Fullerton came from behind and rallied in the sixth inning to score six runs, snatching the lead out of Long Beach’s hands and earning the win in the final game of the rivalry series.
The Titans took Sunday’s game 9-6 after defeating the 49ers 5-2 and falling to them 1-0 on Saturday.
With an attendance of 490 Saturday afternoon, the 49ers kicked off the first game of the rivalry series with senior shortstop Nichole Fry, launching a leadoff single up the middle. Fry scored instantly with a hit by second batter senior Jamie Wren, who bounced a one-hopper off of the left field fence.
“I practiced my at bats,” Fry said. “[In practice] I worked on feeling comfortable in the box and seeing pitches I can drive and using that in our games.”
Fullerton didn’t come close to scoring until the fifth inning when Julia Valenzuela hit a hard chopper up the middle and found herself on first base. Kelsie Whitmore hit a shot over freshman center fielder Maddy Ruffin’s head in center field, prompting Valenzuela to race home. Ruffin fired the ball in for a relay, catching Valenzuela out at home and preventing the Titans from tying the game.
Long Beach responded to Fullerton’s attempt to attack in the bottom of the fifth, when Wren traveled to first base once again after dropping the ball into right field. Wren was moved over to second when sophomore right fielder Alyssa Gonzales placed a second blooper into right. Ruffin singled down the right foul line and drove in Wren, doing a celebratory dance for her team while standing on first.
Fullerton finally broke through in the sixth when Ari Williams singled to the shortstop and added to her school record by stealing second. Deshea Hill hit a hard grounder down the third baseline, moving Williams to third and only 60 feet away from scoring. Sam Kennedy came up to bat and bunted, allowing Fullerton head coach Kelly Ford to give Williams the green light to sprint home. Junior third baseman Sydney McCollum fielded the bunt, but Williams snuck her way past her and into home to bring the score to 2-1.
The Titans continued to retaliate after Janelle Rodriguez was hit by a pitch to put runners on first and third. A grounder by Valenzuela was met by a diving save from Fry, who tossed the ball up to second in an attempt to get the third out and cancel out the run at home, but found no success. Evelyn Sablan, who pinch ran for Hill, touched the plate and Fullerton fans chanted “We’re not done yet!”
Whitmore walked to load the bases and pinch runner Jasmyn Vigilante scored on a pass ball. Leadoff batter Alexa Neil hit a grounder into center field and the ball ricocheted off of Ruffin’s foot, quickly flying towards the left foul line. The error scored Whitmore and Valenzuela, bringing the score to 5-2 and sealing the final score of the game.
“I thought we could’ve had a little bit more energy,” head coach Kim Sowder said. “We need to do a better job of making adjustments.”
The second game of the series started off with a bang as Fry launched a homer over the left center fence, earning her sixth home run of the season.
Fullerton made attempts to score by putting runners on base, but ultimately left them all stranded. One attempt was made by Kennedy, who sent a line drive into right field, giving Gonzales her first career catch in the outfield.
The shutout was credited to junior pitcher Ashley Coleman, who pitched a full game and struck out seven.
“We knew we had to bounce back so it gave us a little bit of momentum,” Fry said. “The first game was really tough so we really focused this game and put it together.”
Coleman started on the mound once again in the third and final game of the series that took place Sunday afternoon.
Wren fired up the offensive attack in the first inning by singling up the middle. Fry and Gonzales walked to load the bases, and senior designated player Lauren Lombardi grounded to the shortstop to score Wren but sacrificed Gonzales at second. Junior infielder Taylor Rowland hit a shot up the middle that deflected off of pitcher Sophie Frost’s glove, allowing Fry to score the second run of the inning.
Frost walked Ruffin and loaded the bases once again. A pitching change was made and Dani Martinez was subbed in, which backfired immediately as Martinez beaned Katelyn Hanson on the first pitch and gave the 49ers an unearned run.
Fullerton put one on the board with a powerful hit by Valenzuela, who drove it down the first base foul line and brought in Paola Villegas, who pinch ran for Daisy Munoz after she was walked at the start of the inning. The rally and the inning came to an end with a one-hop throw from Ruffin, who gunned Valenzuela out at home after fielding a grounder off of Whitmore’s bat.
Additional runs were scored by the Titans in the fifth inning, when Williams was walked and Hill found the sweet spot on the bat, launching the ball straight up the middle and over the fence in center field. This brought the score to a tie at 3-3.
The fifth inning saw the 49ers break out of the tie with runs scored by Fry, Gonzales, and Naomi Hernandez. The three runs produced a 6-3 lead.
“There’s always gonna be that rivalry and these games do mean a lot because they are a good program and we always want to give them a good game,” Fry said. “I think that our team really wants it and we always want to beat them.”
Fullerton put the nail in the coffin in the 6th inning by blasting past Long Beach with a six-run rally. The rally started after junior pitcher Kellie White was subbed in to pitch, and the first three batters loaded the bases by walking or getting hit by the bal. Coleman reentered, and was pegged with the loss after the rocky inning.
“I wish our pitchers would have not given free passes,” Sowder said. “I don’t know how many of the runs were from walks or hit batters. You gotta lead… you can’t give up walks in that point in the game.”
Long Beach hosts the first two games of the UC Santa Barbara series 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. Friday.