Monday, June 14, 1999 • Box score
Finally, some drama at the 53rd College World Series.
After seven straight games essentially decided by the sixth inning and all with victory margins of at least four runs, Cal State Fullerton and Texas A&M battled to the final pitch Monday night in a Bracket Two elimination game.
Fullerton reliever Kirk Saarloos - with the tying runs on second and third and one out in the bottom of the ninth - came on to get a popout and a strikeout to secure the fourth- and sixth- ranked Titans' 4-2 win over the fifth- and sixth- ranked Aggies. What was left of another session-record crowd of 22,824 at Rosenblatt Stadium was on its feet roaring at the end.
"My heart is still pounding a little," Fullerton Coach George Horton said. "The game started a little sloppy in the beginning, but got better and better as it went along."
Saarloos' seventh save preserved Matt Sorensen's perfect record.
The sophomore starter improved to 12-0. He gave up 10 hits over 8 1/3 innings, but walked none.
"I just wanted to get ahead and not try to do too much," said Sorensen, who walked 10 in 12 innings of two previous NCAA appearances, both no-decisions. "I wanted to let my pitches dance a little because I have good movement.
"Last week, I tried to throw too hard and was too aggressive and my off-speed pitches were up. Getting ahead in the count was the key today."
On Monday night, Sorensen appeared ready to pitch his second complete game of the year. After wobbling through 64 pitches in the first three innings, he fired only 48 while cruising through the fourth through the eighth innings. And he retired the A&M leadoff hitter in the ninth.
But Aggie second baseman Sean Heaney grounded a single to left, then designated hitter Greg Porter doubled to left center to move the tying runs 90 and 180 feet from home plate.
"I was just trying to get the crowd in the game and give them something to cheer about," Sorensen joked. "Actually, I wanted to finish. But I have great confidence in Kirk."
Saarloos came out the bullpen and got A&M second baseman Dell Lindsey to foul out near the first-base dugout for the second out.
The last batter was left fielder Chad Hudson, the Aggies' No. 9 hitter who twice earlier had lined out. Hudson worked the count full, but struck out swinging, giving Fullerton its 50th win in 63 games.
"It looked like a vintage Aggie baseball," A&M Coach Mark Johnson said. "We got two men in scoring position. We were proud to put ourselves in that position in the ninth inning, but the clock ran out."
The Big 12, which started the CWS tooting its horn as the only conference with more than one representative, leaves quietly. The Aggies (52-18) joined fellow Big 12 member Oklahoma State on the sidelines as the first two teams eliminated, both in the minimum two games.
"I don't think that makes a statement about the Big 12," Johnson said. "We're sorry we went two-and-out.
"But once you get to the tournament, you can't judge on the conference. You judge on who showed up."
In the first 2 1/2 innings, Texas A&M and Fullerton traded single runs.
In the bottom of the first, A&M used two infield singles, an error and first baseman John Scheschuk's sacrifice fly to take a 1-0 lead. Fullerton tied it in the top of the second with two singles, a double steal and catcher Craig Patterson's sacrifice fly.
Three straight singles to start the bottom of the second - the last one a run-scoring hit by Lindsey - put A&M up 2-1 in the bottom of the second. Again, Fullerton quickly tied the game when second baseman David Bacani homered to open the top of the third.
Bacani also started Fullerton's next scoring surge. He doubled to open the fifth and moved to third on center fielder Reed Johnson's bunt. When the Aggies relaxed after thinking they had called time, Johnson zipped to second.
Left fielder Spencer Oborn followed with a two-run single, giving the Titans a 4-2 lead. And it held up as A&M could get only four hits in the final five innings.
"We didn't hit the ball as well as we had," Johnson said. "That happens sometimes. You just hit dry spots."