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Close Call for Titans, Cordero

Fullerton gets scare but reliever stifles rally in 3-1 win over San Diego in regional opener.

May 31, 2003|Ben Bolch | Times Staff Writer

With four wins in 50 games against Cal State Fullerton dating to 1976, San Diego didn't figure to pose much of a threat Friday in its NCAA baseball regional game against the top-seeded Titans.

But the Toreros gave the Titans sweaty palms in the eighth inning of the first postseason meeting between the teams, with the tying runs on base and potential go-ahead run at the plate with only one out.

Enter Fullerton closer Chad Cordero, who shut down San Diego over the final 1 2/3 innings to secure the Titans' 3-1 victory before 3,159 at Goodwin Field. Cordero recorded his seventh save of the season and 33rd of his career to set a school record.

The Titans (44-13) will play Notre Dame (44-16), a 13-5 winner over Arizona (35-22) earlier Friday, in a winner's bracket game at 4 p.m. today.

Cordero, who entered in the eighth with runners at first and second, got Joey Prast to pop up to first and Freddy Sandoval to ground out to second. He pitched a perfect ninth with two strikeouts.

"Chad Cordero showed why he's probably the premier closer in the country," San Diego Coach Rich Hill said.

Fullerton starter Jason Windsor (9-2) gave up only two hits and one run -- on Sandoval's seventh-inning home run off the right-field foul pole -- over 6 1/3 innings. It was the fewest hits Windsor has allowed in nine starts since joining the rotation in mid-March.

Fullerton scored a run on P.J. Pilittere's sacrifice fly in the fourth and another on Justin Turner's squeeze bunt in the sixth.

Richie Burgos drove in the other run with a double off the wall in left-center.

The Titan bats got the job done but squandered numerous opportunities to put the game out of reach. Leadoff hitter Ronnie Prettyman flied out twice with the bases loaded and the Titans stranded 13 baserunners.

"We had a lot of opportunities and couldn't get that clutch hit to break the game open," Fullerton Coach George Horton said.

Notre Dame 13, Arizona 5--Matt Edwards' three-run triple keyed a seven-run second inning and Matt Macri added a three-run home run in the fourth as the Fighting Irish built an early 11-run lead en route to the victory. Notre Dame pitcher Ryan Kalita (7-1) gave up nine hits and four runs over eight innings, striking out eight while walking five.

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