Hudson

SAN DIEGO - For the fourth consecutive game, the Cal State Fullerton Titans received an excellent outing by a starting pitcher and won the first of nine consecutive road games, beating the San Diego State Aztecs tonight at Tony Gwynn Stadium by a score of 7-2. Freshman Noe Ramirez made his first collegiate start and pitched seven sharp innings, allowing just two runs on three hits and "noe" walks.

How often do midweek games go just 2:32 and reach the sixth inning with the score 2-1 and both starting pitchers still in the game? "Johnny Allstaff" was nowhere to be found tonight, as Ramirez and SDSU's Ryan O'Sullivan pitched very well for the first five innings. After Ramirez opened the game with consecutive 1-2-3 innings, the Aztecs struck first with two runs in the bottom of the third. Brandon Meredith led off and was plunked by a pitch and was advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt and then to third on a fly ball. The speedy Brandon Decker hit a slow spinning bouncer up the middle which hit the second base bag and was fielded by Christian Colon, who made a great throw and just missed ending the inning when Decker was safe on a bang-bang play at first base. (Translation: the kid was out by half a step but they called him safe.) Decker stole second and scored on an RBI single by Mitch Blackburn, giving the Aztecs a 2-0 lead.

The Titans cut the deficit in half in the fourth inning when Colon led off with a single, stole second and scored on a single by Jared Clark. O'Sullivan was on the ropes for further damage after Nick Ramirez singled (his second on the night), but CF Pat Colwell made a great diving catch of an opposite-field screaming line drive by Jeff Newman.

The Titans took the lead in the sixth inning with three runs and never looked back. Khris Davis drove in the tieing run with a base hit after a Josh Fellhauer walk and a Jared Clark single. After Clark and Davis executed a double steal, Jeff Newman gave the Titans a lead with a sacrifice fly. Dustin Garneau's two-out RBI single made the score 4-2 in favor of Fullerton.

Meanwhile, Noe Ramirez got stronger as the game went on. After surrendering the two runs in the third inning, he went on to retire twelve consecutive batters.

The Titans scored two insurance runs in the seventh inning on a two-out rally: Fellhauer singled, Clark was hit by a pitch and Nick Ramirez drove them both in with a long opposite-field double (his third hit on the night). The Titans tacked on the seventh and final run of the game in the ninth inning when Colon hit a dribbler towards the pitcher, who threw the ball to Tijuana and Colon ended up on third base, where he scored on a Josh Fellhauer double to left field.

Ryan Ackland finished the game on the mound with two strong innings, permitting just one meaningless ninth inning single.


So what did we learn tonight?

First, before the game even started we learned from from Aztecs skipper Tony Gwynn as he pointed us towards the Cold Stone ice cream kiosk. They offer the Tony Gwynn Special: a quart of ice cream (your choice of flavor) in a pint-sized cup.

We learned that, like fellow freshman hurler Tyler Pill, Noe Ramirez can be a vital contributor to this pitching staff. During the remainder of this road trip, the fourth starter is going to be a critical factor: the Titans have a big showdown next Tuesday night at Texas A&M and then play four games in three days at the tournament in Stillwater, Oklahoma. Those games could be an excellent developmental opportunity for this young pitcher with an outstanding arm.

The offense hit the ball sharply tonight. The first eight guys in the line-up got hits, with multiple hit nights from Nick Ramirez (3), Fellhauer (2), Clark (2) and Davis (2). Besides the thirteen hits, many of the outs were hit very hard: besides the shot Newman was robbed on, Gary Brown belted two well-hit balls deep to right field that died on the warning track in the cold, damp marine layer. Billy Marcoe also ripped one back through the box that was snagged by the pitcher in his first at-bat of the season.

It was also great to see Fellhauer and Nick Ramirez go with the pitches and hit opposite field doubles.

Finally, we learned that this Titans team can play solid (and oftimes superb) defense just about any night of the week. Jared Clark made a great diving stop of a ball headed into right field and led Ryan Ackland perfectly with a throw to the bag. Christian Colon is playing lights out at shortstop. The next eight games are going to be a remarkable challenge. If the resurgent pitching continues the way it has during this five game winning streak, good things can happen.....can't wait to get to Hattiesburg!


rubenenhale said...

Solid Performance Noe, Very Solid!

Anonymous said...

The Tony Gwynn picture pointing to Cold Stone Creamery line is classic; Thanks Don Section K for a meaningful and entertaining report.