FULLERTON – Junior righthander Steffi Best tossed a complete-game, six-hitter versus Big West Conference leader Cal State Fullerton Saturday afternoon, but a two-out double from right fielder Kelsie Whitmore in the bottom of the ninth helped hand the Titans a 2-1 victory to open a three-game series and doubleheader at Anderson Family Field. Cal Poly – despite the first career three-hit performance from sophomore second baseman Sarah Wulff (above) – also dropped game No. 2, 6-1, after Whitmore hit a pair of two-run homers.
During Saturday's opening matchup, Cal Poly starting junior righthander Steffi Best kept Cal State Fullerton hitless through the opening three and two-third innings, facing just two Titans over the minimum until first baseman Daisy Munoz singled during the bottom of the fourth.
Cal Poly, meanwhile, saw its first 11 hitters retired in order by Cal State Fullerton starting righthander Dani Martinez (16-6) until freshman designated player Lily Amos drew a walk with two down in the top of the fourth. Junior first baseman Hailey Martin followed with Cal Poly's first hit before senior catcher Makenna Young delivered the game's opening run, tucking a single inside the right field line to bring home Amos.
Handed the lead, Best conceded Munoz's hit in the fourth and retired the Titans in order to complete the fifth. However, second baseman Alexa Neal drew a walk to open the bottom half of the sixth and center fielder Ari Williams followed with an infield single. Neal then moved to third on a fly out from third baseman Deshea Hill before scoring through a sacrifice fly from designated player Zoe Richard.
Best and Cal Poly stranded one Titan baserunner to close the seventh and produced a double-play grounder to cap the eighth. Offensively though, Cal Poly was held hitless by Martinez after notching the game's opening run.
The Titans eventually broke the stalemate in the ninth. After Best recorded two outs on eight pitches, shortstop Sam Kennedy singled off of Best's glove and up the middle. Catcher Julia Valenzuela next drew a five-pitch walk before Whitmore doubled to close the game.
During Saturday's second game, Cal Poly (10-37, 4-13) once more struck the opening blow with Young again producing the game's opening run by doubling home Wulff with two down in the top of the first.
Cal State Fullerton (34-16, 14-3), however, answered at the first opportunity. With one down and Williams at first following a single, Hill grounded a ball that was backhanded by senior Noa Yakir at third base. Yakir's throw to Wulff covering second was wide and Williams scored to tie the matchup, 1-1.
The Titans required just one more inning to take the lead as Whitmore lined a two-out homer to right center field to hand Cal State Fullerton the 3-1 advantage. Williams then ran the lead to 4-1 with a triple to right center that plated second baseman Alexa Neil.
Cal Poly starting sophomore righthander Dakota Casper (2-9) retired the Titans in order to end the third, but Whitmore returned in the fourth with her second homer to extend Cal State Fullerton's lead to 6-1.
Following the first inning, Cal Poly collected five hits and advanced three baserunners into scoring position, but none past second.
Junior designated player Shelby Jeffries added two hits for Cal Poly in game No. 2.
Cal Poly and Cal State Fullerton complete the three-game series with a 1 p.m. matchup on Sunday, May 5.
Photo courtesy of Shea Hammond