Tulane Eliminated by CS-Fullerton, 10-7

Tulane refused to go away in the bottom of the ninth, as the Green Wave scored a pair of runs and brought the tying run to the plate.

The Green Wave got home runs from junior left fielder Matt Barket and junior designated hitter Scott Madden, but it was not enough as host Cal State Fullerton defeated the Tulane University baseball team 10-7 Sunday evening in game two of the NCAA Fullerton Super Regional at Goodwin Field.

The Titans got three doubles from designated hitter Felipe Garcia and a two-run home run and a triple by catcher/infielder Kurt Suzuki, and Fullerton turned a quartet of Tulane errors into four runs. With the loss, the Green Wave conclude the 2004 season 41-21. Cal State Fullerton (42-21), meanwhile, advances to the College World Series.

The game was close going into the final inning as the Titans clung to a 6-5 lead, but Fullerton plated four runs on four hits to account for the final score. Tulane refused to go away in the bottom of the ninth, as the Green Wave scored a pair of runs and brought the tying run to the plate, but reliever Vinnie Pestano pitched the Titans out of the jam and the Cal State Fullerton celebration began.

Trailing 10-5, Madden hit a one-out double to right, advanced to third on a passed ball and scored on a sacrifice fly by senior third baseman Brian Bormaster. From there, sophomore second baseman Tim Guidry, sophomore center fielder Nathan Southard and junior shortstop Tommy Manzella hit consecutive singles to cut the lead to three and bring the tying run to the plate in the form of Barket.

Pestano, however, got ahead of the count and got the Green Wave left fielder to swing at a high fastball that popped out of the glove of Suzuki, but the Titans' All-American was able to recover and complete the putout at first base to end the Tulane season.

The loss marked the third time the Titans ended the Green Wave's year, including the 2001 College World Series. Tulane will have a chance to exact a bit of revenge against Cal State Fullerton next year, though, as the two teams will lock horns during the regular season at Turchin Stadium.

Sophomore southpaw J.R. Crowel (8-3) gave Tulane a workman-like effort on the mound, striking out three and giving up just three earned runs in a 6.1-inning start, but errors gave the Titans another three runs of the crafty left-hander and Cal State Fullerton tallied 13 hits off him to chase him from the game in the seventh.

Fullerton starter Ricky Romero, meanwhile, nearly went the distance and earned the win after giving up seven runs (six earned) on nine hits while striking out seven and walking three in 8.2 innings of work to improve to 12-4 in 2004.

Just as in in Saturday night's game, the Titans wasted little time taking the lead as centerfielder Clark Hardman and catcher P.J. Pilittere singled and left fielder Danny Dorn came through with a two-out RBI single to put Cal State Fullerton on top 1-0 in the visitor's half of the first.

The Green Wave had a chance to get out of the inning without any more damage done as Crowel got a two-hopper to third off the bat of Garcia, but Bormaster dribbled the ball, which allowed Pilittere to score.

Tulane cut the lead in half in the bottom of the second when sophomore right fielder Brian Bogusevic walked and junior catcher Greg Dini singled, the pair advanced a base on a passed ball, and Madden lifted a sacrifice fly to right to plate Bogusevic. The Titans, however, came right back in the top of the third as Pilittere doubled and Garcia hit a two-sacker of his own to make it a 3-1 ballgame.

Cal State Fullerton added a run in the fourth when third baseman Ronnie Prettyman singled, stole second and scored on an RBI-base knock by second baseman Justin Turner, but the Green Wave came right back in the bottom of the frame with a pair of runs of their own to make it 4-3.

Barket and Bogusevic led off the frame with back-to-back walks, Barket went to third on an errant throw by Pilittere, and Dini made it a 4-2 ballgame with an RBI single through the left side of the infield. Tulane had a chance to tie the game on an apparent two-RBI single by junior designated hitter as Bogusevic scored easily and Dini clearly got his arm between the legs of Pilittere at the dish, but home plate umpire Al Davis called him out on an 8-2 relay to thwart the rally.

Crowel retired the first two men he faced in the sixth, and appeared to get out of the inning with a three-up, three-down frame as Bormaster gloved a bunt up the third base line by Hardman, but his throw was off line which allowed the runner to reach via error. Suzuki made the extra out hurt in the ensuing at-bat with a two-run blast to left which gave the Titans a 6-3 advantage.

Tulane cut the lead to two when Barket crushed a first-pitch offering over the wall in right in the bottom of the sixth, and appeared to have another rally going when Swackhamer reached and went all the way to second on a strikeout and a wild throw to first by Pilittere, but the man behind the dish stepped in again and called Swackhamer out for running on the infield side of the baseline.

The Green Wave then cut the lead to one run on Madden's leadoff homer in the seventh, but that would be the final runs Romero would allow until the ninth inning.

The game would be decided in the final frame as Suzuki belted a leadoff triple off the wall in left, and following a groundout by Pilittere and a walk by Dorn, Garcia hit an RBI-double to make it 7-5. Right fielder Bobby Andrews hit a two-RBI single in the ensuing at bat to make it 9-5, and shortstop Neil Walton accounted for the final Titan run with a run-scoring base hit one hitter later.


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