Fullerton Super Regional Preview
Cal State Fullerton
Coach: Rick Vanderhook
Postseason history: 14th super regional appearance (second straight). Seeking 19th trip to Omaha and second straight.
Postseason route: No. 3 seed in Stanford Regional. Went 3-0, defeating Stanford 5-2 in regional final.
Scouting report (anonymous coach breaks down the Titans)
“I think the thing with Fullerton is they are scrappy, they believe in themselves, they do believe in the underdog mentality that it’s us against everybody. It’s not a lot of power. It’s just a lot of scrap. They do whatever they can to get on base. I think they play solid defense, and the big thing is they’ve really kind of solidified what they are on the mound.
“They’ve developed four guys who can start. When you look at Colton Eastman, who’s a legit guy against anybody, and then the Tommy Wilson kid has had a really good year, the Andrew Quezada kid has had a good year and he has good stuff. And then you throw in the freshman (Tanner) Bibee, who’s really come on and gotten a lot of confidence, and he was the one who threw that last game against Stanford. He’s got good stuff and can throw three pitches for strikes.
“The Fullerton M.O. is they make you beat them, so you’ve gotta hit. And you’ve gotta get on base. They’re not gonna beat themselves, and I think they’re just continuing to do that. They don’t play like a team that is worried if they win or lose. They’re just playing to win. I don’t know if that’s the best way to put it, but they’re going to keep the game close and they’re gonna find a way. They’ll bunt when they need to, and the guys will scrap and choke up and do whatever it takes. I think they just kind of embrace that mentality.
“I think Washington is more physical at the plate, but I don’t think you can count Fullerton out in anything that you do, because I think the games are gonna be close. They believe in themselves, and they’ve got a good pen with (Blake) Workman and (Brett) Conine at the end.
“I think they challenge themselves with their schedule where they can beat anyone anywhere. They’ll just have to play their game. And if they do it, they’ll be in it.”
Coach: Lindsey Meggs
Postseason history: First super regional appearance. Seeking first trip to Omaha.
Postseason route: No. 3 seed in Conway Regional. Went 3-0, defeating Connecticut 9-6 in regional final.
(anonymous coach breaks down the Huskies)
“There’s a lot of veteran guys with a lot of at-bats. It’s a scrappy group. Other than (Joe Wainhouse)—he has big power this year and really emerged as a threat in the middle of the lineup. But I think their late run, offensively, getting Willie MacIver and A.J. Graffanino back (from injury), I think getting those two guys back kind of propelled them in the second half of the season.
“I think the best hitter on their team is the Nick Kahle kid behind the plate. Even though he may not have the best numbers, he’s kind of a guy you don’t want to face in a spot. A really confident hitter and really balanced at the plate, and he seems to come up with a big hit when they really need it. But when you go up and down their lineup, there is some speed there. Levi Jordan has had a great year, and he really stabilized them, because when Graffanino went down, he slid over to shortstop and didn’t miss a beat. So that was a huge deal.
“But when you look at how their team is made up, it’s a bunch of scrappy guys who are playing with a ton of confidence right now. They have some veterans. They don’t panic in a spot. They’re really good with two strikes in terms of fouling pitches off and finding ways to get on base. It’s not like there’s anything sexy about their offense. They just find ways to be a team that feed off each other and is very confident.
“I think (pitching coach) Jason Kelly has done a really, really nice job with those guys. Joe DeMers, he’s just a pitch maker. He can throw them at any time. The changeup’s kind of his pitch that gets him into any count he wants, but the breaking ball he can throw for a strike against anybody. He kind of has a funk delivery where he steps toward the first-base dugout and throws toward the plate, but he can throw to both sides. If you look at his numbers, he doesn’t walk anybody. He’s very efficient, and obviously he threw the perfect game this year. You have to beat him, because he’s not gonna beat himself.
“If you look in the bullpen, the guy they’ve gotten serious mileage out of is Alex Hardy. For me, he’s finally healthy, he’s had a massive year. Every time there’s been a spot, he’ll go in and get some major outs. He’ll go 89-92 mph and spot up a fastball and throw a slider. And I think he’s pitching with a ton of confidence. Those four guys are really the guys they go to.
“Their offense will score four or five runs a game, and I know they scored more than that at Coastal. But still, the game is tight, and they’ve won a lot of close games. And really I think they were playing for their regional lives for the last three or four weeks. And sometimes when you face those teams that are like that, they’re firing on all cylinders once they get into the postseason.”