LONG BEACH, Calif. (AP) — Cal State Fullerton pitcher John Gavin threw a wild fist pump and raised his arms on the Blair Field mound, which was quite a celebration as a 6-foot-6, 250-pound athlete. He’d just thrown a shutout in an elimination game.
Gavin pitched a seven-hit shutout, leading the Titans to a 12-0 victory over host Long Beach State in the second game of the NCAA super regional on Saturday.
The teams meet again in the final game of the best-of-three series Sunday to determine a spot in the College World Series. Long Beach State (42-19-1) will play its fourth elimination game of the postseason.
“It meant a lot. This was my first complete game in three years and for it to be against our rival and for us to play one more game with each other, these guys are like brothers to me,” Gavin said.
Cal State Fullerton scored seven runs on eight hits in the third inning to break open the game in getting to Long Beach State starter Dave Smith (9-2) early. Smith allowed nine runs — eight earned — on 11 hits in three innings. And Long Beach State made four errors.
Gavin (8-2) struck out five, walked two and threw 122 pitches.
The Titans (38-22) overcame a 3-0 loss to the Dirtbags one day earlier in the first game of the series.
Seven runs are the most the Titans have scored in one inning this season. Senior Timmy Richards had two hits in the third inning for his 13th multi-hit game this season. He was 3 for 4 with two RBIs and three runs scored. Chris Hudgins hit a two-run homer to left field in the eighth to make it 12-0.
Smith (9-2) the first two batters of the game on two pitches and drew an early visit to the mound. The Titans scored twice in the inning but things got much worse.
“I take responsibility for asking so much of Dave Smith to be out there on this particular day,” Long Beach State coach Troy Buckley said. “This loss is on me. We weren’t ready to play. We were a step behind. I asked a lot of Smitty and, until this point, he has given all he had and did today, he just didn’t throw the ball well. Things got contagious.”
Long Beach State is looking to make the College World Series for the first time since 1998.
Cal State Fullerton’s 19 super regional wins are the most in super regional history.
Gavin’s name was chanted by fans and had the junior all giddy.
“(I got) goosebumps,” Gavin said. “That’s something I’ll never forget the rest of my life.”