OMAHA, Neb. -- The College World Series final is within reach!
Cal State Fullerton took a huge step forward Sunday night with a 6-5 victory over Stanford. Freshman Justin "Red" Turner and veteran closer Chad "Chief'' Cordero continued their amazing playoff efforts, leading the Titans to their second- round CWS victory. Now all the Titans need to do is win one of two games against Tuesday's South Carolina-Stanford survivor.
That game is set for Wednesday afternoon.
Here's how Sunday's action looked to two
fans in the stands:
5:02 p.m. (CT): The final out of South Carolina's 11-10 victory over LSU is recorded. Have a nice trip back to Baton Rouge, you pretend No. 2 seed. What a joke.
6:45: "Red" hooks one around the left-field foul pole. 3-0 Titans! What a time for your first collegiate home run! We have a feeling Omaha hasn't seen the last of Justin Turner, not by a long shot.
7:50: Stanford's Chris Carter rips a one-hop screamer to Red, who picks it cleanly for a 6-4 fielder's choice and a fifth-inning bases-loaded jam is averted.
7:53: Wes Littleton comes into relief and Titans fans greet him warmly. What kind a luxury is this, bringing in a Team USA member for middle relief? It's his first action since May 17 against Long Beach State -- which brings to mind, how much is that Big West title doing you now, Dirtbags? The Nightstalker must have a full stash of war paint, since he's probably not using it while watching us in the CWS from his couch.
8:03: Red again! He bloops an RBI single to tie it in the sixth. One batter earlier, Kyle Boyer nails a seed to 3B for an out. Where's the justice?
8:24: Shane Costa drops a single down the right- field line but it thrown out trying to stretch. Hot dog right fielder Carlos Quentin (obviously forgetting his defensive lapse in 2001 that led to the Cardinals' humiliating defeat to Miami) points at his arm in cocky celebration. Karma comes back to bite him minutes later.
8:28: Richie Burgos lofts a high drive to right and Quentin looks like he has a play, but can't come up with it, resulting in an RBI triple. Titans take the lead for good, 6-5! Surprisingly, Carlos does not point to his glove.
8:48: "Chieeeeeeef!'' The Titans crowd goes nuts as Chief sprints in, looking for six outs to end it.
9:04: A weak grounder to second, Fullerton wins and P.J. Pilittere leads a Titans charge from the dugout!
11:15: Back at our hotel, we're
watching George Michael's "Sports Machine'' (how long has this guy been
doing this wacky show, with the fake big buttons?) and Reed Johnson nails a
game-winning home run for the Blue Jays. What a day and night for the Titans,
past and present!
Some random thought as Day 3 of the CWS comes to an end:
- We have a few days to ponder this, but who do we want to throw on Wednesday? If we're facing Stanford (with right-handed power hitters like Quentin and Ryan Garko), how about right-hander Darric Merrell? He's the only guy on staff, coming into this tournament, with a CWS win.
- Let's root for South Carolina over Stanford. Sure, Fullerton's handled the them all season, but do we really want to roll the dice on beating them five in a row, or five out of six?
- On our late-night trip back to the hotel, we drive by the empty Westroads Mall in Omaha, one movie comes to mind: "Back to the Future.'' An deserted mall parking lot just screams of Michael J. Fox, Christopher Lloyd and terrorists from Libya.
TitanCentral.com's Stars of the Game
TitanCentral.com usually picks three stars for each game, but Sunday night's victory had four obvious standouts. We're bending the rules a little, and naming four stars.
No. 4: Richie Burgos' seventh-inning triple broke a 5-5 tie.
No. 3: Wes Littleton's first action in almost a month was crucial, recording six key outs.
No. 2: Justin Turner went 3-for-3 with three RBI.
No. 1: Chad "Chief'' Cordero makes it looks easy, nailing down the win.
KEY STAT: Littleton and Cordero
combine for four hitless innings of relief and three strikeouts.