Fullerton Regional: Cal-State Fullerton vs Virginia

Fullerton 4 Virginia 1

Cal State Fullerton was looking to rebound in this game after a weak performance against UCLA. Their offense caught fire early against Virginia start Pat McAnaney, and that was all they needed as Titan starter Corey Arbiso only gave up one run, throwing a complete game.

The action got started in the second inning when Pat McAnaney showed some uncharacteristic control issues, handing out free passes to the 6-7-8-9 hitters, beaning Dustin Garneau and Joe Scott. After Gary Brown scored on the bean ball and Josh Fellhauer went down on strikes, Christian Colon came through provided the offense yet again with an RBI single to left. McAnaney got Erik Komatsu to flyout to right, ending the threat with the bases loaded.

The Titans padded their lead in the top half of the 3rd with consecutive doubles by Brian Wilson and Gary Brown, forcing starter Pat McAnaney out of the game. McAnaney lasted only 2.1 innings, giving up 3 ER and 3 hits, walking 3 and striking out 1. NCAA ERA leader Matt Packer, who has allowed only 2 earned runs over his previous 25 innings pitched, got the Cavaliers out of the inning.

Titan RF Erik Komatsu, who’s hasn’t been able to find the holes most of the series, bypassed the fielders altogether with a solo shot to right, his 8th of the season. The Cavaliers got two great assists from 3B Tyler Cannon, but a high throw to first from Cannon on a two-out chopper let Brown aboard. Brown then stole his third base of the day to get into scoring position, but Joel Weeks grounded out to shortstop to end the inning.

I thought coming into this game that Virginia would continue their great offensive performance from yesterday, but staring pitcher Cory Arbiso had other ideas. After Cavalier SS Greg Miclat started the Virginia offense off with a double, Arbiso dominated the Cavaliers for the first half of the game. He set down the next 15 batters in order until John Barr, who had a 4-hit performance against Rider yesterday, and Tyler Cannon lead of the inning with consecutive singles. Greg Miclat then bunted down the third baseline, Joel Weeks tried to make a play at first on a ball he should have let go foul, loading the bases for Virginia.

Things got interesting when the next batter, David Coleman, hit a grounder to first. Clark made the throw to Colon to get Miclat at first, and Colon failed to make the throw as Miclat slid into him. The slide looked clean in person and on the TV replay, but umpire Marc Lewis called runners interference on Miclat, ruling Coleman out at first. This prevented one run from scoring as Barr was sent back out to third base from the dugout and Cannon back to second. Brian O’Connor was absolutely irate about the call. The potential huge inning was ended with a David Adams popout to left.

After the game, coach Brian O’Connor wouldn’t comment on the call by the umpire, but did say that he was more upset at the fact that his hitter wasn’t selective enough at the plate than over the heavily disputed call.

The Cavs came back in the Bottom of the 7th with two singles by Farrell and Grovatt, and after a force out at third on a Gosselin bunt attempt, Franco Valdes came up with an RBI single to right to put the Cavaliers on the board for the first time in the game, putting Grovatt into scoring position. Valdes was forced out at second on a potential double play ball that was legged out by Barr, putting runners on the corners for Tyler Cannon. It wasn’t to be though as Cannon flew out to the first baseman to end the inning. Arbiso got away rather unscathed in the 6th and 7th innings, giving up only 1 run on 6 hits as the Cavs left 4 on base, much different than his first 5 innings when he only allowed 1 aboard.

Arbiso came back out for the 8th still relying on that 4-1 lead, when with 1 out David Coleman got on base with a double. This game was all about missed opportunities for the Cavaliers, as Arbiso sent the next to batters down on strikes, frustrating the Cavaliers for a third straight inning. He came back out for the 9th inning to a raucous applause from the 1,699 in attendance, getting Dan Grovatt to pop out to left for the first out of the inning. DH Phil Gosselin then lined what seemed to be a possible extra basehit above the head of 3B Joel Weeks, but he jumped to make the catch which sent the Titan fans to their feet. Arbiso completed the game by ringing up frequent strikeout victim Franco Valdes for the final out.

To Virginia’s credit, Matt Packer was absolutely dominant in relief, only giving up 2 hits in 6 2/3 of relief, one of those being the Erik Komatsu homerun. He seemed to get better as the game went along, and will headline the 2009 Virginia pitching staff.

Brian O’Connor had nothing but praise for both Cal State Fullerton and UCLA:

“I think UCLA is one of the most athletic teams in the country, and Cal State Fullerton can play the game of baseball. The consistency that they have in their program of winning championships is what we are trying to work towards everyday. It doesn’t happen overnight, and it didn’t happen overnight for Cal State Fullerton, it happened because they continued to be persistent and grind it out and make it to regionals and play the right way. It wouldn’t shock me at all if one of these teams made it to Omaha, and I hope one of them does.”

Cal State Fullerton didn’t play any better than they did in last night’s game offensively, but getting a complete game effort from Arbiso as well as a rock solid defensive effort to prevent runners from scoring got Cal State Fullerton to the Regional final.

Brian O’Connor Post Game Press Conference (Audio)