Titans Stifle Cardinal To Win Stanford Regional For Second Straight Year
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Courtesy of Cal State Fullerton Athletics
Tanner Bibee was nothing short of heroic in his first ever postseason start and Ruben Cardenas launched a clutch three-run bomb in the fifth inning to propel the Titans the Stanford Regional Championship, Sunday evening at Sunken Diamond.
Fullerton (35-23) claims the Stanford Regional Championship for the second straight year, as it improves to a perfect 6-0 in its last six postseason games vs. in Palo Alto, including 4-0 against the Cardinal. The Titans now advance to their 14th Super Regional in program history, which is second most all-time behind Florida State (16).
The Titans have advanced to the Super Regional round in three of the past four seasons and four times under head coach Rick Vanderhook. Fullerton will take on the Washington Huskies in the Super Regionals.
Bibee (W, 3-5) went a stellar 6.2 innings, while surrendering just two runs on five scattered hits and a career-high 11 strikeouts. Eight of the 11 punch outs were looking.
Blake Workman closed out the contest, pitching 2.1 shutout innings, while surrendering just two hits and fanning four.
Hank LoForte extended his on base streak to 42 consecutive games, his hit streak to 19 straight contests, while collecting at least one knock in 30 of his last 31 ballgames. Ruben Cardenas launched his second homer of the season, going 1-for-4 with a run scored and three RBI.
Daniel Cope went 1-for-2 with an RBI, a run scored and a walk. Brett Borgogno went 1-for-2 with a run scored and a double. Jacob Pavletich came through with a big sacrifice fly.
For the fourth consecutive game, the Titans scored first. To no one's surprise, LoForte got things started, as he was plunked by a pitch to begin the game, making it the ninth consecutive game he's reached on his first at bat of the contest. Berryhill then walked to put runners at first and second. Cardenas then did his job, grounding out to shortstop to move the runners to second and third. Cope then lifted a deep fly ball to center, deep enough to score LoForte from third base on the sacrifice fly to put the Titans up 1-0.
Fullerton produced another run in the fourth without even recording a hit. Cope walked to lead off the frame and then advanced to second on a balk. Valenzuela grounded to shortstop to move Cope to third and this time it was Pavletich coming through with the big sacrifice fly to right field to bring in Cope and extend the Titan advantage to 2-0.
The Titans then opened up the game in the bottom of the fifth, as Borgono got things started with a one out walk, followed by another walk by LoForte. Then with two outs, Cardenas came through with the second clutch home run in as many days, launching a three-run rocket over the left field fence to extend the Fullerton advantage to 5-0.
Stanford got itself back in the ballgame in the top of the seventh, as it struck for two runs on three hits to make it just a 5-2 deficit.
However, that's as close as the Cardinal would get as Fullerton held on to win 5-2.