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Windsor, Fullerton shut down South Carolina

By Will Kimmey
June 19, 2004

OMAHA--There's no challenge Jason Windsor won't accept--or conquer.

The senior righthander has never shied away from anything: not head-to-head matchups with Jered Weaver, taking 29 academic units in one semester or throwing the first complete-game shutout in 10 years at the College World Series.

He pulled off the latter feat Saturday afternoon as Cal State Fullerton beat South Carolina 2-0, adding to the degree of difficulty by holding the nation's leading home-run hitting team to just three hits in front of 23,976 fans at Rosenblatt Stadium.

"Obviously Jason Windsor is the story of today's game," Cal State Fullerton coach George Horton said. "I'm just glad you and America got to see what we’ve been seeing for two years. He keeps hitters off balance, he keeps pounding the strike zone, and you really have to do something special to score off him."

Windsor struck out a career-high 14 batters in a gutsy 145-pitch effort. He said afterward he didn't feel tired; he nor Horton realized the final pitch count until receiving the box score.

He reached 127 pitches after seven innings--and Fullerton's No. 2 and 3 starters began throwing in the bullpen--but Windsor never showed signs of fatigue. His command of an 85-89 mph fastball, breaking ball and changeup barely wavered. If anything, Windsor might have improved as the game went on, notching eight of the last nine outs on strikes.

South Carolina's best scoring chance came in the seventh inning. Trailing 2-0, the Gamecocks loaded the bases after Windsor walked pinch-hitter Nick Gardiner in a nine-pitch at-bat. Windsor thought the walk was his last batter of the inning, but the senior was allowed one more. He ended the threat--and a 27-pitch inning--by getting Steve Tolleson looking at a 2-2 offering.

"He threw me a changeup up in the zone," said Tolleson, who also faltered with two runners on in the fifth inning and struck out three times in four at-bats. "It was too close to take and I did."

South Carolina (50-16) ended its CWS opener without a run for the fifth straight time, and has gone scoreless for a combined 43 innings in games in 1982, '85, 2002, '03, '04. The Gamecocks haven't won their opening game in six straight appearances dating back to 1981.

"I have no idea," South Carolina coach Ray Tanner said. "It's a situation, No. 1, where we are playing good clubs. This was the third time we've been shutout (in three years). You hope you can rebound, hopefully we can stay alive with a win on Monday (against the Miami-Louisiana State loser)."

Fullerton, which plays the winner of that game, had its own trouble scoring. South Carolina starter Matt Campbell did his best to help the Titans with a career-high eight walks in 5 2/3 innings. Thanks to those walks, Fullerton (43-21) left 11 men on base despite just five hits and several scoring chances. It got the only run it needed in the fourth inning, as left fielder Danny Dorn swatted an outside fastball off the left-field wall for an RBI double in the fourth inning. The ball nearly carried over the fence, but hit just above the 335 marker to the right of the foul pole. The Titans added a run in the sixth on a bases-loaded walk.

But as Horton said, the game belonged to Windsor. He improved to 12-4 with his 10th complete game of the season.

"It's pretty hard to take the ball from him," Horton said. "He's a big reason why we're here. You kind of want to ride the horse to the finish line, and he gets to the finish line a lot."

It was the first complete-game shutout at the CWS since Georgia Tech's Brad Rigby did it to Fullerton in 1994. It allowed Windsor to extend his scoreless innings streak to 24. He has allowed just two runs in his last 51 innings.

"He competes," catcher Kurt Suzuki said. "He's the most competitive guy I've ever seen in my life. I'm just glad to be on his team and on the receiving end."

Suzuki almost wasn't Windsor's teammate. The righthander spent his freshman year at West Valley (Calif.) CC, from which he was poised to transfer into Fullerton for the spring semester of his sophomore year.

The catch was that Windsor needed 29 academic units to qualify, so he took them all in the 2001 fall semester. He had a full daytime slate, two night classes, two Internet courses and one he completed by mail. But he fell two units short and had to spend another year at West Valley, where he didn't have the same success he enjoyed as a freshman.

Windsor met the academic requirements to enter Fullerton the next year, but by then the Titans didn't have any scholarship money for him. He joined the team anyway and emerged as its top starter by the end of his junior season.

That carried over into 2004. As the season wound down, Fullerton needed just one win in a three-game series at Long Beach State to clinch the Big West Conference title. The Titans coaching staff decided to move its ace back a day so he wouldn't have to face Weaver, the College Player of the Year. But when Horton alerted the team of the plan, he said, "They looked at me like I had just told my daughter to come home at 10 o'clock on a Friday night."

The team wanted Windsor vs. Weaver. So did Windsor. They overruled the coach's decision, then the ace won the decision in the game. He went 10 innings to beat Weaver and Long Beach State 2-1 to clinch the title.

"It was a challenge I wanted," Windsor said. "It made it that much sweeter."

Kind of like throwing a shutout in Omaha.

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