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Titans Eliminated After Early Lead : College World : Fullerton doesn’t take advantage of its chances and loses to The Citadel, 8-7, in 12 innings.

TIMES STAFF WRITER

The Cal State Fullerton baseball team that swept through the NCAA Central regional at Austin, Tex., must have missed a connecting flight to Omaha.

The Titans were in Rosenblatt Stadium and on ESPN Monday, but they didn’t appear to be the same team. The Fullerton team that lost to The Citadel, 8-7, in 12 innings and made a quick exit from the College World Series bore little resemblance to the team that beat Texas twice on the Longhorns’ field to earn the trip to Omaha.

Gone was the consistent, effective pitching, the clutch hitting, the solid defense and the killer instinct that helped the Titans get ahead of their regional opponents and stay ahead of them.

Fullerton (36-23) spent much of Monday afternoon watching scoring opportunities pass them by, and the game and season ended with Mate Borgogno, the team’s leader in runs batted in, watching three consecutive fastballs from Hank Kraft hit the outside corner with the potential tying run on third base.

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When Borgogno was called out on strikes to end the game, it brought an end to 3 1/2 hours of frustration for the Titans.

The Bulldogs of Charleston, S.C., it seemed, did everything they could to give Fullerton the game. They committed seven errors to help Fullerton score three unearned runs.

But the Titans, who had 15 hits, failed to capitalize on many other opportunities and left 13 men on base.

“It’s better to be lucky than good,” The Citadel Coach Chal Port said. “That was true in this game.”

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After scoring twice in the third, the Titans had runners on first and second with one out and couldn’t score again. They had runners on first and second with none out in the fifth and didn’t score.

They had runners on first and second with one out in the ninth and failed to score. After scoring once to tie the score, 7-7, in the bottom of the 10th, Fullerton couldn’t score after loading the bases with one out.

Fullerton, which committed one error in four regional games, made a seventh-inning error that led to a run for The Citadel. And the Titans’ pitching broke down in the late innings, as starter Huck Flener and reliever Chris Robinson combined to allow seven runs in the last six innings, and Fullerton blew a 4-1 lead.

“We had so many opportunities to win the game, it wasn’t funny,” said Coach Larry Cochell of Fullerton, which lost to Oklahoma State, 14-4, in its series opener. “We just didn’t get the job done.”

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Bulldog shortstop Phillip Tobin was out with a dislocated shoulder and his replacement, Scott Elvington, made two errors, one in the third that paved the way for two Fullerton runs.

The Bulldogs (46-13) made two more errors in the sixth, including second baseman Dan McDonnell’s overthrow of first that allowed Kevin Farlow to score and give the Titans a 4-1 lead.

After The Citadel scored two runs in the seventh and three in the eighth to take a 6-4 lead, the Bulldogs gave Fullerton two more runs in the eighth.

With Paul Bunch on third and Dave Ayala on first, Ayala broke for second. Catcher Larry Hutto threw to second, but McDonnell forgot to cover the bag. The throw went into center field, allowing Bunch to score and Ayala to take third. Domingo Mota singled Ayala home to tie the score, 6-6.

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The Citadel went ahead, 7-6, on Tony Skole’s RBI single to right field, but the Titans came back in the bottom of the 10th to tie it.

Farlow, who had three hits, led off with a single, took second on Tom Manley’s sacrifice and reached third on Mota’s infield hit. Phil Nevin singled to score Farlow. Mota reached third ahead of Anthony Jenkins’ throw, and Nevin took second on the play.

Kraft replaced Gettys Glaze, who started the game at catcher, and walked Borgogno intentionally, struck out Matt Hattabaugh and got Charles to hit into a force play.

Jenkins, who had three hits and scored three runs, started the Bulldogs’ winning rally in the 12th by singling and advancing to second on a one-out wild pitch. Billy Baker, who had two hits and two RBIs, was walked intentionally but Skole lined a single to give The Citadel an 8-7 lead.

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Manley, a 10th-inning replacement for Fullerton, started the 12th with a bunt single but was forced at second on Mota’s attempted sacrifice. But Mota took second when Coker, who moved from first to shortstop in the seventh, threw the relay past first.

Mota took third on Nevin’s groundout but was stranded when Borgogno struck out.

Oklahoma State 7, Louisiana State 1--Freshman right-hander Brad Gore allowed only two hits in 7 1/3 innings and struck out six to lead the Cowboys past the Tigers in a winners bracket game.

Michael Daniel had two hits, including a three-run homer in the seventh, and Neil Szeryk and Bobby Carlsen each had two hits for Oklahoma State (55-16). Lyle Mouton homered for LSU (53-18).

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Oklahoma State and Georgia are the tournament’s only undefeated teams. Oklahoma State will play on Thursday against the winner of tonight’s LSU-The Citadel elimination game. The Cowboys need one victory to reach Saturday’s title game.


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