June 8, 2008

2008 Super Regionals

Stanford Heading Back to Omaha

Castro's three-run double snaps 5-5 tie in sixth


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 and Chargers.


FULLERTON, Calif. - If your money was on Big Brown Saturday afternoon, the outcome of the Belmont Stakes was probably the opposite of what you were expecting.


And if your money was on national No. 5 seed Cal State Fullerton as well Saturday afternoon, the 8-5 Stanford upset victory was probably the opposite of what you were expecting.


The Titans (41-22) failed to make what seems like their annual trip to Omaha. Stanford (39-22-2) became the first team to punch its ticket as Joel Weeks grounded into a 6-4-3 double play just as the sun went down Saturday night at Goodwin Field.


“It’s one of those things you dream about,” said Stanford closer Drew Storen. Storen notched back-to-back saves to lead the Cardinal to a Super Regional victory.


The Cardinal will return to Nebraska next week after a five-year drought, and its win over perennial powerhouse Fullerton has them more prepared than ever.


“Obviously, we’re thrilled,” said head coach Mark Marquess. “Great game and a great effort. Cal State Fullerton is a great team with a rich tradition. That’s why we like to play them every year.”


After the Titans had come back to tie the game at 5-5 in the top of the sixth, the Cardinal mounted a three-run comeback effort spurred by Jason Castro’s bases-clearing double in the bottom of the inning.


Castro led the game finishing 3 for 4 with a run and four RBI. Colin Walsh, a last minute replacement for Cord Phelps, who fell ill the night before, went 2 for 4 with a walk, driving in one and scoring three times. Joey August went 2 for 5 with a run and a pair of RBI.


For the Titans, Erik Komatsu finished 3 for 3 with a walk, a run and an RBI and Josh Fellhauer finished 2 for 5, scoring once and driving in two.


Jason Dovel (3-4) took the loss for the Titans, as he gave up the three runs in the all-important sixth. Austin Yount (6-3) earned the win in 5.1 innings of relief. Yount allowed just two runs (one earned) on seven hits, walking one and striking out three. Storen’s save was his eighth on the season.


In the top of the sixth, Komatsu lined a double down the right field line to drive in Josh Fellhauer and tie the game with just one out. Yount then intentionally walked Jared Clark to load the bases. But a line drive to Brent Milleville at first base allowed for an unassisted double play to end the inning and eliminate further threat.


But with just one out in the bottom of the inning, the Cardinal rallied back. Dovel gave up three straight singles to load the bases with Castro at the plate.


“I wanted to see a good pitch that I could drive,” Castro said.


The result was a double into the right field gap that allowed Castro to advance on the throw. Castro drove in Zach Jones, Jake Schlander and Colin Walsh to put the Cardinal up 8-5 over the Titans with just nine outs left.


“He kind of left one over the plate a little bit,” Castro said. “They had a shift they had been playing on us all weekend so I just tried to drive the ball down the line.”


“Castro is a great player,” said Fullerton head coach Dave Serrano. “He was in the right situation and that’s what superstars do. He drove in all three runs and that was the difference in the baseball game.”


With the all important momentum now firmly on Stanford’s side, Yount was able to limit the Titans to just two hits in the next inning and a third and Storen wasted no time putting down three of the four Titans he faced in relief for the save.


“Momentum is a huge thing in a Super Regional,” Fellhauer said.


For Serrano, the loss meant something more to him and his Titans than most teams could ever comprehend.


“That’s why kids come to Cal State Fullerton - to go to Omaha,” Serrano said. “I’m disappointed. That would be the biggest thing.”