Justin Garza throws no-hitter, fourth in Cal State Fullerton's DI history
FULLERTON, Calif. -- The night began with a tribute to the past as Cal State Fullerton honored members of the 1984 and 2004 national championship teams prior to Friday night's game, but it was the future that stole the show by the end of the night, making a little history along the way.
Sophomore Justin Garza tossed the fourth no-hitter in Titans history as the Titans defeated Cal State Northridge 3-0 in a Big West Conference victory at Goodwin Field.
Garza's masterful performance added his name alongside Kirk Saarloos, Ted Silva and Longo Garcia as the only other Titans to toss a no-hitter in the program's 40-year history in NCAA Division I baseball. Saarloos was the last Titans pitcher to accomplish the feat, no-hitting Pacific on April 9, 2001 in a 28-0 win.
"With all the alumni and all the great players that have come through here and to have my name on that board is just a big honor," Garza said. "I still can't believe it; right now it just feels like I'm floating and everything is not really real."
Garza's no-hitter also notched him the first complete-game of his career. An Ontario, California, native, Garza walked three and struck out 12, matching his career high. He struck out a batter in every inning except the sixth, where he induced a double play after the lead-off man got on base thanks to an error.
The Titans (30-22, 13-10) won their sixth consecutive game while the Matadors (18-37, 6-16) dropped their fifth in a row and have lost nine of their past 10 conference games.
The Matadors hitters were off balance all night but threatened to bring Garza's magical night to an end in the seventh inning. Outfielder Chester Pak smacked an 0-2 cutter to the right side of the infield that looked destined to get through the hole. But Titans first baseman Greg Velazquez made a sliding stab at the ball to his right and then found Garza charging to cover first and the no-hitter was preserved.
"You always see in the bigs, people make magnificent plays to back up their teammate in a situation like that and I kind of knew that might be the time because on that pitch I really hung a cutter that should have been smacked and Greg was there to field it and I was there to cover," Garza said. "From that point on, I was like, 'Alright, you got lucky now let's get back to work.'"
It was not the last defensive marvel in the inning as Matadors leftfielder Nick Blaser stepped up and laced the first pitch from Garza toward third, where Matt Chapman fielded the liner perfectly on a short-hop and then threw a laser to first to get the second out. Garza completed the frame with his eighth strike out of the night.
In the ninth, Garza got Brett Balkan to ground out to short and then got back-to-back strikeouts to complete the gem.
J.D. Davis took care of the offense for the Titans as he continued to swing a hot bat. He belted his fourth home run of the season way over the right-center field fence and halfway up the netting to give Fullerton a 1-0 lead in the fourth inning. It was his first home run since March 2 at Oregon and also extended his hitting streak to 11 games.
But Davis was not finished as he stepped up to the dish with a man on in the fifth. He fell behind in the count 0-2 but would work it back to a full count against Matadors starter Jerry Keel. Davis then unloaded a mammoth blast that cleared the Goodwin Field scoreboard by at least 10 feet and landed somewhere in the parking lot, putting the Titans up 3-0.
Davis finished the night 2-for-3 with a walk and three RBI. He is now 22-for-43 (.512) in his past 10 games with seven doubles, two triples, two home runs and an astronomical .907 slugging percentage and 1.450 OPS. He's also scored nine runs, walked three times and has stolen two bases in that stretch.