FULLERTON, Calif. — Jason Monda is supposed to be one of the run producers in the middle of Washington State’s lineup after the senior led the team with 40 RBI last season. Against No. 1 Cal State Fullerton, Monda had started the season 0-for-8.
He was 0-for-5 Saturday when he came to the plate with two outs and the bases loaded in the 11th inning.
“That’s the thing about baseball. You just have to learn to be able to go at bat to at bat,” Monda said. “Going into my last at bat, I just tried to flush every at bat that I had before that.”
Monda fell behind in the count to Fullerton slider specialist Willie Kuhl and took an 0-2 slider on the outside that was close enough to rile up the home fans when it was called a ball. Monda battled and got another slider he “just tried to put the bat on.”
The left-handed hitting Monda sent the ball the other way, shooting it through the left side of the infield to score the go-ahead runs as Washington State (1-1) knocked off top-ranked Cal State Fullerton 9-7 in extra innings Saturday evening at Goodwin Field.
The Cougars nearly became another victim of a Titans’ comeback as Fullerton rallied from an early 7-3 deficit to tie the game in the eighth inning. The Titans loaded the bases with one out in the ninth inning, but Washington State freshman Ian Hamilton got a double play to escape the jam and send the game into extra innings.
Cal State Fullerton (1-1) took a 3-1 lead in the second inning with a rally started by a J.D. Davis triple — the first of two on the day.
Tanner Pinkston, who had three hits, drove him in with a chopper up the middle to tie the game. The Titans took a 3-1 lead on a Jared Deacon squeeze bunt and an RBI single by freshman Timmy Richards.
But some uncharacteristic sloppy play from Fullerton allowed Washington State to immediately respond. The Cougars scored three runs, taking advantage of two Justin Garza errors and a mishap by centerfielder Austin Diemer, who got turned around on a deep fly ball, slipped and fell to his knees.
Garza didn’t have his typically dominant stuff as he struggled with his command, falling behind early in the count repeatedly. As Fullerton pitchers are apt to do, Garza forced the veteran Cougar lineup to hit the ball rather than giving them free bases, but hit the ball, they did.
Washington State racked up nine hits, with the majority being well struck, against Garza in his 5.2 innings, including a pair of singles in the sixth inning. After a walk loaded the bases, Garza struck out a batter before turning the ball over to reliever Tyler Peitzmeier for a lefty-lefty matchup.
Collin Slaybaugh got the better of the battle, singling home two runs. Nick Tanielu followed with an RBI single to put the Cougars up 7-3.
The Titans got two runs back in the bottom of the sixth — one on a monstrous shot to left field by Davis, who finished the day 4-for-6 with 11 total bases, — and one in each of the next two innings to tie the game.
The Game Changer:
After Trek Stemp’s collided with the wall and the umpire ruled a no catch, Cal State Fullerton had the game-winning run on third base with one out. Tanner Pinkston worked a walk and Washington State decided to intentionally load the bases to create more double play opportunities.
Cougars freshman Ian Hamilton faced quite a predicament against the No. 1 team in the country in his first collegiate appearance. But the Vancouver, Wash. native was unfazed. He got ahead of Austin Diemer and got him to chase a pitch low and away. Diemer knubbed the ball back to the mound where a collected Hamilton fielded the ball cleanly and fired home to start a 1-2-3 double play.
Two innings later, he set down the heart of the Titans’ lineup in order to earn his first career win.
Best Defensive Play: Even though it wasn’t called a catch, Trek Stemp’s running catch in left-centerfield as he collided with the wall was still quite impressive.
As he did all day, J.D. Davis gave the pitch a ride, but Davis got under the ball just a bit, sending it on enough of a high-arching trajectory for Stemp to chase it down. Davis had previously tripled over Stemp’s head to deep right-centerfield and homered to left field, so Stemp was playing fairly straight up and had to go a long way.
The ball hit his glove just before he crashed into the wall and fell to the ground. During Stemp’s fall, the ball came out and landed squarely in his lap. But when he lifted the ball out of his lap with his hand, the umpire called it a no catch, which led to a long argument from Washington State head coach Donnie Marbut.
Even though it didn’t get recorded as an out, Stemp’s range and aggressive nature running into the wall earns him the That’s Filthy defensive play of the game.
Best Pitch/Pitcher: With Tanner Chleborad and Justin Garza starting on the mound and bringing low to mid 90s gas with hard-breaking off-speed stuff, you would expect one of the two to fill this spot, but that wasn’t the case Saturday. Both Chleborad and Garza were hit around a bit.
Instead, it was the impressive work done by Koby Gauna coming out of the Fullerton bullpen that was filthy. Gauna struck out seven batters in 4.2 innings before possibly running out of gas in his sixth inning on the mound.
The 6’3″, 225-pound senior entered with the bases loaded in the sixth inning and got a big strikeout to keep Fullerton within striking distance. He then slammed the door closed for the next five innings, allowing only one hit while racking up six more Ks.
Gauna mixed his fastball with a hard-breaking down-and-away slider that the Washington State hitters struggled to pick up out of his hand. Whenever he needed a big pitch, including after Yale Rosen’s one-out double in the ninth inning, Gauna went to the slider and got strikeouts and weak ground balls.
After the game, Washington State senior Jason Monda talked about his game-winning hit and how he was able to shake off an 0-for-5 start to the day.
Cal State Fullerton junior utility player J.D. Davis talks about how the Titans “shot themselves in the foot.”
“It’s a heartbreaker for us, knowing that we were 90 feet away from winning the game.”
Washington State head coach Donnie Marbut talks about his team’s experience and resiliency after the Cougars bounced back from being “beat up” Friday night. Marbut also talks about the unique ability of Jason Monda to play multiple positions and his ability on the mound.
- Nick Tanielu - 4-for-6, 2 R (including go-ahead run), 2B, RBI
- Yale Rosen – 3-for-4, R, 2 2B, 2 RBI, BB
- Ian Hamilton - 3 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 2 BB, Win
- Collin Slaybaugh - 3-for-6, R, 2 RBI
Cal State Fullerton
- J.D. Davis - 4-for-6, 3 R, 2 3B, HR, RBI
- Tanner Pinkston - 3-for-4, 2 R, RBI, BB
- Clay Williamson – 2-for-3, RBI