Baseball wins thriller in Fullerton

FULLERTON, Calif – The Wildcats had lived dangerously all night, but it didn't look like they would survive a final Cal State Fullerton rally. The Titans were down one with the bases loaded. While the fans and coaches may have been worried the players were not. Closer Mark Melancon was scuffling, but he looked his catcher in the eye and said "It's Showtime." Three outs later the Cats had a 6-5 win.

"I was calmer that last inning than I was the first," claimed catcher Nick Hundley.

Melancon came on in the eighth inning, with mixed results. He gave up a run scoring single to his first batter, but struck out Danny Dorn to close out the inning.

It was rocky in the ninth. The Wildcat closer had a 6-3 lead to protect, but almost gave it up. His first pitch was rocketed up the middle for a single. He hit the next batter and gave up another single before John Curtis blasted a double to the right center gap that plated two runs.

After than he was nails. "I knew he'd give us a great run," said Hundley who walked out to the mound and heard the boast.

"I heard him say that," said Jordan Brown. "He's crazy." After an intentional walk, Melancon struck out Blake Turner, got Sergio Pedroza to fly out to shallow left field. He earned his 11th save by getting Brett Pill to line into a fielders choice.

"That was a solid, solid college baseball game," said Wildcat coach Andy Lopez. "We were fortunate to win. That was just a good baseball game. We feel very fortunate to get this one done."

Arizona had two big innings and then had to sweat out the win. The Cats scored three in the fifth and three in the sixth. From the fifth on the Titans had no fewer than two runners on. All told they stranded 17 runners and were just 3-20 with runners in scoring position. At one point they were 0-16 with runners in scoring position.

The Cats got on the board in the fifth. Hundley made up for his third inning throwing error that led to a Titan run. He led off the inning with a solo shot to tie things up.

Two batters later Jason Donald singled and came home on a Jason Seefeld double to left that bounced around in foul territory.

Seefeld scored when a Trevor Crowe grounder was misplayed by the Fullerton shortstop.

The Cats went back to work in the sixth. Brad Boyer walked to lead off the inning. An error by third baseman Ronnie Pettyman gave the Cats runners at first and third. Brown cleared the bases with a blast to right field.

From there on out the Cats held on for dear life.

Starting pitcher Kevin Guyette was chased two batters into the sixth. He hit the first batter he faced and then gave up a bunt single to Brandon Tripp.

Lopez called on freshman Eric Berger to get out of the inning. Berger was blasted when the Cats played Fullerton in the regular season, but he was steady the second time out. A walk and wild pitch allowed a run to score, but he got the next three batters out to survive the inning.

Things got no easier. In the seventh the first two batters got on before Berger worked his way out of the jam. In the eighth the Titans loaded the bases with just one out, but only one run scored.

Guyette got the win after pitching five strong innings. He gave up seven hits and struck out five, while surrendering only one earned run. Berger pitched 2 2/3 giving up just one earned run. He too struck out five.

Ricky Romero took the loss. The left hander may be a surefire first rounder, but he was touched up for six runs, four earned. He gave up just three home runs all season, but surrendered two on Saturday night.

The Cats play the winner of Cal State Fullerton/Missouri at 8:00 PDT. If the Wildcats win on Sunday night or on Monday they would advance to the Super Regional against the winner of the Tempe Regional.


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