FULLERTON — Cal State Fullerton had only one hit through six innings against Florida State starter Randy Choate Friday night in the Anaheim Hilton & Towers Baseball Classic.
"We were trying too hard," Titan Coach Augie Garrido said. So Garrido called his players together for a talk before the seventh inning.
"He told us just to be ourselves," shortstop Jack Jones said. "That's his way of telling us to relax."
And the Titans came to life, with a three-run flurry that carried them to a 3-1 victory in front of 1,967 at Titan Field. It was the 10th consecutive victory for Fullerton after a season-opening loss at Stanford. The loss was Florida State's first in eight games this season.
Sophomore outfielder Steve Chatham's bases-loaded, two-run double to right was the big hit in the seventh. Jones singled to start the inning, Mark Kotsay doubled with one out, and Brian Loyd was intentionally walked to load the bases for Chatham. Tony Martinez drove in the final run with a single.
"I knew the team really needed a hit then," Chatham said. "Coach just told me to take a normal at-bat. Their guy was pitching well, and I was glad I could get a swing at one." Choate had walked Chatham twice and hit him once.
It was Choate's first loss in four starts this season. Scott Hild (2-0) picked up the victory, giving up five hits in six innings. Mark Chavez got his second save, giving up only one hit in the final three innings.
"I thought both of our pitchers pitched great," said associate head George Horton. "Scott is really focused, and it doesn't matter to him who he's pitching against. He was going to come out at that point anyway, but it was nice that he was able to get rewarded with the victory. He's been real consistent for us."
Kirk Irvine (2-1) is Fullerton's scheduled starter for tonight's game against Oklahoma, which lost to USC, 8-4, Friday. Florida State and USC meet at 2:30 p.m., in the second day of the tournament that features four teams that played in last year's College World Series.
Hild gave up a bases-empty home run to Scott Zech with two out in the second inning, and it looked big until Fullerton's seventh. The Titans had six runners on base in the first four innings without scoring. Fullerton stranded two in the second and three in the fourth.
Switch-hitting Jerome Alviso, batting right-handed against Choate, struck out to end the second and popped out to short right to end the fourth.
Jones got the first hit off Choate when he lined a single up the middle to begin the fifth. He moved to second on Jeremy Giambi's bunt, but Kotsay popped out and Loyd bounced out to Choate, ending the inning.
Choate walked Chatham to start the Titan sixth and Martinez's sacrifice moved him to second. C.J. Ankrum walked, but Aaron Rowand grounded out to short on a hit and run, leaving runners on second and third. Fullerton gambled on a squeeze bunt, but first baseman Adam Faurot was able to field the ball and tag out Alviso.
Florida State threatened again in the sixth after a leadoff triple by J.D. Drew. Hild gave up a walk with one out, but Martinez turned Zech's ground ball down the third-base line into a double play.