Error Leads to Four-Run Eighth in 6-2 Loss at No. 20 Fullerton
LMU led No. 20 Cal State Fullerton 2-1 headed into the bottom of the seventh.
Feb. 29, 2012
FULLERTON, Calif. - LMU (2-6) led No. 20 Cal State Fullerton (5-3), 2-1, headed into the bottom of the seventh inning on Wednesday at Goodwin Field, but a pair of balks in the seventh allowed the game-tying run to score before the Titans hung a four-spot on the board in the eighth, in large part due to a costly throwing error charged to Aaron Griffin that led to three unearned runs.
Griffin finished the game having tossed 1.1 innings, allowing four runs (one earned) on one hit and two walks en route to being tagged with his second loss in as many appearances. After Matt Florer started the game and went 2.1 innings, LMU used five relievers, including Ryan Hawthorne for the final two-thirds of a frame. Christian Coronado earned the victory after throwing 3.1 innings of relief, allowing just one run on two hits and two walks to improve to 1-0. Koby Gauna got the start for the Titans, pitching the first five innings to claim a no decision.
Junior Scott Harkin led the Lion offense on Wednesday, going 2-for-3 with a run scored, two RBI and a home run. The round-tripper was Harkin's first at LMU, and the second of the year for the Lions overall. Harkin drove in the game's first run in the top of the second, chasing home Alex Guthrie with a single into left field. Guthrie had reached with a leadoff single to start the frame before moving to second on a wild pitch. The unsung hero of the inning proved to be Tanner Donnels when he fouled off a number of quality pitches before lifting a fly ball to right field to move Guthrie to third with just one out.
Cal State Fullerton evened the tally at one with a run in the third inning, benefitting from a Michael Lorenzen leadoff double. The speedy leadoff man, who finished 1-for-3 and recorded the final two outs on the hill, moved to third on a wild pitch and later came in to score when Colton Plaia errantly fired to third on a back-pick that got away from Guthrie.
Knotted at one headed into the seventh, Harkin quickly handed LMU its second lead of the night, belting a leadoff shot over the wall in left field on the first pitch of the inning. Unfortunately for LMU, the lead did not last long, as Fullerton took advantage of late-inning mistakes en route to a run in the seventh and four more in the eighth. Austin Kingsolver drew a leadoff walk before Ramiro Carreon committed the first of two balks in the inning to push him to second. After a single put runners at the corners with nobody out, Carreon balked again, allowing Kingsolver to score and pushing Matt Orloff, who went 3-for-4 with a run scored to lead Cal State Fullerton, to second. Griffin entered and did well to escape the jam and keep the score at 2-2, retiring the side without allowing the runner to advance.
The mistakes went from bad to worse in the eighth as Fullerton loaded the bases with one out on a single, a walk and a hit-by-pitch. Needing a double-play ball, Griffin induced a soft-liner off the handle from Orloff down the third base line. The right-hander seemingly had the play in the bag, forcing Richy Pedroza to freeze between third and home. Unfortunately, Griffin could not make the catch in the air, but had plenty of time to pick the ball up and force out the runner at the plate, but his throw sailed low and wide, leaving the bases loaded and handing Fullerton the 3-2 lead. The Titans followed with a bunt single from Keegan Dale to drive in a run before Lorenzen traded an out for a run with a groundout to shortstop. Anthony Hutting followed Dale's lead with a RBI-bunt single of his own, laying it down the third base line and legging it out to bring in Kingsolver and the final Titan run of the game. Kingsolver finished the game with a pair of walks and two runs scored.
LMU managed to put a runner on in the ninth when Harkin drew a one-out walk, but Lorenzen traded his centerfield spot for a spot on the mound, striking out pinch-hitter Kyle Raubinger and Plaia to end the game and thwart any potential threat.
The Lions return to action on Friday at 2 p.m. when they open a three-game road series at UC Santa Barbara. The three games will cap a string of eight straight games against the Big West Conference. LMU is 0-5 so far against the Big West, stretching the entirety of its current five-game losing streak.
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