June 6, 2009

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Titans Going 'Home' to Omaha

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. – As the Goodwin Field crowd chanted “Omaha,” the Cal State Fullerton Titans, in all their mustached glory dogpiled in the infield. On the other side of the diamond, the Louisville Cardinals hung their red mohawked heads dejectedly.
In the battle between the mustaches and the mohawks, once again the mustaches prevailed.
Cal State Fullerton (47-14) punched its ticket to Omaha with an 11-2 downing of No. 12 Louisville (47-18) to sweep the Fullerton Super Regional Saturday afternoon. The Titans advance to the College World Series for the 16th time in school history.
“Omaha is the greatest place in the world to finish off a season,” Titans coach Dave Serrano (left) said. “About a month and a half ago, the team was questioning their commitment, but we came together. We think we have a legitimate chance to win the national championship the way we’re playing right now.”
It was an emotional moment as the team gathered in the outfield after the game.


Former Titan Jon Wilhite walked onto the field to celebrate with his former team. The four-year catcher had been recovering from an internal decapitation surgery after being hit by a drunk driver back in April in the same tragic accident that killed Angels’ pitcher Nick Adenhart and two others.
Wilhite, walking with a noticeable limp, was able to walk, no less. The fact that he not only survived such a traumatic injury, but also is recovering so quickly is being considered a medical miracle.
“Even more of a climax for me was that Jon Wilhite was here today,” Serrano said. “He’s one of our warriors who is fighting for normalcy again and his presence here made the day complete for me.”
The Titans once again dominated the Cards, posting 11 runs on 12 hits. The two line scores looked as if Fullerton was playing a little league opponent, not a Big East powerhouse. Fullerton outscored the Louisville 23-2, out-hit it 28-6 and stole nine bases over two games, with six on Saturday.
“They’re hot right now, and we just ran into a buzz saw,” Louisville head coach Dan McConnell said.
Right-hander Noe Ramirez (9-1) nearly followed up Daniel Renken’s complete-game shutout with a complete game of his own, going eight innings and giving up just two runs on three hits and fanning a career-high 10.
Chris Dominguez (left) scored the only two Cardinals runs, both on solo homers.
“I just decided this might be my last game, so I went at the ball,” Dominguez said.
Louisville ace Justin Marks (11-3) was saved until Saturday’s do-or-die contest. But his start didn’t exactly live up to expectations as the Big East Pitcher of the Year lasted just 4.1 innings, giving up six earned on seven hits, walking three, hitting two and balking once.
“It’s hard to gather yourself with so much pressure on the bases,” Marks said. “I just couldn’t get much done with them today.”
“We were going to pressure them,” Fullerton second baseman Joe Scott said. “We knew they would have trouble adjusting to our game.”
Marks’ troubles were evident from the start, when he hit leadoff man Christian Colon (right) to start the game, balked Colon to second and fell over trying to field a sacrifice bunt.
From there, Fullerton picked up where it left off the night before, pouring on the hits, manufacturing runs and swiping bases.
“I was very impressed with [Fullerton’s] balance in their lineup,” McConnell said. “I don’t know if you can just run your way to a national championship, you have to have balance.”
This trip to the College World Series will be the Titans’ fourth in six seasons, with their last championship in 2004. It’s a familiar spot for many, as the Fullerton roster is laden with fourth-year seniors anxious to return to Rosenblatt Stadium and resume their status as fan favorites.
“The way we’re going right now is pretty special,” Scott said. “This is my third time to Omaha, so it feels like home to me.”
First up for the Titans in the CWS will be Arkansas, the winner of the Tallahassee Regional. Fullerton, which is now 7-2 in Super Regional play, will head to Omaha riding a nine-game winning streak.


(photo of Dominguez courtesy of Louisville Media Relations Office)

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