LONG BEACH, Calif. — Colton Eastman was heroic and Hank LoForte was clutch, as Cal State Fullerton hung on to defeat Big West rival Long Beach State 2-1 to clinch the Long Beach Super Regional and the Titans’ 18th trip to the College World Series.
For the Titans (39-22), they’ll be making second trip to Omaha in the last three seasons, while it makes the first time they’ve come back to win a Super Regional after losing the first game.
To Omaha we go! pic.twitter.com/VomnpMxU8Y
— Titan Baseball (@BaseballTitans) June 11, 2017
Eastman (2-0) was nearly unhittable on the mound, as he tossed a season-high seven innings, allowing just one hit and zero earned runs while striking out eight. Eastman put together this performance after earning the win in Fullerton’s regional clinching at Stanford last Saturday. Eastman had a no-hitter going through five innings.
Closer Brett Conine came in and finished the deal, getting the biggest six outs of the season and earning his 15th save of the season. He pitched a pair of shutout innings while scattering three hits and striking out three, including the final batter of the game to seal up the series.
LoForte picked up one hit on the day, but it was the biggest knock of his career, as he blasted a one-out single to right center in the fourth inning to score Sahid Valenzuela and Dillon Persinger to put the Titans up 2-0. Valenzuela started the inning by getting plunked with a 1-1 pitch, while Persinger also hit a batter later to put the runners on first and second with no one out. Senior Timmy Richards then executed a perfectly placed sacrifice bunt to move the runners up before LoForte came through with the big hit.
This one was a pitcher’s duel the entire way, as both teams were held scoreless through the first three innings, before the Titans struck for their two runs in the fourth.
Long Beach State (42-20-1) answered back with a run in the sixth, as Jarren Durran scored on a passed ball after leading off the inning with a single through the right side. However, Eastman and the defense limited the damage to just the one run.
Drama then ensued in the ninth inning, as Conine surrendered a leadoff double to Brock Lundquist, but was then nails after that, recording a ground out, a pop up and then the swinging strike out of David Banuelos to clinch the game and start the dog pile.
The Titans will play Oregon State next weekend in the opening round of the College World Series. Time is still to be announced.