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Arizona State Stops Fullerton

Sun Devils catch Titans in delayed steal, then pile on runs for a 6-2 win that extends the series.

June 12, 2005|Eric Stephens | Times Staff Writer

When the tying run stood 90 feet away in the eighth inning Saturday and Cal State Fullerton's opportunity to win its best-of-three NCAA super-regional series against Arizona State had arrived, Fullerton third base coach Rick Vanderhook pulled out a play he used against the Sun Devils three years ago.

But Tuffy Gosewisch remembered the delayed steals of home that had yielded runs twice against him as a freshman catcher. He used that knowledge to foil the maneuver this time, and the Titans will have to go the distance to return to the College World Series.

Gosewisch picked off pinch-runner Brandon Tripp from third base to halt a Fullerton uprising, and Arizona State added four runs in the ninth to win Game 2, 6-2, before an announced sellout crowd of 3,654 at Goodwin Field.

"It comes down to a one-game tournament between two good teams," Fullerton Coach George Horton said of today's decisive Game 3. "We'll see what happens."

The Titans (46-17) struggled again at the plate but had their chance in the eighth after cutting Arizona State's lead to 2-1 on Justin Turner's two-out single that scored pinch-runner Neil Walton.

Tripp represented the tying run at third, and Turner was on second with cleanup hitter Brett Pill at the plate. Pill had a 1-and-2 count against him when Turner broke for third and fell and Danny Dorn did the same as he left from first. Gosewisch drew Tripp off third with a pump fake and threw behind him to snuff the play.

"The last time they did that, I threw it to second," Gosewisch said. "As soon as I saw [Dorn] fall down, I pictured the same thing happening and I pump-faked and threw it to third."

The play was magnified the next inning: Pill singled to right to lead off the ninth. Horton said he wouldn't second-guess Vanderhook for his decision.

"The offensive coaches decided to run that, and they outsmarted us," Horton said. "If it works, we look smart, and if it doesn't, we look stupid. Tuffy's a pretty smart little catcher, and obviously Coach [Pat] Murphy prepared him for that."

Arizona State starter Erik Averill, a former Villa Park star who held Fullerton to four hits Friday night, baffled the Titans with an assortment of changeups, scattering five hits over 7 2/3 innings. Jeff Larish gave the Sun Devils a 2-0 lead with his 20th home run of the season in the sixth, and pinch-hitter Eric Sogard had a two-run double in the ninth.

The Titans are batting .207 in the super-regional, perhaps emphasizing their need to take chances.

"We couldn't sustain anything against Averill and didn't have quality at-bats in the RBI spots when they were available," Horton said. "You tip your cap to the Sun Devils. They played great defensively behind him."

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