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Single-Minded Fullerton Gets Help From Miami

June 22, 2004|Eric Stephens | Times Staff Writer

OMAHA — Cal State Fullerton's opportunistic offense and a sloppy Miami team provided all the cushion the Titans would need Monday at the College World Series.

Felipe Garcia had four singles to lead a 13-hit attack and the Titans took advantage of four Hurricane errors to post a 6-3 win and stay unbeaten before 24,857 at Rosenblatt Stadium.

The Titans (44-21) need one win in the double-elimination tournament to advance to the best-of-three championship series. They were also in the same position last year when they lost twice to Stanford.

"Both of those losses were devastating," third baseman Ronnie Prettyman said. "We'll go out there firing our guns on the first day to try to get it done in one. We'll work hard at practice so that it doesn't happen again."

Fullerton cashed in on numerous Miami mistakes, ending the 13-game winning streak for the nation's No. 1-ranked team. The Titans used three errors in the second inning to take a 3-0 lead.

Two came on the same play. Danny Dorn scored when Miami third baseman Gaby Sanchez booted a ground ball and Garcia went to third as shortstop Roger Tomas threw wildly past second base. Prettyman reached on a misplayed fly ball by left fielder Jon Jay that scored Garcia and later scored on second baseman Adam Ricks' fielding miscue.

"You can't make many mistakes and beat them," Miami Coach Jim Morris said. "They're a quality club with great pitching. With that said, we shot ourselves in the foot."

Garcia added a run-scoring single in the fourth to push the lead to 5-1. After getting only five hits on Saturday, every Titan starter but leading hitter Kurt Suzuki had at least one.

"We were patient and we stayed with the process," Garcia said.

In his first Series start, Ricky Romero wobbled in a couple of spots but persevered to go the distance. The sophomore finished a 139-pitch effort by getting Ricks to fly out to left field.

"Ricky was very good and we obviously needed him to be good," Fullerton Coach George Horton said.

With the consecutive complete games by Romero and Jason Windsor, Fullerton became the first team to accomplish the feat in the College World Series since Georgia in 1990.

"I just stuck to my game," said Romero, who gave up nine hits and struck out seven. "I didn't read any scouting reports. If I was going to give myself a chance to win, it was going to be by throwing strikes."

Miami (50-12) cut the lead to two in the seventh as Richard Giannotti tripled in a run and Tomas drove him in with a single. Fullerton wasn't fazed by the rally, pushing across a run in the bottom half of the inning. Garcia started it off with his fourth consecutive single and Joe Turgeon was sent in as a pinch-runner.

On a 2-2 pitch, Turgeon was sent from first base on a hit-and-run play and stayed out of a double play as Bobby Andrews hit a bouncer back to the mound. Neil Walton's ground ball moved Turgeon to third and Prettyman came up with a two-out single. "They had a good inning and I'm sure there was some momentum in that dugout," Horton said. "Coming back with a number is a huge momentum swing."

The Titans play again Wednesday and will face the winner of today's Miami-South Carolina elimination game. "We've still got a lot of work to do," Horton said. "We're going after it like it's single elimination."

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