Our backs weren't even hurting yet from the aluminum bleacher seatbacks when Christian Colon defied the strong wind blowing in and led off the game with a home run to leftfield. CC placed it perfectly: the foul poles are a short 310 feet from the plate, but the field fans out quickly to 385 in the power alleys and 410 to centerfield.
After Renken tossed a 1-2-3 bottom of the first, the Titans wasted no time getting to Aggies lefty starter Quist for five runs in the second. Dustin Garneau (single) and Tony Harkey (double) set the table, followed by Joe Scott's RBI groundout. Siddons drove in Harkey with an RBI single, but was gunned down at the plate attempting to score on Colon's double. Gary Brown then doubled in Colon and scored on Josh Fellhauer's RBI single. Felly advanaced around the bases on a throw, a wild pitch and a balk.
Khris Davis led off the third inning with a single, stole second and went to third on Garneau's single. When Garneau successfully stole second, the throw went into centerfield and Davis scored the Titans' eighth run on the error.
From that point on, the game storyline revolved around Renken and his bid for a no-hitter (as well as how long our backs could last.) He walked a few guys, but held the Aggies hitless through five innings. He had excellent defensive support, with Joe Scott making an excellent backhand of a ball hit hard up the middle and Josh Fellhauer perfectly positioned to catch a sharp line-drive to short centerfield, doubling a runner off second base. Renken helped himself to end the fifth inning with a ball hit hard up the middle that deflected off him; sans glove, he retreated and fired the ball to Jared Clark, just barely ahead of the runner.
In the bottom of the sixth, Renken walked the leadoff man, retired the next two and then walked Justin Schafer. Ty Kelley then hit a high bouncer that neither Renken or Colon had a chance to make a play on for the first Aggies hit of the game. Renken struck out the next hitter to leave the bases loaded. The Fullerton fans applauded loudly, although I'm not certain if it was for Renken's outstanding performance or the announcement that the concession stand was closing.
The Aggies finally broke the scoring ice against Renken in the bottom of the seventh with two singles, a wild pitch and a groundout. But the Titans responded with three runs in the eighth. Jeff Newman and Joe Scott started the inning with singles and scored two outs later on Gary Brown's opposite field triple. Brown scored easily on a wild pitch to make it 11-1.
After Renken finished his work for the day with a scoreless eighth inning, the Titans teased the triskaidekaphobiacs in the crowd when they reached the magic thirteenth run (do they still have "13 pools" in bars and offices?). Jeff Newman walked and Matthew Fahey and Joey Siddons singled. One run scored on a sacrifice fly by Christian Colon and, after Brown's infield hit that rolled and came to rest against the third base bag, Felly walked with the bases loaded to drive in the game's final run.
Freshman Colin O'Connell finished up with a 1-2-3 ninth inning, supported by a couple nice plays by Shevis Shima at second-base.
So what did we learn today?
First of all, we learned that it is one long drive to UC Davis. Can you imagine what that ride was like before iPODs and satellite radio? I was delighted that Freddie Blassie's "Pencil Neck Geek" still gets played on the radio. Can you believe it has been 25 years since Depeche Mode released their classic "Blasphemous Rumours"?
Speaking of music, they play "Louie Louie" after the top of the seventh inning at Dobbins Complex, instead of "Take Me Out to the Ballgame." What the heck kind of time honored tradition is that?
Gary Brown, who has played innings in all three outfield positions this week, continues his sizzling play. Brown was 4-for-6 today, with a double, triple and three RBI. Felly is Felly: he went 3-for-5 with 2 RBI. The 21-hit attack included two each by Colon (home run and double), Khris Davis, Joe Scott and Joey Siddons. Nine different Titans scored at least one run.
The hitting revival is very encouraging....but let's not start sculpting those statues again just yet. The team is back to doing what it is expected to do: score lots of runs against "Johnny Allstaff" (San Diego and Pepperdine) and a team entering play with a team ERA of 7.40 (UC Davis). But after the inevitable swoon the first few weeks of April, these guys could be ready to peak again at just the right time.
Finally, for those of us that think the umps are blind whenever our beloved Titans are called out at the plate, let's give kudos to Jeff Henrichs for getting it right. Joey Siddons made a great slide to try to avoid the tag at the plate after a strong relay throw following Colon's double, but the catcher did apply the tag with Joey's fingers just inches away from the plate. (Click on pic to enlarge and see just how close it was.) Good call, Jeff!