June 5, 2009

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Renken Deals for Titans, Cards Fold

By Abbey Mastracco

Special to CollegeBaseballInsider.com


Abbey Mastracco is a former intern and has been a major contributor to CollegeBaseballInsider.com. A graduate of Long Beach State, Abbey is the former sports editor for Daily 49er and was the beat writer for the LBSU Dirtbags. She has also reported on UCLA Bruins Examiner and 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. - A year ago, Cal State Fullerton head coach Dave Serrano addressed the media looking dejected, after his Titans fell in just two games to Stanford at their own field, missing what is usually an annual trip to the College World Series.


“That’s why kids come to Cal State Fullerton, to go to Omaha,” Serrano said.


Fast-forward one year and the No. 3-ranked Titans (46-14) are once again looking every bit the part of the perennial contenders they’re known to be after Daniel Renken (11-2) tossed a three-hit shutout to lead CS Fullerton to a 12-0 win over No. 12 Louisville (47-17) to open the Fullerton Super Regional at a packed Goodwin Field. 


“He set the tone from strike one,” Serrano said.


Renken (pictured above) easily mowed through the Cards’ lineup to earn his first complete game shutout. Renken retired the side on just three pitches in the third and on strikeouts in the fifth, and had a streak of five straight strikeouts going through the fifth and sixth. The righty effectively mixed speeds, utilizing a nasty changeup and blowing his fastball past hitters, in what was an extremely impressive outing.


In 98 pitches, the aggressive Cards managed just three scattered hits off Renken, who walked only one. Renken allowed just one man to get past first base, held Louisville hitless through 5.1 innings and struck out a career-tying 10.


Dean Kiekhefer (6-5) was charged with the loss in just 4.1 innings of work.


“We weren’t here to run up his pitch count. We didn’t win 47 games by doing things like that,” Louisville head coach Dan McDonnell said. “We’re an aggressive club. We swing. Our motto is ‘hit the fastball’. We just didn’t hit it tonight.


“You’ve got to tip your hat to their guy, he did better than us tonight.”


The Cards’ aggressive approach at the plate was perfectly suited to Renken’s game.


“Coach Serrano said they were going to be aggressive and they were going to be swinging,” Renken said. “It really plays to me.”


CSF wasted no time establishing its presence, pulling out all the stops early. The Titans hit and run, played small ball and executed a double steal to go along with clutch hitting performances.


On the night, the Titans put up their 12 runs on 16 hits. Four Titan batters had multi-hit games.


“I thought we came out and did exactly what we wanted to do, which was put pressure on their defense,” Fullerton first baseman Jared Clark (right) said. Clark went 4 for 5, scoring twice and driving in four to lead the Titans. “Whether that be bunting, hit and run or whatever else, obviously we executed that very well.”


Pressure on the defense led to a severe lack of control by Cardinal pitchers. Beanballs were the most problematic, as three Louisville pitchers combined for six hit batters. The most damage came in the seventh, as reliever Neil Holland loaded the bases with two outs by hitting two and walking one.


The Cardinals looked to be out of the inning when shortstop John Dao put a stop to a sharp grounder by Jared Clark, but Dao threw wild to second base, allowing Clark to get all the way to third base on the error. Clark cleared the bases and plated three more, pushing the Fullerton lead to 12-0.


CS Fullerton needs a win in Saturday’s afternoon contest to advance to Omaha for the 16th time in school history. Game two will feature the Big East Player of the Year Justin Marks (10-2, 2.56 ERA) against the freshman All-American Noe Ramirez (8-1, 2.91 ERA).


(photos by Matt Brown, courtesy of Cal State Fullerton Media Relations Office)