Cal State Fullerton couldn’t get the winning hit in pressure situations, stranding 10 potential runs on the basepaths after the sixth inning against Arizona State. So it was only fitting that the Titans won, 3-2, on a bases-loaded walk in the 14th inning shortly before 2 a.m. Sunday.
With the bases full, Jerrod Bravo watched four pitches go wide of the strike zone and Fullerton (36-22) escaped with the tightly contested victory to move to the Fullerton Regional final scheduled for 8 p.m. Sunday.
Fullerton ace Thomas Eshelman threw a career-high 143 pitches (103 strikes) and tied a career high with 14 strikeouts. He pitched nine innings, giving up two runs on seven hits. Arizona State (35-22) scored a run in the first two innings before Eshelman settled into a groove.
Johnny Sewald led off the game with a base hit down the left-field line and scooted around to second, diving in ahead of the throw. Johnny Hustle then took third on a ball in the dirt and scored when the throw to third went wide.
Arizona State’s lead doubled in the second inning when Andrew Snow ambushed an Eshelman fastball, driving the pitch over the left field wall for a solo home run.
Fullerton got a run back in the second inning and tied the game on a David Olmedo-Barrera RBI single in the sixth inning. It was a drastic change of momentum after Arizona State had a great opportunity to break the game open in the top of the sixth.
The Sun Devils put runners on the corners with no outs, but Eshelman proceeded to strike out the side to eliminate the threat
Fullerton closer Tyler Peitzmeier pitched the final five innings to pick up the win. He gave up just three hits and tied a career high with six strikeouts.
The Titans will play the winner of Sunday’s elimination game between Pepperdine and Arizona State, which is scheduled to start at 4 p.m.