LONG BEACH, Calif. - Freshman Colton Eastman set a new career high as he tossed eight and 1/3 dominant innings and right-hander Blake Quinn notched his first career save to lead No. 23 Cal State Fullerton past No. 22 Long Beach State, 2-1, Saturday afternoon at Blair Field.
Eastman was magnificent for the Titans (35-21, 17-7) as he allowed just one earned run and scattered four hits. He struck out nine and did not issue a walk on the day as he stymied the Dirtbags (36-20, 15-9) offense throughout the day. Eastman did not allow a base runner to reach second base through the first six innings, facing one over the minimum in the process.
Quinn relieved Eastman with one out in the ninth and the tying run on base after Jarren Duran singled to lead off the Dirtbags ninth. The second baseman advanced on a sacrifice bunt, putting the tying run in scoring position against Eastman, leading the Titans to summon Quinn from the bullpen.
The red-shirt junior struck out shortstop Garrett Hampson and then got Luke Rasmussen to groundout to second base to end the inning and give the Titans the victory.
Fullerton finishes the season with sole possession of the Big West Conference championship, winning the conference by two games over the Dirtbags. The win also locked up the automatic berth into the NCAA Tournament, marking the 38th time the Titans have made the postseason and 25 straight season.
The Titans will now await their destination in the NCAA Tournament as the 16 host sites will be announced Sunday while the rest of the tournament field will be announced Monday morning at 9 a.m. on ESPNU. The Titans will have a viewing party Monday morning at BIGS Fullerton located one mile from campus beginning at 8:30 a.m.
Josh Vargas led the Titans offensively on Saturday, going 2-for-2 with a run scored. He drove in the game-winning run in the fifth on a sacrifice fly, his fifth game-winning RBI of the season. Dalton Blaser was also 2-for-4 with an RBI.
The Titans took a 1-0 lead from the jump as Vargas led off the game with a double to right off Dirtbags starter Tanner Brown. He moved to third on a sacrifice and came in to score on an RBI groundout by Blaser.
It was 2-0 Titans in the fifth after Chris Hudgins led off with a single off Brown, putting an end to his day on the mound. Reliever Ty Provencher came in and gave up a single to Jake Pavletich and then Hank LoForte sacrificed the runners over. Vargas then lifted a sacrifice fly to left to score Hudgins and give Fullerton a two-run lead.
In the seventh, the Dirtbags got on the board as Zach Domingues led off with a single. He was erased on a fielder's choice groundout by Garrett Hampson. The Dirtbags shortstop would steal second and then came in to score on an RBI single by Brock Lundquist, cutting the Fullerton lead in half, 2-1, but they would not score again in the game.
Notes: The Titans have won back-to-back conference titles and six of the last seven Big West Championships. In the 2000s, Fullerton has won 12 of 17 Big West Conference titles… Head coach Rick Vanderhook claimed his fourth conference title in five seasons as head coach and has a 90-33 record in conference play… Overall, Cal State Fullerton has posted a dominant 745-261-1 conference record over 42 seasons and a 569-215-1 (34 years) PCAA/Big West Conference record… Fullerton scored in the first inning and has outscored opponents 36-13 in the opening frame. It was also the 23rd time the Titans scored in the first and they hold a 19-4 record going into the postseason… Saturday was the 20th one-run game of the season for the Titans and they are now 8-12… Assistant coach Chad Baum coached in his 1,000th career game Saturday. He holds a 601-399 record in 17 years as an assistant coach. He has a 415-200 record in 10 seasons as an assistant at Cal State Fullerton.