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College Baseball: Lopez, Titans prove unbeatable

Cal State Fullerton senior's second straight walk-off homer completes sweep and drops 'Eaters to sixth place.

May 19, 2013|By Barry Faulkner

FULLERTON – For the third straight game, Cal State Fullerton fifth-year senior Carlos Lopez erased a UC Irvine lead to produce a dramatic baseball victory for the Titans. Turns out, it was Lopez who also got away from the Anteaters.

"It's pretty funny, because I was supposed to go to Irvine," Lopez said after he hit his second walk-off home run in two days on Sunday, this time a three-run shot with one out in the ninth off reliever Evan Brock to give the host Titans a 7-5 triumph to sweep the three-game Big West Conference series in front of 2,551 at Goodwin Field. "I committed to Irvine when I was a sophomore [at Crespi High in 2006]. Then, when [then-UCI Coach Dave] Serrano came [to Fullerton following the 2007 season], I came over with him. So that was kind of a turn of fate on how that worked out."

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Lopez hit a solo home run with two outs in the ninth to break a 2-2 tie on Saturday. He drove in the game-winning run with a single to cap a 14-pitch at-bat in the Titans' 5-2 come-from-behind victory on Friday.

"He looked like Don Mattingly in his day," Gillespie said of Lopez, who was hitless in his first four plate appearances Sunday, including a sixth-inning walk. "The pitch was down, and on the inner half, instead of the outer half, but how much complaining can you do. [Lopez] looked like a big-time Hall of Famer today ... and yesterday and the day before."

Lopez said Gillespie had issued what he thought was his goodbye at the conclusion of the two team's series in 2012 at Anteater Ballpark.

"He told me congrats, I had a great career and he was glad he'd never see me again," Lopez said of the 2012 conversation before he was not selected in the Major League Draft and elected to return for his final season of eligibility. 'When [Gillespie] saw me again before Friday's game, he said, 'I thought we were done with you.'

"I think as long as I can remember it, I will tell this [three-game] story," Lopez said. "It's pretty unbelievable, even when I think about it."

UCI (31-20, 13-11 in conference), which has now lost five straight and seven of the last eight to its Orange County rival, to which it has lost the last four conference series, could be done in terms of earning a postseason berth.

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