Fullerton befuddles LSU - Tigers fall 8-2

OMAHA, Neb. – LSU had waited three years to get back to Omaha and the College World Series. <br><br> However anticipation turned into disappointment as Cal State Fullerton rudely welcomed the Tigers back to Rosenblatt Stadium with a decisive 8-2 thumping Friday night.

The Titans (49-14) survived a few early threats from LSU even overcoming an early deficit to score four runs in the third and another trio in the fourth to pull ahead of the second-seeded Bayou Bengals.

 

"A few things could have went differently today," Laval said.

 

It was not a good day for the SEC as both conference representatives went down in defeat. Prior to the Tigers 8-2 loss, South Carolina was shelled in an 8-0 defeat to Stanford. LSU and the Gamecocks (44-21) will meet in an elimination game Sunday afternoon at 2 p.m.

 

"This is behind us," LSU shortstop Aaron Hill said. "Our club has been successful all year long after losing on Friday. We are not counting ourselves out at all. Last year, South Carolina lost the first game then went on to play for the national championship."

 

Fullerton managed to escape a tight situation in the bottom of the first after pitcher Jason Windsor struggled to throw strikes. The junior hurler opened the game throwing seven straight balls, including a leadoff walk to Bruce Sprowl. J.C. Holt ripped a seeing-eye single through the left side giving LSU two on with no outs.

 

"I wasn't myself in that first inning," Windsor said. "I buckled down, relaxed and got things turned back around."

 

Hill grounded into a fielder's choice, which forced Holt at second. Still, with runners at first and third with one out, LSU could not capitalize Windsor struck out Blake Gill and Clay Harris in order.

 

Nate Bumstead held Cal State in check through the second frame and enjoyed a brief lead when designated hitter Ryan Patterson gave the crowd of 23,135 (a session two record) a charge by depositing a 1-2 pitch into the left field stands.

 

That would be about the entire highlight reel had to offer for the Tigers.

 

Things started unraveling when Bumstead when Kurt Suzuki led off with a bunt single to third. Jason Corapci drew a walk and Ronnie Pretty man moved the runners over with a sacrifice bunt, which Fullerton used most of the day to generate runs.

 

"They play a little different style of ball than I am used to," Bumstead said of the Titans' ability to bunt. "They used offensive pressure with all of the bunts. And they did a great job of hitting me."

 

Suzuki gave Cal State their first run of the game scoring on a wild pitch. Justin Turner was handed a base on balls, setting the stage for the evening's most critical moment. Junior right fielder Shane Costa drilled a Bumstead fastball into the right field bleachers for a three-run dinger putting the Titans on top for good.

 

"I tip my cap to him (Costa)," Bumstead said. "The pitch I gave him on the home run was a good pitch."

 

Costa, who has been Fullerton's most successful batter this season, set the chain of events in motion eventually leading to the final outcome.

 

"He tends to do special things at special times because that is what special players do," CSF head coach George Horton said.

 

While Bumstead's day went even further south in the fourth frame, with Cal State widening the lead to 7-1 with a three-run spot, Windsor picked up steam holding the Tigers in check until a single run in the sixth. Windsor went just five and two-thirds innings, but struck out six, walked only two while giving up a single run on four hits.

 

Windsor got the hook because of a dicey situation in which LSU made one final push to get back into the game. Holt singled to center advancing to second on a fielding error. After Hill flied out to shortstop and Gill struck out looking, Harris drew a two-out walk and Naccarata reached on a throwing error.

 

Windsor was relieved by Sean Martin, who threw one pitch and retired the side. However, not before a tense moment when Patterson gave Martin's offering a ride to the warning track.

 

"I have been here (Omaha) before, but never actually pitched in a game," Martin said. "The adrenalin was pumping pretty good. I threw a strike and didn't think he hit it that good until (leftfielder) Danny (Dorn) started fading back."

 

As much as Martin hoped the ball would stay in the park, Patterson was wishing it would get out.

 

"I wanted it to go out, but I missed it and then I realized it wasn't going," Patterson said.

 

LSU managed an insignificant run in the seventh when Jon Zeringue reached on a leadoff double and scored on an RBI by Sprowl.

 

Bumstead eventually gave way to Greg Smith after five and two-thirds innings. The sophomore allowed eight runs on nine hits with three k's. Smith threw an inning and a third while Jake Tompkins and Billy Sadler each logged an inning of work.

 

The Tigers fall to 3-4 all-time against Fullerton, with all seven meeting with the Titans coming in the postseason. The teams had not met since LSU defeated Horton's club 13-11 and 14-3 in Baton Rouge to advance to the College World Series. The last time the Tigers met Fullerton in Omaha, the Titans eliminated LSU 20-6 and sent the Tigers home in the only two-and-out showing at the CWS in program history.


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