Darric Merrell (1-0), Jordan DeJong and Chad Cordero weaved in and out of trouble all day as Stanford hitters went a combined 2 for 11 with runners in scoring position. Stanford, ranked No. 1 in all three polls, twice failed to score with a runner at third base and less than two outs. Shane Costa and Kyle Boyer each drove in two runs, and Richie Burgos had two hits to spark the 13-hit Fullerton attack.
With the Titans clinging to a 4-3 lead in the seventh, Chris Stringfellow drew a lead-off walk and Stanford brought in southpaw reliever Dan Rich to face the lefty Costa who responded with a line-drive double down the right-field line.
After Boyer delivered a sacrifice fly, the left-handed Burgos drove home Costa with a single.
Sunday's victory gave the Titans a much-needed boost after a 7-4 loss on Friday and a 17-1 demolition (worst in school history) on Saturday. Now here's a TitanCentral.com analysis of Weekend 1:
FIELDING: This was the most disappointing aspect of the Titans' play this weekend, as seven errors led to five unearned runs for Stanford. Fullerton pitchers made three of the miscues. Merrell made two errant throws in the fourth inning on Sunday and Saturday losing pitcher Jeff Housman allowed a soft dribbler to go through his legs.
Friday's losing pitcher, Wes Littleton, could have drawn an error when he fielded a comebacker and had Stanford base runner Ryan Garko caught off second base. But a run down never took place because Littleton threw low to shortstop Munoz, who dropped the ball and allowed Garko to take third base. While Munoz drew the error, it could have easily gone to Littleton. Munoz (two), Stringfellow and Costa all made errors this weekend.
PITCHING: The most intriguing performance of the series came from DeJong, who tossed 5 2/3 innings of one-hit shutout ball on Friday and Sunday.
The senior, who began his career as a Titan, transferred to Tennessee and is now back at Fullerton, put himself in top contention for a weekend starting spot or to assume the crucial set up role that Mike Nunez filled so well down the stretch last season. As a Vol in 2000, DeJong pitched in 20 games (10 starts and 10 relief appearances).
While Merrell was far from dominant on Sunday (7 hits in 5 1/3 IP), the sophomore showed mental toughness by ending four innings with runners in scoring position.
Littleton (4 2/3 IP, 7 R, 4 ER) struggled on Friday, and made one particularly bad pitch he might have been able to avoid. Carlos Quentin slammed a three-run, first-inning homer after Littleton had jumped ahead in the count, 1-2. With two outs and first base open, Littleton challenged the powerful Stanford hitter, and Quentin drove a long homer off the left-field scoreboard.
Stanford victimized Housman, Sean Martin and Charlie Zahari during a miserable nine-run fourth inning on Saturday. The explosion had a little of everything: nine hits, two hit batters and an error.
It got so bad that shortstop-third baseman Mike Martinez came off the bench to throw one inning (giving up just one run). Martinez took the mound with some credentials: He was 12-1 his senior year at Katella High School. Martinez was originally recruited to pitch but had never seen any action on the mound for Fullerton until Saturday's mop-up duty.
HITTING: The bottom of third of Fullerton's lineup showed promise, collecting eight hits and three RBI this weekend.
Geoff Comfort hit a home run Friday, P.J. Pilittere went 2 for 5 before resting on Sunday and No. 9 hitter Nick Fitzgerald went 3 for 10. The Titans' leadoff man, Munoz, and No. 2 hitter Stringfellow struggled Friday and Saturday before having a big Sunday.
Stringfellow struck out all four at-bats on Friday. But he came back to get one hit on Saturday and reached base three times on Sunday (along with a sacrifice bunt).
David Manning will be a regular contributor to baseball coverage on TitanCentral.com. He can be reached at DavidManning12@aol.com.