Long nights for Titans
The NCAA’s road to Omaha can sometimes mirror the life of a long-haul trucker.
It entails overnight work, black coffee and sleeping fast.
Cal State Fullerton toiled until 1:47 a.m. Sunday morning, splashed water on its face and hopped back on that long ribbon of baseball highway.
The Titans had enough in the tank Sunday night at Goodwin Field to jump on Pepperdine in another tournament game destined for a midnight finish.
Fullerton held a 8-0 lead through six innings as it pushed toward its 21st regional title and a spot in next weekend’s super regional.
The finalists on this weary weekend were survivors.
Pepperdine crawled back after Friday’s loss to Fullerton and nearly blowing it against Clemson. The Titans out-lasted Arizona State with a 14-inning win that ended with a train whistle.
The Titans on Sunday spotted freshman starter Connor Seabold an early 2-0 lead, scratching home a run in the second using two ground ball outs and anoth- er in the third when David Olmedo-Barrera singled home Josh Vargos from second.
Fullerton added four runs in the fourth inning that chased Pepperdine’s starter from the game.
The winner out of Fullerton advances to a best-ofthree super regional matchup next weekend at Louisville, against the Cardinals.
Fullerton swept Louisville in the 2009 super regional.
It was every arm up for Pepperdine’s staff.
Sunday night starter Chandler Blanchard pitched against Clemson on Saturday and earlier on Sunday, picking up the win, 7-4 against Arizona State, with two-thirds of an inning in relief.
Fullerton had to recover quickly after winning Saturday night’s game against Arizona State, 3-2, on a basesloaded, walk-off walk in the bottom of the 14th inning.
The game lasted five hours and 12 minutes and ended at near sunrise in the East.
The victory was big because it put Fullerton at 2-0 entering the Sunday night game instead of 1-1 in the 4 p.m. start. Arizona State had to burn six pitchers in the loss, including its usual No. 3 starter and closer Ryan Burr, who worked 41⁄3 innings and threw 74 pitches.
The Sun Devils, not surprisingly, had little left in Sunday’s turn-around loss to Pepperdine.
Fullerton used only two pitchers in 14 innings, ace Thomas Eshelman and reliever Tyler Peitzmeier.
Eshelman was brilliant through nine, striking out 14 with no walks, while Peitzmeier added five scoreless innings.
Some criticized Fullerton Coach Rick Vanderhook for starting John Gavin in Game 1 instead of Eshelman.
Vanderhook, though, said Game 2 is the most important game in the fourteam, double-elimination format.
“I threw Eshelman because this is the game you have to win,” Vanderhook said after Saturday’s game.
Pepperdine had enough punch to take out Arizona State but then had to turn around and play Fullerton.
The Titans, who lost starter Justin Garza to an elbow injury in early May, had to turn to Seabold for the potential regional clincher.