Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Titans' Offensive Woes Continue



LMU (20-14) defeated No. 6 Cal State Fullerton (20-8) by a count of 8-3 on Tuesday at Fullerton's Goodwin Field. The Lions, who are now 6-1 in games played against ranked opponents this season, scored five runs in the first inning and received a career-best pitching performance from freshman Ramiro Carreon in the victory. LMU, which saw a hit from every spot in the order except the number-nine spot on Tuesday, has now won 12 of its last 14 games.

Carreon was outstanding in his sixth start of the year, tossing seven and a third innings, allowing just two runs (one earned) on eight hits, a walk and a pair of sacrifice flies while striking out three batters to earn his third victory of the season. The seven and a third innings of work were the longest of Carreon's career, besting his five and two-thirds effort against then-No. 24 Fresno State in game two of a doubleheader on March 21. Sophomore Chris Eusebio, LMU's leading reliever, was the only relief used on Tuesday, tossing an inning and two-thirds and allowing one run on two hits and striking out one batter.

Junior Ryan Wheeler and freshman Shon Roe paced the Lion offense, collecting three hits apiece in the victory. Wheeler went 3-for-5 with two doubles, two runs scored and a RBI. The native of Torrance, Calif. has now hit safely in 20 of his last 21 games, including his last four straight. Roe was 3-for-5 with a run scored, while Jonathan Johnson drove-in two runs with a 2-for-3 day and a triple. Junior Angelo Songco had the most productive day in terms of RBI, finishing 2-for-4 with a home run, a sacrifice fly, two runs scored and five RBI. The home run was Songco's third in as many games, marking the first time the native of Granada Hills, Calif. had accomplished the feat in his career. He is the first Lion to homer in three consecutive games since Wheeler hit a home run in each of the three games against Holy Cross this year. The home run, his 10th this season, was Songco's 29th of his career, tying him for eighth in the All-Time LMU Record Books with Kris Zacuto (1999-2002). In addition, Songco has now hit safely in 15 consecutive games, batting .370 (20-for-54) with 19 runs scored, four doubles, five home runs, 14 walks, two stolen bases and 18 RBI over the span. With one hit on Tuesday, freshman Ryan Hawthorne is 15-for-45 (.333) with seven runs scored, three doubles, two walks and four RBI over a nine-game hitting streak.

Jeff Newman was the lone Titan player to collect multiple hits, finishing 2-for-4 in the loss. Khris Davis and Jared Clark each collected a RBI with sacrifice flies, while Joey Siddons recorded a RBI-double in the ninth inning. Walker Moore collected his first career at bat and hit in the ninth inning, a single to start the frame.

Kyle Witten got the start for Fullerton, allowing five runs on five hits in one inning on the hill en route to being tagged with the loss. Kevin Rath surrendered two runs in two and a third innings of relief before Travis Kelly gave up one run in an inning and two-thirds. Nick Ramirez and Kyle Mertins combined to toss four scoreless innings for Fullerton to close the game, but the damage had been done for LMU.

The Lions came out swinging in the first inning, plating five runs on five hits and sending nine batters to the plate. Hawthorne led things off with a single on the first pitch of the game before Kyle Spraker was hit by a 3-1 pitch to put two runners on in front of Wheeler. Wheeler wasted no time putting the Lions on the board, belting his team-best 15th double of the year to left centerfield, driving in Hawthorne and putting runners at second and third. Songco extended his hitting streak, and put the Lions on top by a count of 3-0, after blooping a single into right centerfield to drive in both runners. After a strikeout and a foul-out for the first two outs in the inning, LMU got the ball rolling once again. Roe picked-up a two-out single to right field before Johnson cleared the bases with a two-RBI triple, his fifth of the season, to right centerfield to cap the frame. Evan Simonitsch, who started the game as the Lion centerfielder and ninth hitter in the lineup, left the game with a 0-2 count after fouling a pitch off the flap of his helmet. Will Dugoni took over the at bat, swinging and missing at the next offering for the strikeout.

Fullerton answered for a run in the bottom of the first, benefiting from back-to-back singles to start the frame from Christian Colon and Newman. Colon moved to third on Newman's single after Hawthorne mishandled the ball down the left field line and was charged with an error. After a flyout for out number one, Clark lifted a ball deep down the left field line and into foul territory for a sacrifice fly that plated Colon from third. The Lions did allow another runner after a hit-by-pitch on a 1-2 count, but Carreon induced a pop fly to shortstop to end the inning on the ensuing play, stranding runners at first and second.

LMU stranded the bases loaded in the top of the third after collecting two hits and a walk to load the bases with one out. Brad Bauer, the reigning WCC Player of the Week, singled before Roe picked-up his second hit of the day on the ensuing play. Dugoni followed with a strikeout for out number two before Hawthorne just got under a pitch and flew out to the left centerfield gap, leaving the bases loaded.

The Lions extended the lead to 7-1 on one swing of the bat from Songco in the fourth. A one-out single from Wheeler preceded a towering drive to right field from Songco for a two-run home run, his third in as many games. Ollie Enos followed with a single after the home run, but LMU would strand the runner after a groundout and a foul-out to end the inning.

The Titans inched back to within five runs with another run in the bottom of the fourth, but made two costly base running errors in the frame to prevent further damage. Clark singled and stole second base to get the ball rolling before Tyler Pill singled to centerfield and was thrown out trying to stretch the single to a double. Davis followed with the second sacrifice fly for Fullerton, driving in the second Titan run of the game. Dustin Garneau kept the inning alive with a two-out single before Joe Scott reached on a bunt single. Garneau moved to second on the play, but made the second base running blunder, trying to move to third as the ball was dropped by Wheeler. The first baseman quickly gathered the ball and fired a strike to third base, where Spraker applied the tag for the final out.

The Lions got the run back in the top of the sixth inning by way of sacrifice fly off the bat of Songco. Spraker doubled down the left field line to start the inning before a ground ball to the right side of the infield from Wheeler moved the runner to third with one out. Songco followed with a fly ball to right field that proved deep enough to bring home the run on the ensuing play, pushing the tally to 8-2 in favor of LMU.

Wheeler picked-up his second double of the night, and 16th of the season, in the top of the eighth with two out, but LMU would continue to lead 8-2 after stranding the runner in the inning. Carreon's outstanding night came to an end in the bottom of the eighth with one out. The right-hander gave up a single to Josh Fellhauer before Eusebio took over and retired the next two hitters in order to end the inning and close the book on Carreon.

Eusebio would go on to pitch a one-run ninth inning, allowing a RBI-double to Siddons, en route to sealing the 8-3 Lion victory. LMU will continue West Coast Conference play on Thursday, hosting San Francisco at 3:00 p.m. at Page Stadium.

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