EUGENE, Ore. – Starting pitcher Casey Delgado threw a gem of a contest and Austin Peay's baseball team defeated Cal State Fullerton, 3-0, in an elimination game of the NCAA Baseball Championship's Eugene Regional, Saturday afternoon.
Austin Peay (40-23) advances to its first-ever regional championship round and will face Oregon in an 8 p.m. (CT), Sunday contest. It also give the Govs two wins in an NCAA Championship for the first time in program history.
Already this season, Delgado (9-4) had a complete-game win and was part of a combined shutout but saved his best performance for the NCAA Tournament. The right-hander held the Titans to three hits and three walks over nine innings while striking out four to post his team-leading ninth win.
Cal State Fullerton (36-21) had two great scoring chances in the middle of the contest, but Delgado and the Govs escaped both times.
Delgado surrendered a leadoff double in the fourth and the Titans promptly moved the runner over. With the infield drawn in, Delgado induced a sharp grounder to Jordan Hankins who threw home to P.J. Torres who applied the tag for the run-saving out.
Two innings later, Delgado hit a batter with two out and promptly surrendered two stolen bases as the runner reached third. The Govs then chose to intentionally walk the next batter with a base open and he moved to second on a stolen base. Delgado got out of the jam himself, with his second strikeout.
The Govs offense was similarly held quiet by Titans starting pitcher J.D. Davis, who threw six scoreless innings and allowed only four hits before handing the ball to his bullpen. The bullpen would hold the game scoreless for one more inning before Austin Peay broke through in the eighth.
Jon Clinard started the eighth with a walk, ending the day for reliever Willie Kuhl. Jose Cardona came on in relief and surrendered a single to Hankins while Clinard advanced to third on a properly executed hit-and-run play. The Govs then scored their first run when Cardona uncorked a wild pitch, allowing Clinard to score the eventual game-winning run.
Cardona would then retire the next two Govs hitters he would face. But as they have all season, the Govs struck with two outs on the board. Rolando Gautier brought home a second run with a single to center field. Tyler Childress followed and seemingly provided the Titans with a third out when he popped the ball up on the infield. However, the Titans defense could not catch the ball and Gautier scampered home with a third run. Cal State Fullerton would work out of the inning, but the damage had been done.
Hankins and Greg Bachman each had two hits to lead the Govs nine-hit attack. Gautier and Childress were credited with the game's only RBI.
Kuhl (2-4) suffered the loss after allowing one run in one-plus inning of work. Three Titans each had one hit.