Titans Take Two of Three in Las Vegas

<p>Who wants the pressure of perfection anyway?<p> OK, well maybe Cal State Fullerton wouldn't mind having to bear the weight of flawless record. But Fullerton is nonetheless pleased with the 8-1 mark it'll bring into this weekend's series against Nevada.

The Titans left Las Vegas with two victories, but fell short of their third consecutive weekend sweep on Sunday when UNLV held on for an 8-6 victory. UNLV (6-3) came back with a gritty effort after consecutive humiliating losses to the Titans.

Fullerton bats overwhelmed UNLV pitchers on Friday and Saturday, posting 23-3 and 14-1 victories, respectively. By their own admission, Sunday's UNLV victory was more important to the Rebels than it was detrimental to Fullerton.

``After the first two days, we kind of felt like we had something to prove,'' said UNLV reliever Ryan Braun. ``We knew we could play with anybody in the country. We just had to show it.''

In one of the most unique relief appearances the Titans will ever see, Braun entered the ninth inning Sunday and gave up a homer and single while recording one out. That's when he was dispatched to left field, and Friday starter Robbie Van entered and surrendered a double and walk in his failed save attempt.

Braun came back to the mound with the bases loaded and got CF Kyle Boyer on a popup and struck out LF Danny Dorn to end it.

``That goes totally against everything I believe,'' UNLV Coach Jim Schlossnagle said of using Van with just one day of rest. ``That's the first time I've done that in my career. I won't do that again.''

Wes Littleton (2-0) and Ryan Schreppel (3-0) threw solid games in victory, but Dustin Miller (1-1) struggled in his second straight outing. He lasted just 1 1/3 innings against UNLV, giving up four runs and four hits.

Titans skipper George Horton and pitching coach Dave Serrano pulled Miller fast on Sunday, perhaps in search of other options at the No. 3 starter spot.

Lefty Ricky Romero, who missed a midweek audition last week when the UCLA game was rained out, was only a shade more effective, giving up five hits and two runs in 3 2/3 innings.

Miller was one of several Titans who battled the flu last week, and reliever John Tucker said he's still confident in the redshirt freshman.

``I'll tell him to be positive and try to encourage him and come back next week and try to get better first of all. Take care of himself and then come out and hit his spots, throw strikes,'' said Tucker, who entered the game in the sixth inning Sunday and induced a rally-killing DP ball.

Of course with Darric Merrell and Travis Ingle close to their returns to action, Fullerton's pitching options remain wide open.

The Titans have no midweek game this week and face Nevada at Goodwin Field for a three- game set starting Friday.

Nevada will come to Goodwin Field at 4-6. The Wolfpack won two of three at St. Mary's over the weekend before losing, 5-4, at Stanford on Monday. Nevada had lost two of three to both Pacific and Cal State Northridge. The Cardinal is 7-5 and have won four in row since being swept by Fullerton and losing two of three to Florida State. Stanford travels to Austin this weekend for three games agains defending national champion Texas

Some factoids from this past weekend in Las Vegas:

  • Hitting with runners in scoring position, a strength all season and in the first two Vegas games, was the weakness in Sunday's loss. Fullerton was 10 for 28 and 7 for 22, respectively, in RISP chances on Friday and Saturday. The Titans were just 1 for 8 on Sunday. Titans pitchers were tough all week in the clutch, limiting Rebels hitters to 4 for 18 in RISP situations.

  • The Titans' twin-killing machine kept on rolling, turning six double plays in Vegas.

  • SS Justin Smyres had the single worst day of his offensive season on Sunday, striking out twice and hitting in a DP before being pulled for a pinch hitter in the ninth.

  • DH Sergio Pedroza gave the Titans some valuable sock from the bottom of the order, going 4 for 5, scoring four runs, two homers and three RBI.

  • Closer Chad Cordero had his first shaky game of the season, giving up a two-run, eighth-inning homer that gave UNLV some crucial insurance.

  • RF Shane Costa (7 for 18), Dorn (6 for 11) and Boyer (6 for 14) hit well all weekend.