The game began with Cal State Fullerton shortstop Jerome Alviso letting a routine ground ball roll between his legs, and it didn’t get any better for the Titans after that.
Fullerton gave up 18 hits, made four errors and lost the deciding third game of a baseball series against Pepperdine, 15-7, Sunday in front of 1,288 at Titan Field.
The loss was the fifth in the last six games for the Titans (8-7). Two of those losses were against No. 1-ranked Florida State, but the two over the weekend were against a team that had won only twice in its first 10 games. And they came after a 11-3 midweek loss to lightly regarded Loyola Marymount.
A bad week for a team that began it ranked 12th nationally.
Pepperdine (4-9) manhandled Fullerton’s pitching for the second day in row, even though the Titans won Saturday’s game, 16-15. It was the first time a Fullerton team has given up as many as 30 runs in consecutive games since the school began playing Division I baseball in 1975.
“It shows us that we’ve got a lot of work to do,” Titan Coach George Horton said. “We’re not nearly as good as we need to be in all phases of the game.”
The Titan pitching rotation definitely will go back to the drawing board. Horton said junior Brian Tokarse, who held Pepperdine to one hit in two late innings of relief Saturday, will get his first start in a midweek, two-game series at Fresno State, and freshman Michael Garner will go back to the bullpen.
Scott Hild, the only starter back from a year ago, lost his third game in four decisions Sunday, giving up 11 hits and nine runs in six innings although five of the runs were unearned. Dustin Spencer and Steve Lawson also struggled in relief. The three pitchers gave up eight walks and hit one batter.
“We have some obvious deficiencies in our pitching, but it’s difficult to pitch when we’re giving the other team four or five outs an inning,” Horton said. “It’s harder to play defense, though, when the pitchers are always behind.
“Hild was a little better than he has been, but he’s not a strikeout pitcher. He has to be able to put the ball in play, and it puts a lot of pressure on him if we don’t make the plays defensively.”
The Titans trailed, 4-2, before Pepperdine scored three runs in the fifth. Two Titan errors were costly, including one when third baseman Mike Lamb’s throw hit a Pepperdine runner in the back on a play at the plate.
Outfielder Josh Oder led Pepperdine with four hits and three runs batted in. Randy Wolf, the Waves’ designated hitter and top pitcher, drove in three runs with two hits.
The Titans had 10 hits, including two-run homers by C.J. Ankrum and Scott Seal. It was Seal’s third homer of the season and second in two games. Alviso and Nakia Hill had two hits.
Pepperdine starter Steve Schenewerk (1-1) held the Titans to four runs on the two homers through seven innings and picked up the victory.
Horton said he’s confident that the team can come back after the slow start. “I remember we struggled like this at first with a new team in 1991,” said Horton, referring to Augie Garrido’s first year back as head coach at Fullerton after two years at Illinois. “We had to make some changes, but we came back and won a share of the conference championship.”