Liebel drops duel to Fullerton’s Kaplan

LONG BEACH, Calif. – With just three games separating Big West rivals No. 7 Cal State Fullerton and Long Beach State from the Big West Conference title, the two duked it out Friday night in front of 2,532 at Blair Field in a pitching-dominated match. Andrew Liebel (8-3) took the 4-1 loss for the Dirtbags (14-8 Big West, 35-19 overall), as he dropped a pitchers duel with Titans’ (16-6 Big West, 37-17 overall) Jeff Kaplan (11-1).

Jared Clark led the game going 3-for-5 with two doubles, two runs and two RBIs. Josh Fellhauer finished 2 for 4 with a run. TJ Mittelstaedt scored the Dirtbags lone run in the sixth.

It was Liebel who was hit first, as Josh Fellhauer took an infield single off the right-hander to lead off the game, and scored the game’s first run in CSF’s two-run fourth. Fellhauer sliced a sharp single up the center to lead off the inning and was moved over on Christian Colon’s second sac bunt of the night. Liebel got Erik Komatsu to fly out, but gave up an RBI double to Clark. Second baseman Jason Tweedy then misplayed a slower roller, allowing it to get behind him and Clark to score from second.

The Titans pushed two more over the plate in the sixth, as fielding errors caused by the rain continued to plague the Dirtbags.

Kaplan took a no-hitter through three innings, walking one, until Steve Tinoco reached base with an infield single. Travis Howell led off the sixth with an infield single, just Kaplan’s second hit surrendered, before an hour and 37-minute rain delay ensued. Kaplan threw just 10 pitches after the delay, finishing up five and 1/3 innings of work having given up just one earned on three hits, one walk and striking out three.

Liebel went just six innings, just the second time in the season he failed to pitch into the seventh, being taken for four runs (two earned) on five hits, walking one and striking out just one.

Adam Jorgenson got the save (10) for the Titans, tossing two scoreless innings, striking out one and allowing just one hit.

Jake Thompson (2-5, 4.48) will square off on the mound against Daniel Renken (5-5, 3.82) Saturday night at 6:30 at Blair Field.

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