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Fullerton Takes Game 1 on Balk

Arizona State pitcher's misstep is a gain for the Titans, who rally in the ninth inning to win, 3-2, and take a 1-0 lead in super-regional.

June 11, 2005|Eric Stephens | Times Staff Writer

Arizona State players stood silently with blank stares in their dugout. Cal State Fullerton players ran onto the field in a similar state of shock. No one will forget how this NCAA baseball playoff game ended.

Fullerton rallied for a 3-2 victory on a balk as Arizona State attempted to load the bases with an intentional walk, bringing a tight Game 1 of an NCAA super-regional to a sudden and controversial end before an announced sellout crowd of 3,654 at Goodwin Field.

Arizona State reliever Zechry Zinicola was called for the balk in the bottom of the ninth inning, bringing in Danny Dorn with the winning run as Fullerton (46-16) took the lead in the best-of-three series.

The Titans need just one win to return to the College World Series to defend their title.

As Zinicola was throwing ball four to walk Bobby Andrews and load the bases, third base umpire Jack Cox made the call, ruling that Zinicola didn't come to a complete stop before making the pitch. Home plate umpire Andy Eaves waved in Dorn and the game was over.

For The Record
Los Angeles Times Sunday June 12, 2005 Home Edition Main News Part A Page 2 National Desk 1 inches; 50 words Type of Material: Correction
College baseball -- In some editions of Saturday's Sports section, an article about a Cal State Fullerton baseball game said plate umpire Andy Eaves made a decisive balk call in Cal State Fullerton's 3-2 NCAA super-regional victory over Arizona State. The call was made by third base umpire Jack Cox.

"I've never seen the game end on a balk," Arizona State catcher Tuffy Gosewisch said. "I think you've got to lose it on the field and I don't know if that's what happened tonight."

Fullerton trailed, 2-1, entering the ninth but Brett Pill led off with a double off the glove of third baseman Travis Buck. Dorn moved him to third as he reached on a perfectly-placed bunt.

Arizona State Coach Pat Murphy brought in Zinicola, who threw wildly past first baseman Jeff Larish as he tried to hold Dorn close. Pill came home to tie the score and Murphy ordered his pitcher to load the bases with two intentional walks. It would never get to that point.

Fullerton Coach George Horton said he has never won a game in that manner.

"It was a good baseball game," Horton said. "It's just unfortunate it had to end on an unusual play. It certainly would have been more fulfilling I think for our club if we had won on a base hit or a sacrifice fly or something."

The Sun Devils fell to 37-23.

"I'd like to see the players end the game," Murphy said of the balk call by Cox. "He's got to live with it. That's not a sound baseball call and he knows it."

Fullerton pitcher Ricky Romero, picked sixth overall by the Toronto Blue Jays in Tuesday's draft, gave up only three hits -- one of them Travis Buck's two-run homer in the fourth -- struck out seven and walked one for the win. Arizona State's Jason Urquidez allowed two hits and one run in 7 2/3 innings, the run coming on Ronnie Prettyman's homer in the second.

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