LONG BEACH, Calif. — Cal State Fullerton freshman Thomas Eshelman needed only 62 pitches to get through seven innings as he shut down rival Long Beach State in a 5-0 non-conference win Friday night at Blair Field.
Michael Lorenzen provided the offense, knocking a solo home run in the second inning to put Fullerton ahead (for good since Eshelman and reliever JD Davis only allowed two Long Beach baserunners). Lorenzen also doubled deep to left-centerfield.
Carlos Lopez brought in a run in the third inning with an RBI single over the shortstop’s head. Chad Wallach made it 3-0 after he scored on an error in the seventh and the Titans blew open the game with three runs in the eighth inning. Keegan Dale got an RBI with a bases loaded walk and Austin Diemer completed the scoring with a two-run single.
But Eshelman was the story as he pitched seven innings, allowing only one baserunner on a low-lining flare by Eric Hutting, younger brother to Fullerton’s Anthony. Eshelman picked up the win to improve to 5-1 while JD Davis had two strong innings out of the bullpen (see That’s Filthy section).
Shane Carle (1-3) took the loss for Long Beach State despite pitching into the seventh inning and only allowing three runs on three hits.
The Game Changer:
After Thomas Eshelman mowed through Long Beach State in the first inning with only four pitches, Michael Lorenzen came to the plate with one out in the second inning and hit a 2-2 pitch over the left field wall for a solo home run.
Long Beach State starter Shane Carle had cruised through the first inning, using a sharp breaking ball to strike out two, but Lorenzen said he was looking for the pitch. And when Carle made a mistake, hanging it in Lorenzen’s wheelhouse, he punished the pitch and even the spacious Blair Field couldn’t hold it in.
Lorenzen later flirted with home runs against Carle twice more. He hit one a few feet foul off the left field wall in his second at bat, before flying out. Then in his third at bat, he jumped on a fastball and hit it deep into the dark abyss that is left-centerfield. The ball bounced off the base of the wall for a standup double.
But it was Lorenzen’s homer that set the tone in combination with Eshelman’s quick work on the mound. And since Eshelman wasn’t going to give up any runs (and barely any hits), a solo home run was the Game Changer.
Best Defensive Play: The Dirtbags veteran middle infield struggled Friday night. Michael Hill committed his 10th & 11th errors of the season, and Jeff McNeil also took an ‘E’ — all three errors coming on in between hops that were misplayed. But McNeil also had the nicest defensive play of the game on a Chad Wallach chopper in the fourth inning.
Wallach reached for an off-speed pitch and bounced it over the head of Shane Carle. McNeil raced over toward second base, fielded a short hop and threw across his body to nail Wallach.
Best Pitch/Pitcher: Fullerton head coach Rick Vanderhook has admitted previously this season that he is still trying to figure out how best to use two-way player JD Davis as a pitcher. All Vanderhook knows is that he’s got to get Davis in there. The right-handed sophomore showed why he is such a valuable arm for the Titans on Friday night.
After a long eighth inning spelled the end of Thomas Eshelman’s tremendous start, Davis came in pumping a low 90s fastball and breaking off a sharp-biting curveball that he spotted up on the outside corner multiple times. The Dirtbags struggled to swing at it, much less hit it hard. Eshelman was great for seven innings and is definitely should be mentioned in this category, but Davis was quite impressive in his two innings of one-hit, two-strikeout work.
Cal State Fullerton starting pitcher Thomas Eshelman after throwing 62 pitches in seven innings and allowing only one hit at Long Beach State.:
Titans head coach Rick Vanderhook talks about beating Long Beach State, strike-throwing maching Thomas Eshelman and the production of Austin Diemer at the bottom of the lineup:
Long Beach State head coach Troy Buckley talks about the job Thomas Eshelman did for Fullerton and what the Dirtbag hitters need to do better:
Preseason All-American Michael Lorenzen talks about playing in the spacious Blair Field and beating rival Long Beach:
Cal State Fullerton
- Thomas Eshelman – 7 IP, H, 0 R, 0 BB
- Michael Lorenzen – 2-for-4, R, 2B, HR, RBI
- Austin Diemer - 2-for-4, R, 2 RBI
- J.D. Davis - 2 IP, H, 0 R, 0 BB, 2 K
Long Beach State
- Eric Hutting – 1-for-3
- Colton Vaughn – 1-for-1
- Eddie Magallon - IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB
The Bottom Line:
Thomas Eshelman continues to establish himself as one of the preeminent freshman pitchers in the country. He doesn’t necessarily have the wow factor stuff that fellow frosh Justin Garza provides on Saturdays, but Eshelman is the definition of a pitcher. Working off his fastball, Eshelman spots the ball where he wants starting with his fastball and then mixing in his off-speed pitch only when necessary.
It isn’t about how hard you throw it, but where you put it and Eshleman can put it where he wants. That’s why he still has yet to issue a base on balls in his 42 collegiate innings. Long Beach State opted for an aggressive approach and Eshelman fed right into that approach, attacking early and often in the count with fastballs.
This was a complete win for Fullerton, which was coming off a horrendously played win against Nebraska in a mid-week contest. The Titans have now won eight straight and at 19-3 are off to their second best start in school history.
The Dirtbags, on the other hand, just have to tip their collective cap to the performance of Eshelman and try to come back out and even the series on Saturday. Once again, Shane Carle gave his team an opportunity to win, but once again, got no run support. The Dirtbags have now scored 13 runs total in the six games Carle has started. That’s not much room for error for a starting pitcher, even though Carle has yet to give up more than three earned runs this season.
Also check out the 16-shot photo gallery from Friday’s series opener.