FULLERTON, Calif. — The Cal State Fullerton Titans stayed perfect on the season slugging their way to a doubleheader sweep of Nebraska Saturday at Goodwin Field. Fullerton (3-0) pounded out 24 hits in the pair of games.
The Titans took the first game 10-5 behind the sticks of J.D. Davis and Jared Deacon and walked away with the 9-0 victory in the second game, allowing only four hits in the game.
The Game Changer:
Through the first three games, Fullerton’s pitching staff has allowed runs in four frames. That, in and of itself, is impressive. Even more impressive is how the offense has responded each time it has happened. When USC hit a two-run homer Friday night, the Titans put up their own two spot in the bottom half of the inning.
In the first game Saturday, Nebraska scored a single run in the fourth inning; Michael Lorenzen took care of that one with a solo homer to right field. The Huskers tied the game 3-3 with a pair of runs in the sixth inning; Jared Deacon singled home a run with one of his three hits in the first game. In the next inning, the Cornhuskers got two runs against freshman reliever Kyle Murray to take a 5-4 lead; Matt Chapman scored to provide J.D. Davis with one of his five RBI on the day.
But to cap the seventh inning response, Anthony Hutting was summoned to pinch hit after Davis. Instead of a nice single or even a double in the gap, Hutting squared up what he said was a changeup and put it into the netting in right field for a two-run homer in his first at bat of the season. Now that’s answering your opposition.
Best Defensive Play: Sometimes things just go your way. In the third inning of Game 1, Nebraska designated hitter Michael Pritchard hit a high chopper to the right side of the pitcher’s mound. Grahamm Wiest came off the mound and tried to make the easy catch and flip to first. But Wiest hopped to snag the ball and it squirted out of his glove. He then tried to snare it at chest level in front of his body only to have it slip through his arms where it hit off his knee and ricochetted toward first base. Carlos Lopez made a smart play to come off the bag and grab the ball. Lopez quickly flicked his toe and tagged the bag just before Pritchard landed.
Best Pitch: Freshman Justin Garza packs a lot of punch in a tiny frame. The 5-foot-11, 160 pound right-hander can juice it up to 95-96 on occasion. On Saturday, he sat comfortably around 92-93, but it wasn’t his fastball that was baffling Nebraska hitters. It was his changeup. He kept the Huskers off-balance and spotted it up well, especially considering it was his first collegiate outing.
Senior Anthony Hutting talks about his pinch-hit two-run HR:
Fullerton head coach Rick Vanderhook talks about his team’s ability to answer after opponents score and how important it is for his young pitching staff to be able to get some early action:
Nebraska head coach Darin Erstad provides insight into what the Huskers aren’t doing right and what has to be corrected for them to improve as the season progresses:
- Chad Christensen – 3-for-8, R, 3B, 2 RBI
- Pat Kelly – 3-for-8, R, RBI, SB
- Justin Garza – 6 IP, 2 H, 0 ER, BB, 6 K
- J.D. Davis - 5-for-9, 3 R, 2B, 5 RBI
- Jared Deacon - 3-for-4, R, 2 RBI
- Chad Wallach - 2-for-4, 2B, 3 RBI
- Michael Lorenzen - 3-for-7, 5 R, HR, 2 RBI, 3 SB
The Bottom Line:
It is really, really early, but Cal State Fullerton looks like a team that could make an Omaha run. The Titans have had outstanding pitching from two freshman starters and they have a veteran lineup that is going to put runs on the board. The offense is striking out less than four times per game and the pitching staff has only issued two walks in three games. This could all easily change tomorrow…that’s the nature of early-season out-of-conference matchups. So far, so good though.
Fullerton looks primed for a strong year. Justin Garza looks like a future ace and Grahamm Wiest is going to battle and keep the Titans in every game he pitches. The offense has so much potential that the biggest question is going to be how coach Rick Vanderhook is going to be able to get everyone at bats to keep them crisp. There are six potential starters in the outfield and Lorenzen is the only one assured to be in the lineup every game.
Nebraska has to do the fundamentals correctly if it wants to win on the road against a top 25 team. The Huskers definitely didn’t do that today. They committed three errors and gave away outs on poor execution both offensively (bunt situations) and defensively (pitch out sequences). Chad Christensen and Pat Kelly look like legitimate All-Big Ten candidates with the stick, but it’s going to take more than just two hitters in the lineup.
Fullerton will travel to Cal State Bakersfield tomorrow and take on the 2-0 Roadrunners at 2 p.m. Sophomore Koby Gauna is slated to start for the Titans. Nebraska finishes its first Southern California trip of the season at USC tomorrow at 1 p.m. Both the Cornhuskers and the Trojans will be looking for their first win of the season.
Also check out the 20-shot photo gallery from the game.