FULLERTON — Joy Tiner's bases-loaded, bloop single in the top of the eighth inning gave the Cal State Fullerton softball team a 3-2 victory over Cal State Long Beach Friday night in the first game of a best-of-three NCAA regional series.
The teams will meet again at 1 today at Fullerton, and a second game will follow if necessary. The regional winner earns a berth in the College World Series, which begins Wednesday in Oklahoma City.
A crowd of about 400 at Titan Field saw Fullerton (45-21) take advantage of two 49er errors in the eighth. Carey Hess reached first on pitcher Mary Letourneau's fielding error, and Mich DeBree reached when first baseman Kellie Kane mishandled her bunt.
The Titans loaded the bases when Kane's throw to third on Charlotte Wiley's bunt wasn't in time to force Hess. Long Beach reliever Ruby Flores came on to get Missy Coombes to line to left field for the first out, but Tiner, who also had an RBI single in the fourth, placed a soft single over shortstop Kim Kostyk's head for the game-winning run.
Fullerton pitcher Ann Van Dortrecht, who improved to 29-10, retired the 49ers (45-17) in the eighth with the help of an outstanding defensive play by shortstop Wiley. Lisa Pedersen's hard grounder caromed off Van Dortrecht's glove and toward Wiley, who made a bare-handed grab and fired to first in time for the second out.
Steffani Everett, who had three hits for Long Beach, singled to center, but Gia Wilkerson popped to short to end the game.
"There have been tough games all year between the two of us, and this was just another one," said Fullerton Coach Judi Garman, whose Titans had lost four of five games to the 49ers, all by one run. "It's nice to win the first game of the series, because now the pressure is on Long Beach."
Fullerton, ranked fifth in the nation, scored once in the fourth when Wiley singled to left and advanced to second when the ball got past left fielder Wilkerson. Wiley reached third on a groundout and scored on Tiner's single to right.
But the fourth-ranked 49ers came back in the bottom of the fourth, scoring twice to take a 2-1 lead. Wilkerson singled and scored on Carrie Smith's double, and Smith scored when Titan left fielder Buffy Sanchez couldn't handle Heather Illsley's low liner.
Fullerton tied the score in the sixth, when Hess doubled, was sacrificed to third and scored on Wiley's single to center.