FULLERTON, Calif. - Grahamm Wiest and Matt Chapman starred under the bright lights at Goodwin Field Friday as the sophomore duo spearheaded Cal State Fullerton's 4-1 victory over Columbia on the opening night of regional play.
Tossing his first complete game of 2013, Wiest limited the Lions' offense to three hits and one run while retiring the final nine batters he faced. Chapman went 2-for-3 at the plate with two runs and two RBI, including a solo homer in the fourth.
It proved to be a team effort for the Titans as Chapman and Richy Pedroza provided highlight-reel defense on the left side of the infield and Michael Lorenzen turned in a two-hit performance on offense.
Ranked third nationally and making the program's 35th postseason appearance, the Titans will now take an eight-game win streak and a 49-8 overall record into an ESPNU-televised Saturday showdown against 24th-ranked Arizona State, a squad that defeated New Mexico in the first game of the Fullerton regional.
Facing the Ivy League champion Lions of Columbia on Friday, the Titans scored twice in their first turn at the plate as a timely hit and smart baserunning contributed to the fast start for the host squad. Columbia lefthanded starter David Speer hit the first batter he faced, Pedroza, who later took second with a stolen base.
Chapman came through with a key one-out hit, lining an 0-1 pitch through the middle of the infield to bring Pedroza around to score. Cal State Fullerton capped off its first-inning rally with J.D. Davis contributing a sacrifice fly to score Chapman, who barely beat a strong Jordan Serena throw to the plate.
In between a pair of fine defensive plays from Pedroza at shortstop in the second inning, the Lions got on the board when David Vandercook hammered a two-out, 2-2 pitch over the rightfield fence to cut the margin to 2-1.
Wiest went back to work after the solo shot though and settled in nicely. He retired the next seven batters and needed to toss just 18 pitches through that stretch.
For the visitors, Speer had also gotten into a groove as he faced the minimum in the second and third innings. Chapman broke the hit drought in a big way, leading off the bottom of the fourth with a homer to left that brought the Fullerton fans to their feet. "I had two strikes and was looking for a pitch out and over and told myself to stay short and look to hit the ball to the middle. He threw a cutter in and I pulled my hands inside and let the barrel do the work," said Chapman.
A pair of errors by Vandercook at third base extended the Titans' rally and with the bases loaded and one out, Jake Jefferies rolled a groundball to shortstop to score Davis and push the Fullerton lead to 4-1. Speer got out of the jam with another groundball out as Vanderbook bounced back from his earlier miscues to record a clean putout that ended the inning.
The Titans' attack awoke again in the bottom of the sixth, which started with a Davis double to left. Lorenzen, the team's homerun leader, then caught the Lions by surprise as he dropped a bunt single to put runners on the corners. Speer managed to escape unscathed as he induced a line drive double play and a groundball out to keep the margin at 4-1.
Columbia's seventh inning at the plate ended on one of the top defensive plays of the night as Pedroza showed his top-notch range, knocking down an Aaron Silbar grounder up the middle and throwing off one knee to first baseman Carlos Lopez for the putout.
As the Titans continued to put runners on base with ease in the seventh, the Lions sent in Kevin Roy to replace Speer. The freshman reliever got the final out of the inning on a two-out, 3-2 pitch that left all three Fullerton runners stranded. Speer's outing lasted 6.2 innings as he gave up five hits and three earned runs.
The three-run lead was more than enough for Wiest, who retired the final nine batters he faced to easily close out the complete-game performance.
In addition to the 8 p.m. game between Cal State Fullerton (home) and Arizona State (visitor), Saturday's schedule at Goodwin Field also features a 4 p.m. matchup between New Mexico (home) and Columbia (visitor).
Quotes from Head Coach Rick Vanderhook:
"Well played game defensively. I thought Matt made some good plays, I thought Richy did I thought Carlos did and I thought Grahamm threw strikes, that is what we pride ourselves on."
"We did what we do every week, every game and hopefully we can keep it going that way."
Quotes from starting pitcher Grahamm Wiest:
Notes: The Titans have now outscored their opponents 62-15 in the first inning…Fullerton is now 27-7 in the opening game of the NCAA Tournament dating back to 1975…the Titans are 34-3 when scoring first…Fullerton is 32-9 during Regional play at Goodwin Field dating back to 1999…Matt Chapman hit his fifth home run of the season, and the Titans are 5-0 when Chapman hits a round tripper…
Game One: Arizona State 4, New Mexico 3
Twenty-fourth ranked Arizona State defeated New Mexico, 4-3 in a back-and-forth battle to kick-off Regional play at Goodwin Field Saturday afternoon. James McDonald had three RBI for Arizona State including a two-run home run in the fourth that proved to be the game's deciding run.
Trevor Williams (6-6) earned the win for the No. 2 seeded Sun Devils going 7 and 2/3 innings allowing three runs on eight hits and striking out four while Josh Walker (11-1) suffered his first loss of the season for the No. 3 seeded Lobos. Errors plagued the New Mexico defense allowing Arizona State to capitalize, scoring four runs on just four hits.
On his performance Williams added, "You're always going on the mound thinking you're the best. You think you're Nolan Ryan out there, you can't go away from that. I not only had confidence in myself but also confidence in my team that we could go out there and win even if I give up three or four runs."
New Mexico wasted no time, plating a run in the first off Arizona State right-hander Williams to jump out to the early lead, 1-0. Chase Harris started the inning off with a single before advancing to second and coming around to score off an RBI single from Mitch Garver.
The Lobos lead was short-lived as the Sun Devils answered in the bottom half of the first to tie the game, 1-1. A failed pick-off attempt at first resulted in a New Mexico error, allowing Kasey Coffman to advance from first to third. McDonald later hit a sacrifice fly to left field to scoring Coffman.
Arizona State took the lead in the third, 2-1 when shortstop Jared Holley booted a ground ball allowing Coffman, who had reached on a two-out double, to come across for the Sun Devils.
The Lobos evened it up again in the fifth scoring one run off two singles and a sacrifice fly. Harris went first to third on a one-out single from Sam Haggerty before DJ Peterson lined out to right field allowing Harris to come in from third.
New Mexico's third error on the day allowed Arizona State to put a runner on in the bottom of the fifth for McDonald who belted a two-run home run over the right field fence to put the Sun Devils back on top, 4-2. "I went up there and the first pitch he threw me a slider outside and it was a ball. So I thought he was going to come with a fastball on the inner half and he gave me one. I just tried to bring the bat to the ball and it just happened," said McDonald.
Garver cut the Devils lead in the eighth inning after a solo shot to left field, which forced Williams out of the game, leaving two on for reliever Ryan Burr who struck out Alex Allbritton to end the inning. After defeating the Lobos head coach Tim Esmay commented on playing a great offense, "say a lot of prayers. That's a really good offensive team. We've played them now, I think, the last three years in a row and that's a team that's really grown into a really great offensive team. It was a battle."
With this victory, Arizona State advances to the winner's bracket to face off against the winner of the Fullerton and Columbia match up, while New Mexico will meet the loser of game two. The Lobos face elimination tomorow and head coach Ray Birmingham will stress to his team patience heading into Saturday.
"Hopefully they can calm down. It's another ballgame. It's 90 feet, I saw. I marked it off from homeplate to first base here, just like it is in Albuquerque, in Fresno, in San Diego and all those places we've played. They're emotional people and when you get emotional, you don't execute well."
Game three of the Fullerton regional will begin at 4 p.m at Goodwin Field, while game four will start at 8 p.m.