Omaha Bound

Louisville, Ky. – Cal State Fullerton junior David Olmedo-Barrera's second home run of the night in the top of the 11th inning powered the Titans to a dramatic 4-3 Super Regional championship victory over the No. 3 national seed Louisville Cardinals Monday night.

The win sends the Fullerton (39-23) to the College World Series for the 17th time in 41 years at the Div. I level and its first since 2009 and ending its longest drought without a trip to Omaha in school history. Louisville's attempt for a third-consecutive trip to the CWS falls short, ending its season with a 47-18 record.

Fullerton will face Vanderbilt in its first game of the College World Series Sunday night at 7 p.m. CT/5 p.m. PT from T.D. Ameritrade Park in Omaha.

Tyler Peitzmeier (4-3) worked 5.0 innings of relief of starter Conner Seabold and picked up the win. Thomas Eshelman, making his second career relief appearance and first since May 24, 2013, logged his first career save with a scoreless 11th inning.

Olmedo-Barrera's game-winning homer – his 10th of the year and second of the night – came off losing pitcher Zack Burdi (6-1), who suffered his first loss of the year. The slicing, towering, shot got out of the park, just inside the left field foul pole and even induced an umpire huddle and a review via instant replay. The fair call on the field stood, hushing the record crowd of 6,010. It was the highest attended postseason game and second largest audience in Jim Patterson Stadium history.

With a two-out error, Louisville had the tying run on in their half of the 11th, but catcher Chris Hudgins gunned down Ryan Summers trying to steal for the game's final out, handing the Titans their eighth Super Regional championship since the format began in 1999.

A crucial moment in the game for the Titans came with the bases loaded with two out in the top of the eighth and the Titans trialing, 3-1.  Jerrod Bravo connected on his biggest hit of the season, shooting a breaking ball from the hard-throwing Burdi through the left side scoring Taylor Bryant from third and Josh Vargas from second to tie the game. Not only did Bravo's hit tie the game, but it extended his streak to 44 consecutive games reaching base, setting a new Cal State Fullerton record.

The blown save by Burdi also lost a potential victory for starter Josh Rogers, who tossed 7.0 strong innings of three-hit ball, while fanning six in his final start of the year in front of his home crowd. He made two pitches in the eighth to pinch-hitter Hudgins and was taken out in lieu of relief pitcher Lincoln Henzman.

Louisville took a 2-1 lead in the bottom of the sixth inning on a sacrifice fly by Brendan McKay. After a leadoff single by Nick Solak, the Titans went to the Peitzmeier in the pen with a 2-2 count to left-handed hitter Corey Ray. Peitzmeier hit Ray with his second pitch to put runners at first and second.

On a back-pick attempt at second base by Titan catcher A.J. Kennedy, the ball skipped away from the infielder covering, allowing the runners to move up 90 feet. McKay then put a charge into one to deep right field where Dustin Vaught made a great play, leaping into the fence for the out. Solak scored with the go-ahead run.

In the eighth the Cardinals tacked on a third run as Zach Lucas led off with a single through the left side and advanced around the bases on subsequent back-to-back wild pitches. The first, Lucas was running and stole second, but Peitzmeier's curveball was swung on and missed and bounced to the backstop. The following pitch bounced behind Kennedy allowing Solak to score.

Lost in the late-inning heroics, Titan starter Seabold pitched valiantly.  He and Rogers went toe-to-toe through five innings with the only runs coming via the long-ball. Olmedo-Barrera had a two-out solo home run in the first, his ninth, to give the Titans an early lead.  Will Smith provided the punch for Louisville with a solo homer to left in the fourth.

Seabold allowed just two runs on five hits over 5.0 innings of work. Only the home run was earned as Kennedy's throwing error in the sixth led to the second run.


NOTES:

• This will be Rick Vanderhook's first College World Series as a head coach but his 12th trip to Omaha as a Div. I coach. He's made 10 trips with the Titans (1990, 1992, 1994-95, 1999, 2001, 2003-04, 2006-07) and one with UCLA (2010).

• Vanderhook is a three-time national champion for Cal State Fullerton – once as a player in 1984, and twice as an assistant coach in 1995 (under Augie Garrido) and 2004 (under George Horton). The Titans were also the national runners-up in 1992, losing the final game to the champion Pepperdine Waves coached by recently retired Andy Lopez.

• Bravo reached base in his 44th straight game on Monday with his clutch single to left. He broke Tyler Pill's old school record set in 2010. Interestingly, Bravo's streak began on Feb. 15 against Louisville in a non-conference match-up at the Opening Weekend Challenge in Clearwater, Fla.

• The Titans are 18-11 (.621) in 12 Super Regional appearances dating back to the tournament format change in 1999. This series in Louisville was just the third Super Regional the Titans had played on the road (at Ohio State in 1999 and at UCLA in 2010).

• Thomas Eshelman's last relief appearance came his freshman year (May 24, 2013) against CSUN. He tossed 4.0 innings, gave up two runs on six hits and struck out five without a walk.

• Olmedo-Barerra's two-home run night was the first since May 23, 2014 against CSUN. J.D. Davis hit two home runs at Goodwin Field the same night that Justin Garza tossed his no-hitter.