The opening game of the College World Series featured the Arkansas Razorbacks taking on the Cal-State Fullerton Titans. Arkansas entered the game with a 39-22 record while the Titans of Cal-State Fullerton had a 47-14 record. Arkansas started junior lefty Dallas Keuchel who had a 7-3 record with a 4.04 ERA in 16 starts. Cal-State Fullerton countered with freshman Noe Ramirez who is 9-1 with a 2.86 ERA in 19 appearances including 14 starts.
Noe Ramirez started the game off with a five pitch walk to Razorbacks Chase Leavitt. Ben Tschepikow followed with a sharp single to right field to set up runners on first and second with no outs. Scott Lyons then laid down a perfect sacrifice bunt to third baseman Joey Siddons to put two runners in scoring position with one out. Andy Wilkins then followed with a sacrifice fly to centerfielder Josh Fellhauer to score the first run of the game. Zack Cox then got a two out single to right field scoring Tschepikow from second base and giving the Razorbacks a 2-0 lead. Ramirez was able to get out of further damage by getting Bo Bigham to fly out to right field.
Cal-State Fullerton went down in the bottom of the first inning in order with Christian Colon and Gary Brown both grounding out to second base while Josh Fellhauer grounded out to third. After one inning of play, Arkansas led Cal-State Fullerton 2-0.
Both teams would get a runner on in the second inning, but neither team was able to bring a run across as the Razorbacks had a 2-0 lead. Ben Tschepikow led off the third inning with a single up the middle to get the Razorbacks started. Ramirez would send down the next two batters on a strikeout and a flyout to center to bring Zach Cox to the plate with two outs. He would take a Noe Ramirez pitch deep over the right field wall into the upper section of the bleachers to put the Razorbacks up 4-0. Ramirez would retire Bo Bigham on a groundball to third for the final out of the inning.
Joe Scott would led off the bottom of the third inning with a five pitch walk from Dallas Keuchel. Joey Siddons followed with a wicked groudball to second baseman Bo Bigham who made a diving stop to his left got up and threw out Scott going into second for the first out. The play was an absolute web gem and a must see tonight on Web Gems. Christian Colon would follow with a ringing single to left field to put runners on first and second with one out. The runners would move up a base on a perfectly executed double steal on a 1-0 count. Gary Brown would hit a sacrifice fly to right fielder Andrew Darr to score Siddons from third and Colon moved up to third base on the play. Josh Fellhauer would hit an absolute rocket on the ground to first baseman Andy Wilkins, the ball was blocked by Wilkins but he could not find it allowing Colon to score. Fellhauer would eventually get picked off first base to complete the inning. The score after three innings was 4-2 in favor of the Razorbacks.
Arkansas in the fourth would get runners on base as James McCann got a one out hit and Andrew Darr got a walk to follow. After a flyout to left by Chase Leavitt, Ben Tscheppikow would walk to load the bases. Fullerton head coach Dave Serrano would make the move to Tyler Pill to try to get out of the bases loaded jam. He would not as Scott Lyons would hit a ground ball through the shortstop hole to score McCann from third and Darr from second. Andy Wilkins would follow with a three run homer into the first row of seating to put the Razorbacks up 9-2. The Titans were able to get out of the inning without suffering any more damage in the inning.
The score would remain 9-2 until the bottom of the fifth inning when Cal-State Fullerton would put together three straight hits by Shevis Shima, Joe Scott, and Joey Siddons. Shima would score on Siddons hit through the right side to put runners on first and second with no outs. Christian Colon would lay down a sacrifice bunt to the pitcher to move the runners up. Gary Brown would bring home Joe Scott from third with a sacrifice fly to put the Titans down 9-4. Josh Fellhauer would end the inning by flying out to Brett Eibner in center.
Arkansas would lift starter Dallas Keuchel after the sixth inning in favor of RHP Mike Bolsinger. Keuchel went six innings allowing four runs (three earned) while allowing five hits and one walk and striking out only two batters. Keuchel kept the Titans off balance getting a ton of ground balls early on before the Titans were able to figure him out for a pair of runs in the third and fifth innings.
Arkansas would tack on another run in the eighth with three hits with Andy Wilkins getting the RBI single to put the Razorbacks up 10-4. Cal-State Fullerton would get a leadoff single by Christian Colon followed by a Gary Brown walk, and then Josh Fellhauer hit a single to right field to load up the bases for Jared Clark. Clark would strikeout out on a Mike Bolsinger fastball for the first out of the inning. Khris Davis would then hit a fielder’s choice which was deflected by Mike Bolsinger and grabbed by Ben Tschepikow who would miss the tag on Josh Fellhauer. By the time, he spun around and threw to second Fellhauder had reached the base allowing a run to score to put the Titans in the hole 10-5. Arkansas would get out of the inning on a Dustin Garneau double play ball to second base.
Arkansas would be held scoreless in the top of the ninth to give the Razorbacks a 10-5 lead heading into the bottom of the ninth. Mike Bolsigner would start the ninth off by striking out Shevis Shima to get the first out. Bo Bingham would get Joe Scott on a weak groundball for the second out of the inning. Joey Siddons would get a two out double over left fielder Chase Leavitt’s head to keep the inning alive. Christian Colon would follow with a single to right field to cut the Razorbacks lead to 10-6. Gary Brown would groundout to Mike Bolsinger for the final out of the game.
Dallas Kuechel picked up the win for the Razorbacks with his performance. He is now 8-3 while Noe Ramirez drops to 9-2.
Cal-State Fullerton Quotes/Thoughts
- Dave Serrano stated that Cal-State Fullerton “Didn’t play Titan Baseball” which is totally true as they really were dominated in this game as the final score was not indicative of how the game was played.
- He also rated Noe Ramirez’s start as a D- as stated in the press conference. We tend to agree with that assessment as Ramirez struggled from the get go allowing two first inning runs.
- Noe Ramirez stated after that game that he was too excited in this start and lost his mechanics which both Dave Serrano and Ramirez agree about.
- Serrano seemed extremely unhappy with the at-bats that his squad was taking today but not working the count deep and just not getting quality at-bats all around.
- Dave Van Horn stated in his post game press conference that he was proud of the squad’s play on Saturday afternnon. He said “They played like they have been here before” when in fact none of the players had been at the College World Series.
- Dave Van Horn was very happy with how Dallas Keuchel “peppered the zone” on the afternoon. He really did throughout the game which was good to see from the former CCBL All-Star.
- Andy Wilkins stated that the team worked on their bunting/fielding all week in preparation for the Titans style of play.
- Zach Cox said ” It is good to know our fans are behind him” which is in reference to the large contingent of Arkansas fans that made the trip up to Omaha.