June 7, 2008
Stanford gets by Cal State
Bleich pitches six strong innings for
By Abbey Mastracco
Abbey Mastracco is an intern and a major
contributor to CollegeBaseballInsider.com this season. A senior
at Long Beach State, Abbey is the sports editor for Daily 49er
and was the beat writer for the LBSU Dirtbags. She has also
reported on PGA events around the country. Abbey is a huge
Sacramento Kings fan and likes the Giants, A's, Padres, 49ers
FULLERTON, Calif. - It wasn’t exactly the start
that heavily-favored, nationally-ranked Cal State Fullerton
Jeff Kaplan, the Titans’ leading arm who was
coming off a regional-winning save against UCLA last weekend,
struck out Stanford leadoff man Cord Phelps to start the first
game of the Fullerton Super Regional Friday night. The sellout
crowd that included actor and CSF alumni Kevin Costner at
Goodwin Field went wild.
But their applause was quickly quieted, because
before they knew it the first run of the game was scored. And it
was not a Titan crossing the plate.
And before they knew it, they were down to their
last out. With Corey Jones at the plate and the count full,
Jones dropped a ball perfectly into the glove of Sean Ratliff in
center field, giving the Cardinal a 4-3 win.
Stanford (38-22-2) head coach Mark Marquess,
acknowledging the rich tradition of baseball at CS Fullerton
(41-21), said the outcome of the game was just as good as the
atmosphere. For his team, that is.
“It was a great college game, a great atmosphere
and a great crowd,” Marquess said.
For Marquess, it was his starting pitcher, Jeremy
Bleich, who was the hero of the game.
“We got a fabulous pitching performance from
Jeremy Bleich,” Marquess said. “He gave us six strong innings.
Just a phenomenal performance.”
Bleich (3-2) had little trouble with the Titans,
giving up just one unearned run, allowing only three hits and
striking out five. Bleich walked just two in his six-inning win.
However, Fullerton hitters were less than
thrilled with Bliech’s performance, and their own as well.
“He’s a pretty good pitcher overall,” said
Fullerton right fielder Erik Komatsu. “He’s coming off of an
injury. But he threw a lot of fastballs I thought our team could
have hammered. But we didn’t hit enough balls on the ground. Too
many fly outs, too many easy outs.”
“We didn’t put the ball on the ground,” said
Fullerton head coach Dave Serrano. “It’s the little things you
have got to do.”
Kaplan (11-3), as well, failed to execute the
little things for the Titans, as he quickly went downhill after
striking out Phelps, which was one of only three of Kaplan’s
Joey August (2 for 2 with two runs) was walked
after Phelps’ strikeout. Kaplan looked to be out of it after
getting Jason Castro to ground out. But the groundout had
advanced August, allowing him to easily score from second when
Brent Milleville looped a ball into the left field gap.
The damage had yet to be done. Kaplan struggled
through the next five innings, giving up seven more hits,
including two home runs. One was a nearly 400-foot, two-run jack
by Castro (2 for 4, one run and two RBI) and one was a solo
leadoff shot by Ratliff (1 for 2, one run, one RBI, two walks)
that killed what looked to have been the start of a Fullerton
rally, giving the Cardinal a 4-1 lead.
“The home runs were off decent pitches,” Kaplan
said. “They put pretty good swings on them. Both were down.”
Kaplan’s home run pitches may have been down, but
Kaplan admittedly left several up throughout the game as well.
In 6.2 innings, Kaplan allowed four earned on eight hits,
walking three and striking out three.
“I wasn’t down enough the whole game. I left too
many balls up,”
The Titans did threaten the Cardinal’s lead and
put up a good fight in the process. Komatsu’s two-run homer in
the eighth put them within one run of tying, and a Gary Brown
leadoff single in the ninth brought Goodwin Field to its feet.
With two outs and Brown on second after a sac bunt, Jones
battled Drew Storen, working the count full, but just got
underneath a fastball, giving Storen the save, his seventh, and
the Cardinal the win.
“It was a tough loss,” Serrano said. “We battled
but came up a little short. But our backs are against the wall
and that’s usually when we do our best.”
Stanford now stands just one game away from the
College World Series. The two teams continue the best-of-three
Super Regional series Saturday afternoon at 4:30 p.m. PST at
Goodwin Field. The game will be broadcast live on ESPN.