Ore­gon State ral­lies to de­feat Fuller­ton

The Beavers fight back from a 5-1 deficit in the opener of the Col­lege World Se­ries.

Los Angeles Times - - INSIDE BASEBALL - ORE­GON STATE 6 CS FULLER­TON 5 By Zach Helfand zach.helfand@la­times.com Twit­ter: @zhelfand Helfand re­ported from Los An­ge­les.

Ore­gon State had lost only four games this col­lege base­ball sea­son, en­ter­ing the first game of the dou­ble-elim­i­na­tion Col­lege World Se­ries in Omaha with a 54-4 mark.

It is a record of his­toric pro­por­tions, and it raises a sim­ple ques­tion: How? On Satur­day, Cal State Fuller­ton re­ceived a les­son.

The Titans for a few, giddy in­nings, led 5-1. They lost 6-5.

Ore­gon State be­gan wrest­ing back con­trol in the bot­tom of the sixth in­ning. It be­gan with No. 3 hit­ter KJ Har­ri­son. He put the game in a stran­gle­hold in one breath­tak­ing, seven-minute at-bat when Fuller­ton led by three runs.

The ac­tion be­gan with a 2-2 count.

Right-han­der Colton East­man threw a fast­ball. Har­ri­son fouled it back. Off­speed, yanked foul. Breaking ball, bounced foul. Fast­ball, fouled back. Curve­ball, fouled back. Fast­ball, fouled back.

Har­ri­son fought off ev­ery­thing East­man had. Three min­utes had elapsed. The count was un­changed. Har­ri­son chomped on green chew­ing gum. East­man squinted his eyes. A fast­ball went wide — a full count.

Off-speed, fouled back. Then, fi­nally, a ball high and away. Har­ri­son walked.

It hadn’t even scored a run, merely loaded the bases, but the game had no­tice­ably shifted.

It was East­man’s fourth walk in the in­ning. He ex­ited. The Beavers sin­gled twice off Titans right-han­der Blake Work­man, and the score was tied.

Two in­nings later, the eighth, with a two-out sin­gle, hit bats­man and a run-scor­ing sin­gle by Ad­ley Rutschman against Work­man, the game was won.

“We never caught our breath,” Fuller­ton coach Rick Van­der­hook said after the Titans’ eighth con­sec­u­tive loss at Omaha.

Fuller­ton had tasted sun­shine against Ore­gon State, but only for a mo­ment.

That is more than most teams are af­forded. No team, ever, has dom­i­nated col­lege base­ball as Ore­gon State has this sea­son. The Beavers own the best win­ning per­cent­age in Divi­sion I his­tory. They have won 22 games in a row, which isn’t even their best streak this sea­son. They had one of 23 ear­lier in the year.

But Fuller­ton shocked them in the first in­ning. With two run­ners on, Timmy Richards tagged a ball to­ward the out­field, paus­ing abruptly be­fore first base as the base­ball be­gan its fi­nal de­scent some­where near the left-cen­ter­field fence.

The run­ner ahead of him had held back to make sure it wasn’t caught. Richards wouldn’t risk catch­ing him.

This is Cal State Fuller­ton and fun­da­men­tals must al­ways be minded, even on home-run balls. Richards re­sumed his trot only when the ball landed in the out­field seats.

“I don’t think I could have taken a bet­ter swing to that ball,” he said.

The Titans’ brand of hard­charg­ing, sound base­ball, plus the mod­icum of power pro­vided by Richards, had made Ore­gon State jit­tery early.

By the fourth in­ning, the ESPN broad­cast re­ported that the Beavers were con­cerned that Fuller­ton (39-23) was read­ing All-Amer­i­can right-han­der Jake Thompson’s grip, in­ter­cept­ing his pitches. Later that in­ning, Chris Hud­gins tagged a pitch that needed no ad­vance warn­ing, a hang­ing curve­ball, for a two-run sin­gle.

Thompson is the na­tion’s win­ningest pitcher, at 14-0, but he sur­ren­dered five runs in 32⁄3 in­nings.

Fuller­ton right-han­der Con­nor Se­abold held Ore­gon State to just one run, but he nib­bled around the plate and had to re­tire after five in­nings and 97 pitches.

East­man, who had been a hero in the su­per re­gional against Long Beach State that sent Fuller­ton to the Col­lege World Se­ries, la­bored. In the dugout after the sixth in­ning, he sat with his head down.

“They’re re­ally good. And I’m stupid,” Van­der­hook said. “I out­thought my­self. East­man was on a nor­mal rest. We had a healthy lead. At that point, I fig­ured let’s turn it over to the best guy, and def­i­nitely out­thought my­self. Prob­a­bly would do it dif­fer­ent again. And I let them get back in the game, and you don’t do that to good teams.”

By the eighth in­ning, Har­ri­son stepped to the plate again. He caught a pitch on the bar­rel. Cen­ter fielder Scott Hurst plucked the ball right be­low the yel­low line atop the fence, sav­ing a long dou­ble.

It was the sec­ond out. But Ore­gon State was not done.

“That’s why they’ve only lost four games,” Van­der­hook said.

Ryan Soderlin As­so­ci­ated Press

FULLER­TON’S Sahid Valen­zuela and Scott Hurst col­lide as Hurst catches a ball against Ore­gon State.

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