Cal State Fullerton is back in the College World Series.
Fullerton edged top-seeded Oklahoma State, a powerful host team, 6-5, in the 10th inning on Monday in the NCAA Midwest I regional final. Relief pitcher Rob Gaiko, facing his first batter, hit pinch hitter Robert Matos with the bases loaded, forcing in Jeff Ferguson with the winning run.
It gave the Titans their second World Series trip in three years. It was Fullerton’s eighth regional championships in 16 years. The Titans had to battle back with a victory earlier in the day over Memphis St., 12-5, after losing to Oklahoma State on Sunday.
“We talked a lot about the fact that we were going to have a lot of championship-level performances today, and I think all that happened,” Coach Augie Garrido said. “We overcame a lot of things in this game. . . . The kids put everything into it they had.”
The 10th inning rally began with one out when Ferguson walked, stole second and advanced to third when Oklahoma State reserve catcher Carl Grinstead overthrew second. Bret Hemphill and Tony Miranda were intentionally walked, bringing Matos to the plate as a pinch hitter.
The Titans (45-14) almost won the game in the bottom of the ninth. They went into the inning trailing, 5-4, but quickly got two runners on base when Sal Mancuso was safe on an error and Adam Millan singled. Two pinch runners, Miranda and Tony Fetchel, advanced on Jeremy Giambi’s sacrifice bunt. Jim Betzsold was called out on strikes before D.C. Olsen was walked intentionally. That brought Brian King to the plate and he delivered a hit into center, scoring Miranda. Fetchel, however, was thrown out trying to score on the play.
“I was really relaxed because when I went to the plate the umpire asked me if I was ready to hit, and I thought that was sort of funny,” King said. “I think it helped me.”
The Titans advanced to the championship game by defeating Memphis. Dante Powell went six for six with three runs scored, two runs batted in and three stolen bases. Powell’s effort included his ninth home run of the season.