Cal State Fullerton will advance to a super regional for the sixth consecutive season after holding off feisty UCLA, 5-4, in a regional-deciding game Monday night at Goodwin Field in Fullerton.
The Titans (40-20) will face Stanford in a three-game series beginning Friday with a berth in the College World Series on the line. The victory was not easy, as UCLA put the tying run on third base with two out in the ninth, but UCLA leadoff hitter Jermaine Curtis flied out to center field to end the game and Fullerton improved to 12-3 all-time in regional-deciding games.
The Titans won the regional the hard way, coming through the losers' bracket with a pair of victories Sunday and another Monday after losing to the Bruins on Saturday.
UCLA, meanwhile, still hasn't figured out how to get past a Fullerton team that has been the Bruins' nemesis since 2000. Fullerton has defeated UCLA in 22 of 27 games since 2000 and has ended UCLA's season in the playoffs two years in a row.
Monday night, catcher Dustin Garneau had a two-run double in the fourth inning to give Fullerton a 4-2 lead, then drew a bases-loaded walk in the fifth to give the Titans a 5-3 lead.
Fullerton struck first, scoring twice in the third inning on consecutive run-scoring, two-out singles by Christian Colon and Erik Komatsu.
The Bruins tied it at 2-2 a half-inning later. Blair Dunlap led off the top of the fourth with a home run, Alden Carrithers followed by drawing a walk and went to third on a double off the wall in right-center field by Casey Haerther. One out later, Ryan Babineau hit a scoring fly ball to left.
Garneau's one-out double in the bottom of the fourth drove in Brian Wilson and Gary Brown to put Fullerton back on top.
UCLA trimmed it to 4-3 in the top of the fifth when Brady Dolan led off with a single and went to third on consecutive wild pitches by Wilson, the Fullerton starter.
Jason Dovel relieved Wilson and was met by a flare single down the right-field line by Brent Dean.