By Jacob Weinberger
With the game tied at two in the bottom of the 10th inning, SS Timmy Richards took the first pitch he saw from LHP Rob Galligan and smacked it over the left field fence to give the #23 ranked Cal State Fullerton Titans (11-6) a walk-off win over the Maryland Terrapins (7-10).
The Titans have now won five straight, while the Terps have lost six of their last eight games.
Maryland struggled on offense from the get-go. Titans starting pitcher Blake Quinn struck out five of the first seven batters he faced, and allowed just one hit in five innings pitched. However, all of Quinn’s strikeouts coupled with his four walks may have been a blessing in disguise for the Terps. Quinn threw 93 pitches in just five innings, causing an early exit. The right-hander finished with a no decision in five innings pitched with one hit, four walks, eight strikeouts, and no runs.
Mike Sharawyn matched Quinn pitch for pitch early on. The Terps ace was on his game tonight, but couldn’t get any run support. He finished with a no decision in six innings pitched with five hits, four walks, four strikeouts, two runs, and only one earned run. He threw 111 pitches.
In the third inning, Maryland had an opportunity to be first on the board. Third baseman Andrew Bechtold led off with a single, and catcher Justin Morris followed with a walk. A sacrifice bunt by shortstop Kevin Smith had the Terps in business with two runners in scoring position with the heart of the lineup due up. However, in what seemingly was a cross-up of signals, right fielder Madison Nickens bunted the ball back to the pitcher, who threw out Nickens at first base without any runners advancing. Second baseman Nick Dunn, the next batter, struck out swinging to end the threat.
The Terps offense would not threaten again for four innings.
The Titans capitalized on the Terps’ miscue in the bottom half of the third inning. They scored the opening run of the game without recording a hit.
With one out, left fielder Josh Vargas drew a walk, stole second base, and advanced to third base on a throwing error by Morris. Two batters later, first baseman Tanner Pinkston brought him home on a sacrifice fly. The run was unearned.
Shawaryn worked himself into a jam in the fifth inning, as second baseman Tristan Hildebrandt and Vargas began with back-to-back singles. The Titans were on the cusp of breaking the game open before Sharawyn got Richards to ground into a well turned 4-6-3 double play. Hildebrandt scored on the play, doubling the Titans’ lead, but the Terps were out of the pickle.
Although the Terps were hanging around in the middle innings, the percentages of a comeback were not at all favorable. Entering tonight’s game, the Titans were undefeated when leading after sixth innings, and the Terps were 0-8 when trailing after six innings.
Much of the credit goes to the Titans bullpen, which is one of the best in the country. Relievers Scott Serigstad, Chad Hockin, and Dylan Prohoroff each entered tonight’s game sporting a 0.00 ERA and averaging over a strikeout per inning in at least 12 innings pitched. They all pitched tonight.
A second threat emerged for the Terps in the top of the seventh inning against both Serigstad and Prohoroff. The Terps loaded the bases following a walk and the team’s second and third hits of the game. However, Nickens struck out swinging with two outs to defuse the opening.
Despite the failed efforts, the Terps had one more rally attempt left in them. Dunn and DH Nick Cieri led off the eighth inning with back-to-back singles, setting up runners on first and third base with nobody out. With two strikes, left fielder Marty Costes chopped a ball past the shortstop and into left field, scoring Dunn from third. The Terps were finally on the board and were still threatening. Three batters later, Bechtold hit a weak grounder back to the pitcher, who, even with the bases loaded and one out, only had a play at first base. Costes scored on the play and the Terps had tied the game late. The next batter, Morris, grounded out to second base with two men in scoring position to end the inning. The Terps were unable to take the lead.
Maryland reliever Rob Galligan did Yeoman’s work out of the bullpen in the late going. The southpaw kept the Titans in check for the seventh, eight and ninth innings.
The Terps managed one baserunner in both the ninth and tenth innings, but were unable to muster anything more.
In the bottom of the tenth inning and Galligan’s fourth inning of work, Richards crushed a solo home run into left field on the first pitch to walk off the Terps.
The Terps fell to 7-10 on the season, and the #23 ranked Titans improved to 11-6. The Terps will look to bounce back tomorrow night as they take on the Titans at 9 p.m. ET at Goodwin Field in Fullerton, California for game two of the series.