Two more teams punched their tickets to Omaha tonight; both are on the left side of the bracket, and both are from the Left Coast. Arizona State got a four-hit performance from first baseman Brett Wallace and 7 2/3 shutout innings from lefthander Josh Satow in a 7-1 win against Mississippi to clinch the Tempe super-regional. In the late game, Cal State Fullerton righthander Jeff Kaplan allowed just an unearned run over 6 2/3, and first baseman Matt Wallach singled home catcher John Curtis with the go-ahead run in the seventh inning to propel the Titans to a 2-1 win over UCLA. The Bruins got a wonderful outing from freshman lefthander Gavin Brooks in the loss–he struck out a career-high 12 over eight innings of work, but UCLA couldn’t get him any support. Timely hitting proved lacking, as the Bruins finished 2-for-13 with runners in scoring position.
There’s a real chance for all four Omaha teams on the left side of the bracket to be from the West Coast. The Sun Devils will face UC Irvine in one game, and Cal State Fullerton will face the winner of the Oregon State-Michigan super-regional. The Beavers won the opener today and need just one more victory to reach the CWS for the third straight season. Of course, there was never any chance for an all-West Coast championship series, because there was not a single West Coast team on the right half of the bracket. The committee really ought to make sure that doesn’t happen again in the future.
Meanwhile, give Cal State Fullerton for finding its way back to Omaha in a year when its talent level was down from where it has been in recent years. What a great coaching job by George Horton and his staff, and what a gritty couple of weeks for a Fullerton team that looked dead in the water heading into the postseason, having lost its final four conference series. You just can never write off the Titans. You could say the same about a number of teams heading to Omaha; this should be one heck of a College World Series.
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