Noe Ramirez returned to the bump after sitting out the weekend series (emphasizing academics) and was touched for a run in each of the first three innings, two on solo home runs. While it was far from his best outing, he minimized damage with one run in each of the first three innings. (I remember turning to my imaginary friend Nathan and remarking that at least Noe wasn't digging us into an insurmountable hole.) The ball was also carrying like a rocket on the warm evening.
Meanwhile, Johnny Wholestaff was pitching for Rich Hill's Torreros. First Guy was yanked after 1 1/3 innings of no-hit ball. His replacement, Second Guy, gave up a leadoff single to RF Tyler Pill in the third inning, balked him to second and was replaced by Third Guy. A Joe Scott sacrifice and a Joey Siddons groundout made it 3-1, and Christian Colon's home run off the screen in leftfield made it 3-2.
In need of some work after struggling in the closer role recently, Michael Morrison entered the game in the top of the fifth. He threw three straight balls far out of the strike zone, but retired the hitter on an infield pop-up. But Jon Hotta whacked a triple deep to right-centerfield and 3B Siddons immediately alerted the dugout that Morrison needed attention for what looked (from Mikey Mo's reaction) like a charley horse or lower back tweak. Freshman Colin O'Connell was summoned and given unlimited time to warm up. His first pitch to Chris Engell (who had homered in the first inning) was pounded into leftfield for an RBI single. A 5-4-3 double-play prevented worse damage.
O'Connell was also touched for a solo tally in the sixth inning when he hit the leadoff man and scattered two singles. Once again, the Titans trailed by three runs (5-2).
The Titans got one of the runs back in the sixth inning and had a chance for more. Christian Colon singled and scored on a gap-job double to left-centerfield by Josh Fellhauer off of Fifth Guy. But Fifth Guy settled down and retired Jared Clark and Nick Ramirez to escape further damage.
After O'Connell threw a scoreless seventh inning, the Titans made their big comeback rally. Dustin Garneau hit a bomb to left-centerfield against Fifth Guy to cut the deficit to 5-4. When he committed the cardinal sin of walking the #8 and #9 hitters (Scott and Siddons), Fifth Guy got yanked.
Reliever Ryan Ackland made the lead stand up with a six-out save, his first of the season.
So what did we learn last night?
My neighbors learned not to ask me for scores from ice hockey or basketball games while we're watching a baseball game. Get real, people! It is April and it's been a hundred degrees out there: hockey was meant to be played on frozen ponds and basketball is something you do in the winter to stay in shape for playing sports. It's Titan time!
Khris Davis was inactive last night, which caused some line-up shifts. Siddons played third base - and made one excellent play ranging far to his left - while Brown played left and Pill was in right. Brown made a great over-the-shoulder grab of a long ball early in the game that looked like it might find its way off the scoreboard when it left the bat.
The top of the line-up was reconfigured, with Colon leading off and Brown hitting second. I was surprised the Titans eschewed the bunt in the first inning: trailing 1-0, Colon led off with a HBP and Brown was allowed to hit away. Result: double-play. But Colon and Brown ended up the offensive heroes of the game. Colon had three hits, including the home run and the game-tying single, while Brown had two hits and the huge triple that gave the Titans the lead in the seventh inning rally.
Garneau moved up to the #6 slot and started the rally with his long home run.
I'd love to tell you more, but I need to get to work so I can sneak out early and catch the game this afternoon at Pepperdine. I hope to see you there!