Gauna’s relief lifts Cal St. Fullerton
Lopez, Davis each record three hits, three RBI in win
Gainesville, Fla. -- Freshman Koby Gauna allowed just one run in five strong innings in relief and junior Carlos Lopez and freshman J. D. Davis each had three hits and three RBI to lift No. 19 Cal State Fullerton to a come-from-behind 8-5 victory against No. 1 Florida Sunday afternoon to salvage the season-opening series on the road.
The Titans (1-2) used a 15-hit attack against eight Gator pitchers to earn the first Division I victory for their first-year head coach Rick Vanderhook.
"I'm proud of how they came back today," said Vanderhook after the game. "We put the ball in play pretty well, we played solid defense, had a number of extra base hits – and for me, Koby was one of the stars this weekend. He did nothing but go out there and throw strikes."
The Gators (2-1) had 11 hits on the afternoon, six of them coming off Gauna (1-0), who earned his first career victory. Michael Lorenzen, who had three hits and an RBI through the first eight innings as the centerfielder, logged his first career save with a scoreless ninth inning.
Jonathon Crawford (0-1) took the loss, giving up four runs on five hits in the fifth after starter Brian Johnson reached his pitch count and was taken out of the game leading 3-0.
"We ran in to adversity again," said Coach Vanderhook when asked about how the team responded on Sunday following the previous two losses caused by big Gator innings. "You allow a team to score three times with just one hit – it kind of puts a damper on things. The bottom line this weekend: I think we learned to deal with a bit of adversity."
The Gators took advantage of a shaky start by freshman Kenny Mathews, who hit three batters, walked one and surrendered a two-run single to leftfielder Daniel Pigott in the second inning. The first run came after a pair of hit batters and a walk loaded the bases. Mathews plunked leadoff man Nolan Fontana in the helmet, forcing in a run to give the Gators a 1-0 lead. Piggot followed with a lined shot to left-center that drove home two to make it 3-0.
Mathews lasted one batter into the third before being replaced by Gauna.
The Titans trailed until Johnson was lifted in the fifth. Six of the first seven Titans reached base with four coming around to score before Crawford was replaced. With runners at first and second, Lorenzen's second hit of the day was an infield single driving home Greg Velazquez who walked to leadoff the inning. A batter later, Ivory Thomas got into a Crawford offering, pelting the left field wall for and RBI double, driving in Richy Pedroza (bunt single) to cut the Gator lead to 3-2.
Carlos Lopez put the Titans in the lead for good when he chopped a ball the opposite way over third baseman Josh Tobias into left field. That brought around Lorenzen and Thomas and put the Titans up for good at 4-3.
Fullerton backed up their fifth inning with another four-spot in the sixth, with all four of them coming with two out. Lopez drove in another run with a single to center off reliever Steven Rodriguez, setting the table even more for Davis' first career home run, a mammoth three-run shot out of Mekethan Stadium to give the Titans a commanding 8-3 lead.
"J.D. had a rough first two days at the plate, but he came through today with three big hits," said Vanderhook.
Following the Titans' team celebration of Davis' home run, Rodriguez buzzed the tower of Austin Kingsolver and was promptly ejected by home plate umpire Rob Healey.
Florida cut into the five-run Fullerton lead with a solo home run from Preston Tucker off Gauna in the seventh and an RBI-single by Fontana in the eighth off Christian Coronado, but couldn't get a run across from Lorenzen who was pitching his first career inning.