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Another Victory for Titans

Cal State Fullerton moves one win away from best-of-three championship round in College World Series by defeating Stanford, 6-5.

June 16, 2003|Eric Stephens | Times Staff Writer

OMAHA — For Cal State Fullerton, the game against Stanford on Sunday night in the College World Series was about staring down playoff demons. It was about beating a team that knocked them out of the CWS two years ago and defeated them in a memorable 13-inning game last year in the NCAA regionals.

In a pivotal winner's bracket game, the Titans got a 6-5 victory over the Cardinal thanks to their usual combination of clutch hitting and dominant pitching. Fullerton now awaits the winner of Tuesday's South Carolina-Stanford elimination game and is one victory away from the best-of-three championship series.

"Any second game in a four-team bracket is key," Titan Coach George Horton said. "It's not over yet. Teams have come through the loser's bracket. Whoever wins that elimination game is going to be a good club whether it's South Carolina or Stanford. We still got a lot of work to do."

The Titans (50-14) won their first postseason game against Stanford since defeating the Cardinal in Omaha on the way to the 1995 national title.

Sunday, P.J. Pilittere scored the game-deciding run on Richie Burgos' seventh-inning triple off the glove of Stanford right fielder Carlos Quentin.

It was all the cushion the Titans needed as Wes Littleton and Chad Cordero held the Cardinal hitless over the last four innings.

"I've played a lot of games against these guys in my four years here," Pilittere said.

"Definitely in years past, they were always the team we want to beat to become an upper-echelon team."

Pilittere also pointed to a sweep of the Cardinal in the Titans' first three games this season as a confidence booster.

"The sweep was definitely in the back of our minds. We had success against them and we know we can we play with these guys."

Littleton, the one-time All-American hopeful who struggled after his return from a month-long suspension, came up with a big performance in relief of starter Dustin Miller.

Littleton (7-2) was sharp despite making his first appearance since May 17 against Long Beach State. After Stanford took a 5-4 lead after five innings on the strength of three home runs off Miller, the junior right-hander retired the side in order in the sixth and seventh.

"People would always ask me when I would get in," Littleton said. "My answer was when my situation comes up or when my coach needs me.

"I just did my job and kept my team in it."

Justin Turner, who hit his first homer of the season in the second inning, drove in his third run in the sixth when he singled in Jason Corapci to tie the score. One inning later, Pilittere singled with one out and Burgos followed with a deep drive to right field.

Quentin, a first-round pick of the Arizona Diamondbacks, got to the fence and leaped in the air but the ball glanced off the heel of his glove and caromed off the wall. The right fielder got the ball to second baseman Jed Lowrie, but third-base coach Rick Vanderhook saw Lowrie briefly hesitate on the relay and sent Pilittere home, scoring easily ahead of the throw.

Cordero came into the game in the eighth inning and promptly blew the Cardinal away for his eighth save.

He struck out three in two innings and has only given up one run in 33 2/3 innings.

"I don't think there's anyone better than Cordero," Stanford Coach Mark Marquess said of the Titan closer. "Maybe there might be somebody as good. He's tough. He dominated us tonight."





* Game 5 -- South Carolina 11, LSU 10. LSU eliminated.

* Game 6 -- CS Fullerton 6, Stanford 5

*--* TODAY



* Game 7 -- SW Missouri State (40-25) vs. Miami (44-16-1), 11 a.m.

* Game 8 -- Rice (54-11) vs.

Texas (49-18), 4 p.m.

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