STILLWATER, Okla. - Cal State Fullerton's impressive late-season run finally came to an end Sunday night as they fell to No. 10 Oklahoma State 6-4 in the Regional championship at Allie P. Reynolds Stadium.
The Titans let a three-run lead slip away as the Cowboys put together a three-run seventh inning to take the lead for good. The Titans concluded the 2014 season at 34-24.
Greg Velazquez went 2-for-3 with a double and two RBI to lead the Titans offense as eight of the nine starters collected a hit. J.D. Davis was 1-for-5 with a run scored and a RBI. He finished the season on a 16-game hitting streak and was named to the Stillwater All Regional Team. Matt Chapman was 2-for-4 with two runs scored.
The Titans led 4-3 in the seventh but the Cowboys offense erupted and capitalized on some Fullerton miscues on defense. The hosts sent nine men to the plate in the inning and collected five hits while the Titans also committed an error in the inning. Second baseman Tim Arakawa put the Cowboys ahead with a two-run single and then catcher Bryan Case added some insurance with an RBI single to put Oklahoma State ahead 6-4.
Fullerton would not go quietly as they tried to mount a rally in the top of the ninth. David Olmedo-Barrera hit a one out single and advanced to third base on a two-out base hit by pinch-hitter Tanner Pinkston. Jared Deacon drew a walk to load the bases for Taylor Bryant, but Cowboys closer Brendan McCurry struck him out to seal the victory and collect his 19th save of the year.
Olmedo-Barrera was 1-for-2 on the night and was 5-for-11 at the Stillwater Regional. He had one double, scored a run and had two RBI.
The Titans had jumped out in front in the first inning as they sent nine men to the plate against Cowboys' starter Tyler Nurdin. Tyler Stieb drew a leadoff walk and advanced to second on a sacrifice. Davis singled to center to plate Stieb and give the Titans a 1-0 lead.
Matt Chapman followed with another single and both runners advanced 90 feet on a passed ball. Greg Velazquez then came through as he sliced a double just inside the right field foul line to score Davis and Chapman and give the Titans a 3-0 lead. After a strikeout, Austin Diemer and Deacon drew consecutive walks to load the bases and that was the end of the line for Nurdin as the Cowboys went to the bullpen. Reliever Trey Cobb then came up and struck out Taylor Bryant to finally end the inning after 25 minutes.
Nurdin allowed three earned runs in just 2/3 of an inning, allowing three hits and three walks to go with one strikeout.
After three innings of getting stifled by Titans starter Phil Bickford, the Cowboys finally found some offense and got some help from some shaky Titans defense to get on the scoreboard. Tanner Krietemeier led off the inning with a single and then Gage Green laid down a sacrifice bunt back to the right side of the mound. Bickford could not come up with the ball and everyone was safe on the error. Bickford got the next two outs of the inning but Conor Costello smacked a single to left to score Krietemeier and cut into the Titans lead, making it 3-1. The Cowboys would go on to load the bases for catcher Bryan Case, but Bickford froze him on a slider on the outer half of the plate for a called strike three and the threat was over.
But the Titans would get that run back in the next inning as Chapman reached on an error and got into scoring position on Williamson's single to center. Diemer stepped up and laced the first pitch he saw from Cobb through the left side for a single to score Chapman and make it 4-1 Titans.
Williamson went 1-for-4 and reached base safely for the 31st consecutive game. Diemer would go 1-for-3 with an RBI while Bickford went five and 1/3 innings for the Titans, allowing three runs, two earned, on six hits. He walked one and struck out six. The 2014 Big West Conference Freshman Pitcher of the Year finished the season with a 2.13 ERA.
The Cowboys would not go away, however, as they trimmed the Titans lead to one in the sixth inning. Arakawa led off the inning with a single and then Costello teed off on a 2-0 offering from Bickford and deposited it over the left-center field fence for a two-run home run to make it 4-3.
It was Costello's second homer in as many nights against Fullerton pitching. He finished the night 2-for-4 with three RBI while Arakawa was 2-for-3 with two RBI and a run scored.
2014 NCAA Stillwater Regional All-Tournament Team
C – Bryan Case, Oklahoma State
1B – Tanner Krietemeier, Oklahoma State
2B – Tim Arakawa, Oklahoma State
SS – Donnie Walton, Oklahoma State
3B – Craig McConaughy, Oklahoma State
OF – Michael Pritchard, Nebraska
OF – Ryan Boldt, Nebraska
OF – Conor Costello, Oklahoma State
DH – J.D. Davis, Cal State Fullerton
Pitcher – Graham Wiest, Cal State Fullerton
Pitcher – Brendan McCurry, Oklahoma State
Most Outstanding Player – Donnie Walton, Oklahoma State
Notes: Pitcher Grahamm Wiest was the other Titans player named to the Stillwater All Regional Team after going eight innings in the Titans victory over Nebraska earlier in the day… The Titans are now 44-15 in Regional play since the Super Regional era began in 1999. They failed to advance to the Super Regionals for just the fifth time in that span with three of those regional losses coming on the road. They have still never gone winless in regional play… Fullerton's pitching staff finished the season with a collective 2.24 ERA, setting a new Titans record, shattering last year's mark of 2.47… Thomas Eshelman finished the season allowing 0.58 walks per nine innings, ranking third in Titans history… Wiest finished the season with a 1.68 ERA, the fifth best single-season mark in Titans history. Eshelman's 1.89 ERA ranks ninth on that same list… Eshelman now ranks first all-time in career ERA, boasting a 1.69 mark in 239.1 innings pitched after his first two seasons. Wiest ranks 10th all-time with a 2.63 ERA in 304 innings while Justin Garza is eighth with a 2.49 ERA in 187.2 innings of work.