Ninth-Inning Rally Saves Titans
June 18, 2006
Omaha, NE -
Cory Vanderhook's two-out, seeing-eye infield single rallied Cal State Fullerton to a 7-5 victory Sunday afternoon over Georgia Tech that kept the Titans alive in the 60th College World Series.
Vanderhook's chopper past the mound took an erratic hop to the right to avoid shortstop Michael Fisher and then died on the dirt as Blake Davis scored the tying run from third and Brett Pill scored the go-ahead run from second. Brandon Tripp followed with a wind-blown bloop single to score Danny Dorn for the final run.
Fullerton will play another elimination game Tuesday at 2 p.m. PDT against Clemson, a 2-0 loser Sunday night to North Carolina.
Matt Wieters was one strike away from a heroic performance for the Yellow Jackets. He started the game at catcher, hit a go-ahead solo home run in the seventh inning and then took the mound for the final four outs. He retired Evan McArthur on a ground ball with two men on to end the eighth inning and got the first two Titans out in the ninth. Davis singled to left and Pill hit a 1-2 pitch into right-center for a double as Davis was held at third. Dorn was intentionally walked and Vanderhook, who was picked off third with one out in the 11th inning of Friday night's loss to North Carolina, pinch hit for Joe Turgeon and delivered the game winner.
"I didn't have time to think about it," said Vanderhook. "Before I knew it I was up there. My uncle, Coach Vanderhook, told me to swing hard and hit it hard. Yes, I saw it as an opportunity to bail myself and my team out.
"As soon as I hit it, I just thought 'run'. I thought I might have a chance to beat it out."
"I just told him not to get cheated," said Rick Vanderhook, the third-base coach. "Put your best swing on it. If anything, go down hacking, not looking."
Ryan Paul (3-1) got the victory with 1.2 innings of hitless relief. He entered the game with a man on third and one out in the bottom of the eighth inning and got a comebacker and a ground ball to prevent Georgia Tech from stretching its 5-4 lead. A two-out hit batter marred an otherwise perfect ninth inning.
Wieters (1-3), who is projected as the nation's top professional prospect in next year's draft, took the loss.
Dustin Miller, John Estes and Adam Jorgenson preceded Paul to the mound. Miller weathered a tough start to work 6 innings in his return to Omaha after two arm surgeries separated him from his last start in Rosenblatt in 2003.
"With two out, I was thinking "expletive," we might be done," said Miller. "But then I thought we still had one out to go. It was exciting... I'm still shaking right now.
"I wish I had a better start today. I'm looking forward to my next outing."
"A hard-working team makes their own luck. This team deserved a little bit today," said Coach George Horton.
This was only the third time this season that the Titans won a game in which they were trailing entering the ninth inning and Pill was in the middle of each rally. At UC Santa Barbara on May 7 he had a 2-out, 2-run triple in a 3-run ninth for a 7-5 win. At USC on May 23 he had a two-out triple to tie a game in the ninth inning and the Titans won, 6-3, in 11 innings.
A one-out walk to Wally Crancer set the table for Georgia Tech in what became a 38-pitch first inning for Miller. Singles by Wieters and Jeff Kindel produced one run and a sacrifice fly to left by Whit Robbins made it 2-0. The Yellowjackets added a third run after another walk and a ground-ball single by Wes Hodges.
A walk, a hit batter, an infield single and then an error by Pill gave Georgia Tech its fourth run in the third inning but Miller struck out Steven Blackwood with the bases loaded.
After only one base runner in the first three innings, the Titans snapped a string of 13 scoreless innings in Rosenblatt Stadium with a run in the fourth. Davis got an infield single and a hit-and-run call set up Pill's single off the glove of second baseman Mike Trapani. Davis alertly went to third from where he was able to score when shortstop Fisher turned Dorn's one-hop smash into a double play.
Tripp singled to lead off the fifth and got to second on Clark Hardman's ground ball. But he was caught in a rundown when Wood snagged Evan McArthur's comebacker. Singles by John Curtis and Justin Turner made it 4-2 but Davis struck out.
Tripp's two-out triple off the wall in centerfield brought home Dorn in the sixth and Tripp scored on Hardman's single to left to tie the game at 4-4.
All seven Fullerton runs scored with two outs.
Fullerton is now 4-3 in Omaha in its second game after losing the CWS opener. It hasn't gone 0-2 and home since 1990. Coach George Horton has never gone 0-2 in a tournament in his collegiate coaching career.