STANFORD, Calif. – Home runs from Scott Hurst and Chris Hudgins and Colton Eastman's two-hit, five strikeout performance from the mound powered Cal State Fullerton to a 4-2 victory over NCAA Regional host Stanford, eliminating the Cardinal from the tournament and advancing the Titans to the Super Regional round for the 13th time in school history.
The Titans (37-21) now await the completion of the Long Beach Regional to see which program they will draw in next weekend's best-of-three series for a trip to the College World Series. Selection of the eight Super Regional hosts will be announced on ncaa.com/cws on Tuesday, June 6 at approximately 5 a.m. PT.
The Titans, who had just 3 win against the Cardinal in their last 23 games at Sunken Diamond, set them down twice in this year's tournament and in doing so, knocked the No. 2 national seed from contention. With the loss, retiring Cardinal skipper Mark Marquess' career comes to an end on the field he has called home for 41 seasons. Stanford finishes with a 42-16 record.
Eastman was stellar in just his sixth start of the year. The sophomore right-hander allowed just two hits and struck out five Cardinal over 6.2 innings of work before giving way to the bullpen. He retired 13 batters in a row from the 2nd to the 6th innings and the only blemish to his line came when the defense failed to play catch on a stolen base by Duke Kinamon that resulted in an unearned run.
Fullerton jumped out to an early 1-0 lead in the top of the first courtesy of a Timmy Richards RBI-double that scored Dillon Persinger from first. Richards ball was inches short of being a home run, but the ricochet was just enough that Persinger could wheel all the way around from first to put the Titans on top.
In the Titans half of the second, it was Hurst's two run home run, his 12th of the year, that was the deciding swing of the game. He drilled Erik Miller's 2-1 offering out to right-center to give Fullerton the 3-0 edge. Miller was saddled with the loss and fell to 5-2.
After Stanford got a run back in the bottom of the second on the throwing errors by Hudgins and Hurst on the stolen base, neither team scored until Hudgins blasted his solo home run off of Stanford standout Colton Hock in the top of the 9th.
Brett Conine moved up the Titan single-season saves leader board in the victory, logging his 14th of the year and jumped him into a tie for the sixth-best performance in a season with former closer Chad Cordero.
Conine logged a six-out save for the fourth time this year despite giving up a run on a hit.
A lead-off triple in the bottom of the ninth by Quinn Brodey turned into a run on an RBI ground ball by Daniel Bakst. The Titans were willing to trade a run for an out, but Richards' throw from short sailed wide of first. Initially the play was ruled and out, but after objection from the Cardinal that Persinger's foot came off the bag, the umpires conferred with each other and the call was overturned. After that, Conine settled and retired the next three batters in order to secure the victory.
Fullerton had seven hits in the championship game. Richards and Persinger each had two, Hurst Hudgins and Hank LoForte added the other three. Sahid Valenzuela (7) and Hunter Cullen (6) saw their hitting streaks come to an end on Saturday night. Richards (6) and Hudgins (5) saw theirs extended.
At press time, Long Beach State and Texas are tied 3-3 in the 11th inning of the winner's bracket game of the Long Beach Regional.
• The Titans' all-time NCAA postseason record is 155-83 including a 121-54 mark in Regional games.
• Fullerton is making its 13th Super Regional appearance. Heading into the 2017 postseason, the Titans were tied with LSU, Miami and South Carolina for the second most Super Regional appearances since the format began in 1999.
• This is only the third road Regional championship for the Titans since the Super Regional format began. The Titans won the South Bend Regional in 1999 (the first year of the Super Regional format) and the San Diego Regional in 2007 (hosted by San Diego at San Diego State). They advanced to the College World Series in both of those years.
• Cal State Fullerton has played the third-most Super Regional games (29, tied with Miami) the inception of the Super Regional Format (1999).
• The Titans' 18 Super Regional wins (tied with Miami) is the most al-time in Super Regional history.
• This is the 8th time Cal State Fullerton has won a Regional without a loss in the Super Regional era, and the 13th time overall that the Titans advanced to the next portion of the tournament without a loss.