THE GAME AT A GLANCE
Turning Point: Clemson had a chance to answer Fullerton's three-run seventh in the bottom of the inning. The Tigers got two runners on against starter Lauren Gagnier, and reliever Adam Jorgenson walked No. 9 hitter Adrian Casanova to load the bases with two outs. But leadoff man Herman Demmink, who singled in each of his first three at-bats, grounded back to Jorgenson to end the threat.
The Hero: Freshman DH David Cooper went 5-for-5 with a home run, four RBIs and a go-ahead RBI single in the top of the eighth inning as Fullerton overcame a 6-3 deficit. It was the first five-hit game of Cooper's career.
You May Not Have Noticed: Lefthander Ryan Paul, who became Fullerton's closer when Vinnie Pestano was lost for the season in May, began the game at the team hotel. He was battling a stomach flu and arrived at the game late. He struck out lefthanded hitter Andy D'Alessio with a runner on second base and no outs in the ninth inning to help preserve the lead.
OMAHA--Cal State Fullerton's time at the College World Series has proven gut-wrenching, and not only because each of the Titans' three games has come down to the final at-bat.
A stomach virus hit junior righthander Lauren Gagnier on Sunday and the bug wound up affecting six family members and friends associated with the team. It struck junior lefthander Ryan Paul on Monday night.
Gagnier and Paul both pitched in Tuesday's 7-6 come-from-behind win against Clemson. Fullerton trailed 6-3 before scoring three times in the seventh inning and once in the eighth to advance to Wednesday's 5 p.m. ET rematch with North Carolina. The four-hour, five-minute win for Fullerton was the third-longest nine-inning game in CWS history.
"I'm very proud of my warriors today," Fullerton coach George Horton said. "We had some real special efforts, and we found a way to come out on top."
The list starts with Gagnier. Horton initially believed Gagnier's sickness, which kept him the clubhouse for the first seven innings of Fullerton's comeback win Sunday against Georgia Tech, was caused by the pitcher's eating day-old pizza that hadn't been refrigerated. The subsequent sicknesses brought forth an apology.
Gagnier battled for 6 2/3 innings, allowing all six runs Clemson (53-16) scored after being handed a 3-0 lead heading into the bottom of the first inning. But his resilience helped save a thin pitching staff that began the game with Paul still in his hotel room.
Paul got to the park in the middle innings and came on to face the lefthanded hitting Andy D'Alessio with the tying run on second base and no outs in the bottom of the ninth. D'Alessio ranked second nationally with 23 home runs and already had driven in two runs with a ringing double off the wall in the bottom of the first inning. Paul struck out D'Alessio on a slider in the dirt, pumped his fist and then knelt down behind the mound.
"It was nausea and the other end," Horton said. "We had to stick a cork in Paul in that inning."
No other Fullerton players were sick, but several still produced gusty performances. Righthander Wes Roemer, who will start tomorrow against North Carolina, recorded the final two outs of the game in relief of Paul to earn his first save of the season. Sophomore righthander Adam Jorgenson came in after Gagnier to fire 1 1/3 scoreless innings that included extricating the Titans from a two-on, two-out jam he inherited in the seventh inning.
"Jorgy has saved me four earned runs already in the College World Series," Gagnier said. "He saved me two against North Carolina and then two more today. I've got to get him a present or something when we get back."
Jorgenson (2-0), a sophomore who had pitched 41 1/3 innings all season, played an unlikely but important role on a roster loaded with experience. So did freshman DH David Cooper, the only hitter in Fullerton's starting lineup that wasn't a junior or senior.
Cooper went 5-for-5 with four RBIs. His biggest hit came in the eighth inning off Clemson closer Daniel Moskos. The lefty-lefty matchup was a change for Cooper, normally Fullerton's DH against righthanders. He fought off a curveball by lofting a single over the extended glove of shortstop Stan Widmann and into shallow center field to send home the deciding run.
"These guys mean a lot to me," Cooper said. "They're like my older brothers setting good examples and teaching me how to work. It's important to me to help let them live to see another day."
Cooper's key hits came in all innings. His RBI single in the first inning helped chase Clemson starter Jason Berken after three runs in 1/3 of an inning. Cooper stroked a two-run home run as part of a three-run rally in the seventh that ended the game for Tigers reliever P.J. Zocchi, who threw six strong innings of relief of Berken and allowed two runs.
"He stepped up big," said third baseman Evan McArthur, who had two hits and drove in the game-tying run in the three-run seventh.
"He wasn't fazed by the pressure or the atmosphere of this stage and allowed us to play another day. That's tough for a freshman or any player for that matter. He's just another Titan doing the job."