FULLERTON — This time, UC Irvine pitcher Andrew Thurman lost more than just a strong bid for a no-hitter.
For the second time in two seasons, Cal State Fullerton broke up a no-hit bid late against Thurman, who frustrated the Titans through eight no-hit innings last year in a 4-1 home win.
But in the opener of a three-game Big West Conference series on Friday, the host Titans washed away Thurman's would-be no-no on a leadoff single in the seventh by Michael Lorenzen.
The hit so inspired first-place Fullerton (43-8, 18-4 in conference) that the hosts, ranked No. 4 by Baseball America, rallied for five runs in the seventh on their way to a 5-2 triumph.
Thurman, who exited with two outs in the seventh after throwing 120 pitches, was charged with four runs He took the loss and is now 5-4.
Reliever Mitch Merten allowed two hits, including an RBI single by Carlos Lopez to cap a 14-pitch at-bat, and was charged with the final run.
Thurman, who entering the seventh had allowed just four hits and two earned runs in 18 1/3 career innings against Fullerton, struck out eight through six hitless innings Friday.
But having walked four and having been worked into long counts by many Titans hitters, Thurman had reached his limit too soon for UCI (31-18, 13-9), which fell into a tie for third place with the loss.
UCI seized the lead in the sixth off Fullerton freshman starter Thomas Eshelman, who wound up with the win to improve to 10-2.
With two outs in the sixth, Dominique Taylor singled to center for UCI. Connor Spencer then lifted a looper to left that bounced in front of a charging left fielder Anthony Hutting, who then deflected the ball into foul territory for an RBI double.
Taylor Sparks followed by rocketing a one-hop single past the third baseman and the UCI crowd sensed a continuation of a trend that had them post a 36-3 record since 2009 in Big West series openers coming in.
But the Fullerton rooters, who represented most of the 2,083 in attendance, had the last word.
Spencer and Taylor both went two for four to lead a seven-hit attack for the visitors, ranked No. 24 by USA Today/ESPN.
UCI has now lost five of the last seven, while Fullerton has won nine of its last 10. All five of the Titans hits came in the seventh inning.
Lorenzen recorded the final five outs for his 17th save of the season. The two teams resume the series Saturday at 6 p.m.
Big West Conference
Cal State Fullerton 5, UC Irvine 2
SCORE BY INNINGS
UCI 000 002 000 – 2 7 0
CSUF 000 000 50x – 5 5 1
Thurman, Merten (7), Litchfield (8) and Shaeffer; Eshelman, Peitzmeier (8), Lorenzen (8) and Wallach. W – Eshelman, 10-2. L – Thurman, 5-4. Sv – Lorenzen (17). 2B – Spencer (UCI), Wallach (CSUF) . 3B – Taylor (UCI).Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun