Saturday, June 2, 1990
Oklahoma State caught fire in the desert to earn its spot in the College World Series.
The Cowboys kept the heat on Saturday night, blistering Cal State Fullerton with an 18-hit attack in a 14-4 first-round victory at Rosenblatt Stadium.
"We said before the game that we just needed to go out and play as we did in Arizona," said Cowboy shortstop Brad Beanblossom, who had four hits and drove in three runs. "The attitude is pretty much the same as it was in the regional. We're just building on what we started there."
Oklahoma State's road to Omaha ran through Tempe, Ariz., where the Cowboys ran over four opponents. Oklahoma State advanced unbeaten, hit .353 and outscored its opponents 48-16 in winning the West II Regional championship.
The Cowboys came out swinging Saturday, taking control with a seven-run second inning that included a scare when Fullerton left fielder Rich Gonzales crashed head-first into the wall chasing Michael Daniel's three-run, inside-the-park home run.
Play was held up for about 20 minutes, and Gonzales was taken by ambulance to University Hospital for precautionary X-rays for a possible neck injury. Fullerton officials said the X-rays were negative and Gonzales was not held overnight.
Fullerton Coach Larry Cochell said he was uncertain whether Gonzales will play in today's 3:10 p.m. elimination game against The Citadel. That game will precede the winners' bracket meeting between third-seeded Oklahoma State and Louisiana State, the No. 2 seed which advanced with an 8-2 win over The Citadel in Saturday's other game.
Saturday's two-game session drew 15,051 fans.
Oklahoma State, 54-16 after its ninth straight win, trailed 1-0 when the Cowboys came to bat in the bottom of the second inning. The Fullerton lead lasted two batters into the inning, as Jeromy Burnitz singled and Neil Szeryk crashed his sixth home run over the right-field fence.
Two walks and three more hits produced five more runs for the Cowboys. Bobby Carlsen singled in a run, Beanblossom had an RBI single and Daniel drilled his home run to push the lead to 7-1.
Gonzales almost made a spectacular catch, snaring the ball moments before he hit the wall. Television replays showed Gonzales had possession of the ball until he rolled over and it fell out of his glove.
Third base umpire Dick Runchey signaled the ball was in play, and Daniel circled the bases for his 21st home run.
"I didn't really think I hit it that hard," said Daniel, the Big Eight Conference's player of the year. "I thought it might get over his head, but I didn't think it would go out. I just kept running."
Although Gonzales had possession of the ball for several seconds, it was ruled no catch. NCAA baseball rules state that if a player drops the ball, whether simultaneously or immediately following a collision with another player or a fence, it is not a catch.
"It's a tough call, a judgment call," Cochell said. "He's what, 300 feet away? But he has to make the call, and it would be easy for me to go back and second guess it.
"I could say he caught the ball, that it looked like he caught the ball. But we didn't get the call."
As it turned out, it didn't matter. The Cowboys backed up their big second inning with a five-run third to provide winning pitcher Dennis Burbank with a 12-1 cushion.
Burbank, 10-1, held the 36-22 Titans to seven hits and three earned runs in seven innings. The junior college transfer from Anaheim, Calif., said the win over nearby Fullerton carried added significance for him.
"It's nice to face the program you turned down, your home-town team," the 6-foot-6, 240-pound right-hander said. "It was nice that they got here, but it was even nicer for me that we beat them."
The lopsided win, Oklahoma State's first in Omaha since 1987, also was special for Cowboys' Coach Gary Ward. The Cowboys had made a record seven straight CWS appearances from 1981-87, but were eliminated in regional play the past two years.
"The loss in '88 in Wichita and the loss in Austin in '89 were an excellent experience," Ward said. "These guys played some big-time, prime-time baseball.
"The losses gave us a greater resolve not to let it happen again. They're certainly realizing it's sweeter to win in Omaha. It's a very special feeling."