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Titans Put Final Touches to Super Weekend

Cal State Fullerton beats Arizona State, 7-1, and earns a berth in College World Series at Omaha.

June 09, 2003|Dan Arritt | Times Staff Writer

The signs of accomplishment were everywhere Sunday at Cal State Fullerton's Goodwin Field.

On Shane Costa's uniform, where brick dust from three consecutive head-first slides in the second inning was still mixed with the team colors an hour after Fullerton's 7-1 victory over Arizona State in the deciding game of an NCAA baseball super regional.

The wide smile on Kyle Boyer's face reflected his key contributions in his return from injury. His leadoff home run in the second inning preceded Costa's hustle around the bases and helped the Titans to a 7-0 lead after three innings.

And most of all, Fullerton's success could be confirmed from the crowd of 3,215, which didn't set a stadium record for the third consecutive day, but raised the energy level before the Titans broke out to an early lead.

Dustin Miller (9-2) did his part, delivering another strong performance from the Titan starting pitching staff. Miller held the hot-hitting Sun Devils to three hits and one run in 7 2/3 innings. The freshman right-hander showed some nerves early, walking batters in the first two innings, but settled into a groove and got 14 of the next 17 outs on ground balls.

"He had about 12 or 13 [full] counts that were key pitches," Fullerton Coach George Horton said. "And he came back with good pitches on just about every one of them."

The victory advanced the Titans (48-14) to the College World Series in Omaha for the third time in the last five years, their 12th appearance overall. Fullerton, which won titles in 1979, 1984 and 1995, will open play Friday against Louisiana State (45-20-1).

The Titans solved Arizona State starter Beau Vaughan (10-6) early. They scored three runs in the bottom of the first after Vaughan opened the game by hitting Ronnie Prettyman with a 1-and-2 pitch. Justin Turner followed by lining a 1-and-2 pitch into the left-center-field gap for a run-scoring triple, the first of his college career and third of the series for the Titans.

After Costa's one-hopper over the head of the drawn-in second baseman scored Turner, Costa stole his 27th base this season and scored on a one-out single by Richie Burgos for a 3-0 lead.

"I didn't think we made quality pitches when we were ahead in the count," Coach Pat Murphy said. "That kind of set the tone."

Boyer, making his first start in four games after pulling a muscle in his rib-cage area during batting practice June 1, chased Vaughan with his leadoff homer in the second. The blast also left Boyer feeling more secure about his future plate appearances.

"Before, it hurt when I swung, but today it only hurt after I swung," said Boyer, who also singled and stole a base in the third inning. "That allowed me to go ahead and put a quality swing on [the ball]."

The Titans didn't let up in the second inning. After Prettyman doubled to left, he was bunted to third and Costa turned a soft line drive over shortstop Dustin Pedroia into a double by running hard out of the batter's box. Costa then stole third with a head-first slide and scored on a close play on P.J. Pilittere's sacrifice fly to short right.

Pedroia, the Pacific 10 Conference co-player of the year, was 0 for 13 in the series. He had his first consecutive hitless games this season in the first two games of the series.

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