Weekend Wrap-up:Titans Win 2 of 3 From Fresno St

Ben Fritz scored three runs and pitched a grueling complete game on Sunday to lead Fresno State past Cal State Fullerton, 10-4, salvaging one victory in a three-game series at Goodwin Field.

After giving up four runs in the first inning, Fritz (1-1) blanked Fullerton on five hits the rest of the way.

Jeff Housman (0-2) took the loss For Cal State Fullerton (3-3), lasting just 4 1/3 innings. Housman gave up eight runs, but just three were earned as Fullerton made four errors in ridiculously high, 20 mph winds.

Already leading 5-4, Fresno State (2-4) scored three back-breaking runs in the fifth inning.

Fritz began the rally by reaching on David Munoz's throwing error. Three batters later, Bulldogs catcher Brad Harper rolled what appeared to be a double-play grounder to second, but Jason Corapci kicked it -- opening the door to a bases-loaded walk to Brian Pierce and a two-run, two-out single by No. 9 hitter Casey Creamer.

The Titans first-inning outburst came by way of Shane Costa's run-scoring double and two-out RBI singles from Richie Burgos, Corapci and Mike Martinez.

Fullerton won Friday, 3-0, and Saturday, 17-11. Here is TitanCentral.com's analysis of Weekend No. 2 ...

PITCHING: Wes Littleton marked this weekend's most significant development, coming within an out of a pitching a complete-game shutout on Friday.

Littleton gave up six hits and (just as importantly) walked just one batter in the 2-hour, 1-minute game. This dominating effort was the best evidence yet that Littleton (1-1) could become a solid weekend starter.

Housman has been a one-sided loser (17-1 at Stanford on Feb. 2) twice but he's had no defensive help in either game. The season is young and his jury is still out.

Darric Merrell was not sharp, and neither was his reliever Jordan DeJong (1-0) on Saturday. But when your team scores 17 runs, giving up 11 doesn't seem quite as bad.

And along that same line, closer Chad ``Chief'' Cordero has good when he needed to be (a three-pitch strikeout save on Friday) and shaky when it really didn't matter (three hits in 1.1 mop-up inning on Sunday).

FIELDING: This needs to improve ... soon.

A seven- error weekend at Stanford was followed by a six miscues against Fresno State.

In Fullerton's defense, the four errors of Sunday were made under the most difficult conditions. The powerful gusts made an immediate impact, as Corpaci dropped a wind-twisted, first-inning popup that was generously scored an infield double.

The high winds never let up. Cordero took matters into his own hands by coming off the mound to catch a ninth-inning popup rather than risking a running stab by either his catcher or infielders.

On the upside, Fullerton turned four double plays against Fresno State.

HITTING: Martinez drove in eight runs Saturday to highlight a six-hit, nine-RBI weekend. After losing his job to Mike Rouse a year ago and beginning 2002 on the pine, Martinez made the most of his three starts against Fresno State.

If Martinez jumps back into the starting picture, that would likely push opening day third baseman Burgos over to first base. Playing both first and third this weekend, Burgos had another solid series, going 4 for 10.

Corapci (4 for 13, 4 runs, 3 RBI) also had a good weekend, particularly on Friday night when the Titans made the most of just five hits. Corapci sparked the efficient Fullerton offense with an RBI-groundout and two-run homer.

The Titans were far less efficient on Sunday, scoring just four runs on 10 hits and three Fresno State errors. The seventh inning typified Sunday's frustration, when Kyle Boyer lined into an inning-ending, bases-loaded, 1-5 double play.

P.J. Pilittere (5 for 10), Costa (4 for 10) and Chris Stringfellow (4 for 11) had good weekends at the plate, while leadoff man Munoz (1 for 8, with one run scored) struggled.

David Manning is an occasional contributor to www.TitanCentral.com and can be reached at DavidManning12@aol.com.