LOUISVILLE (AP) — Cal State Fullerton is going back to the College World Series thanks to David Olmedo-Barrera.
The junior’s tie-breaking home run that was upheld on review led off the 11th inning and lifted the Titans to a 4-3 win over host Louisville in Monday night’s deciding game of the Louisville Super Regional. It gave the Titans their first trip to Omaha, Neb. since 2009.
Fullerton (39-23), a four-time national champion, will play reigning champ Vanderbilt at 8 p.m. Sunday night in the final first-round game of the CWS.
“I feel like the Titans are going home,” said Olmedo-Barrera, who also hit a first-inning home run to stake his team to an early lead. “I feel like we belong there. We knew it all along despite what people would say about us and despite what happened in the beginning of the season, we’re going there now.”
Fullerton, which started the season with losses in five of its first seven games, showed the same wherewithal against the Cardinals (47-18), rallying from a 3-1 deficit to force extra innings.
The Titans took a 1-0 lead in the top of the first on Olmedo-Barrera’s two-out solo homer down the right field line.
Louisville tied it in the bottom of the fourth on Will Smith’s 2-out solo home run to left field. The Cardinals took the lead on Brendan McKay’s sacrifice fly in the sixth then increased it in the eighth when Zach Lucas led off with a single, stole second, advanced to third then scored on a pair of wild pitches by Fullerton reliever Tyler Peitzmeier.
The Titans tied it in the eighth on Jerrod Bravo’s two-out, two-strike, 2-RBI single off Louisville closer Zack Burdi.
It stayed 3-all until the top of the 11th when the left-handed hitting Olmedo-Barrera went opposite-field with a fly ball that cleared the fence.
“I didn’t even feel it hit my bat really, I just got set up early, tried to stay short to it and catch up to his 95, 96-plus (fastball),” Olmedo-Barrera said. “As soon as I saw it take off I kind of just put my head down and ran.”
Third-base umpire Heath Jones initially ruled home run, causing Louisville coach Dan McDonnell to ask for a replay review.
“The calling umpire, the third base umpire, had the ball fair, inside the pole,” crew chief Doug Williams said. “We, as a crew, got together and the entire crew had the ball fair. Per NCAA rules we went to replay. There’s two guys in Atlanta that look at the video. They’re both looking at it. I don’t know how they do it, but he looked at it and he confirmed the ball on the field was a home run.”
Peitzmeier (4-3) picked up the win with five solid innings of relief. The senior left-hander gave up one earned run on four hits while striking out three. Titans ace Thomas Eshelman, who threw 100 pitches in Fullerton’s 3-2 10-inning win in Game 1, picked up the save. He struck out one before being selected by the Houston Astros in Monday night’s Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft.
Burdi (6-1), the Cardinals’ closer, took the loss. The sophomore right-hander gave up one earned run on three hits while walking one and striking out two in 3 and 1-3 innings.
Lucas had three hits to lead Louisville, the tournament’s No. 3 overall seed. The Cardinals missed several opportunities Monday night, and throughout the series. Louisville stranded 11 baserunners in Game 1 and seven, including two in the bottom of the ninth, in Game 3.
“We had our chances,” McDonnell said. “The two games we lost we had chances to drive in a run and we didn’t. We left winning runs on the table. When you’re the home team you’ve got to take advantage of those opportunities.”