Titans Try to Tame Tigers in Omaha

The Cal State Fullerton baseball team is in the College World Series for the 12th time and they face 5-time defending champions LSU. TitanCentral.com covers this event with special correspondants Jeff Bebe and David Manning.

OMAHA, Neb. - George Horton wants to win the College World Series, and he wishes the best for mentor and pal Augie Garrido.

Of course, it'll be impossible for the skippers of both Cal State Fullerton and defending champion Texas to end up No. 1, but Horton said he'll take the next best thing: A Titans-Longhorns final.

"We'd love to see each playing again on June 23 (a possible, deciding Game 3 of the CWS championship round)," Horton told reporters yesterday, seated alongside the seven other CWS coaches, including Garrido. "I did learn the game from Augie. It means an awful lot to me to be up here at the head table with him."

The first step for Fullerton is tonight when the Titans take on LSU at 4 p.m. PT (6 p.m. Omaha time) on ESPN-2 from Rosenblatt Stadium. The Fullerton-LSU victor plays the winner of South Carolina-Stanford on Sunday.

In the other bracket that begins play on Saturday, Texas plays Miami while Rice takes on Southwest Missouri State.

The Titans and Tigers represent college baseball's royalty, combining for eight national titles (Fullerton 1979, 84 and 95; LSU 91, 93, 96, 97 and 2000).

While Garrido gives Horton all the credit for making Fullerton into moneymaker that draws nearly 2,000 fans a game into sparking college baseball facility, the current Titans headman said he knows who planted the roots of greatness on Yorba Linda Boulevard.

"(Augie) gave me a lot of credit for building the facility but make no mistake about it, George Horton could not have done that without the foundation that he layed there at Cal State Fullerton," Horton said.

In fondly recalling the Titans first CWS team in 1975, Garrido said his first baseman Horton personified a gritty squad that played well beyond its natural talent.

"George was a good player and he was smart player and he's the best guy at picking signs that ever lived," Garrido said. "He was a great player because he found ways to win and that's what made him special."

But first thing's first, and that's handling the hard-swinging Tigers, who clinched their Super Regional triumph with a 20-5 smoking of Baylor.

The Tigers have three double- digit home run hitters (DH Ryan Patterson and 1B Clay Harris 15 and OF Jon Zeringue 13) but their catalyst is SEC Player of the Year Aaron Hill.

The LSU shortstop hit .366 with 9 HRs and 67 RBI. But almost as impressive, Hill drew 47 walks and nine HBP (both team highs) to gain a whopping .475 OBP.

It's the second straight weekend that Fullerton's faced a superstar shortstop, and hopefully the second consecutive weekend of success.

In their Super Regional win over Arizona State, Titans pitchers slapped an 0-for-13 collar on the Sun Devils' Dustin Pedroia (.404 BA), the Pac-10's co-Player of the Year.

LSU coach Smoke Laval said his team will have to play mistake- free baseball because it's unlikely Fullerton will make the crucial blunder.

"They're good, they know the game, they're well coached. It's inbred in their program," he said. "They can do it all. The most scary thing is, I don't like those teams that just play hard all the time, and that's one thing coach Horton's teams have always done. They come out and go after you."