Fullerton Takes Out Stanford…AgainAt The Ballpark
STANFORD, Calif. — “His first collegiate start was here in February and I think he went two-thirds of an inning.”
Tanner Bibee interrupted his coach to correct him.
“One-third? Sorry I was a third off,” Cal State Fullerton head coach Rick Vanderhook said to a chorus of chuckles in the Titans’ post-game news conference following a Bibee-led 5-2 win over national No. 2 seed Stanford to advance to the super regionals.
Bibee pitched into the seventh inning, giving up five hits while striking out a career-high 11 batters to pick up the biggest win of his young career.
“Before the game, I said, ‘Dude, you’ve got nothing to lose. Have fun,’” Vanderhook said. “And I think he had some fun today. It’s hard to do that as a freshman in this environment.”
When Fullerton opened the season at Sunken Diamond, the Titans were easily swept away by Stanford, including a Sunday game that saw the freshman Bibee unable to make it out of the first inning. He gave up a single, then balked. He gave up a single, a sac fly and then fired a wild pitch. He walked a batter and gave up a two-run triple before getting the quick hook. Bibee was charged with four runs. The only out he got still scored a run. Like the Titans, Bibee’s beginning was a disaster.
Fullerton started 0-4 for the first time in program history. The Titans were later 1-7 and then 11-15 before they finally started to turn things around. They went 22-8 over the final 30 games of the regular season and ran away with the Big West title, making their way back to the Stanford Regional for the second year in a row.
A rematch or three loomed against the team Fullerton eliminated last year and that swept the Titans to begin the season. The Titans were not the same team that struggled to begin the season.
“[The team is] a lot different. We’ve just settled into spots,” Vanderhook said rattling off all the positions of uncertainty early in the season that Fullerton has since found solutions for. “They’ve just settled in. The pitchers have settled into their roles and if they all do their job and you get a little lucky, good things happen.”