FULLERTON — Fans at Goodwin Field were chanting, “Tom-my Wil-son, Tom-my Wil-son.”
For good reason. Wilson pitched seven superlative innings on Saturday, leading Cal State Fullerton to a 5-2 victory over Washington in Game 2 of their NCAA Super Regional in front of 3,508.
Game 3 will be Sunday at 9 p.m. ET, with the winner advancing to the eight-team College World Series in Omaha, Nebraska.
Wilson allowed just one run — a home run by Joe Wainhouse in the bottom of the fourth inning — and three hits. He struck out three and walked one to pick up his seventh victory of the season without a loss.
Had Wilson and the rest of the Titans not come through, their season would have been over.
“Oh, it means the world,” said Wilson when asked about helping keep his team’s season alive. “I mean, I just go out there every time I pitch and try and give my team a chance to win and a big important game like that is part of pitching and it means a lot to give my boys that chance.”
Wilson’s father, actor Thomas F. Wilson (aka Biff Tannen) of “Back to the Future” fame, was in the stands cheering on his son and his teammates.
“I mean, it was a little tough to see him — you saw our crowd, big crowd — but I know he’s out there providing energy, so it’s awesome to have him there,” Wilson said.
After Wilson induced a double-play ball in the sixth inning, his father could be seen celebrating.
“Was he fired up?” Wilson asked. “That was a good one; we needed that.”
“Well looky what we have here.”
– Biff Tannen after a Titan Victory pic.twitter.com/cVsYodaZjH
— NCAA Baseball (@NCAACWS) June 10, 2018
It was more than Wilson’s performance that helped the Titans (36-24) force a Game 3. Clutch hitting and solid defense were key factors. After committing five errors in Game 1 on Friday, Fullerton made just one Saturday.
“Made less errors today, gave up less runs and scored more,” Titans coach Rick Vanderhook said. “That always works.”
The Titans got on the board with a pair of runs in the second inning. Sahid Valenzuela led off with a triple and came home on a double by Jake Pavletich. Pavletich went to third on a single by Chris Prescott and came home when Daniel Cope grounded into a double play.
“I like to play with emotion and leave my heart out on the field.” – @BaseballTitans winning pitcher (7-0) Tommy Wilson on his first-ever Super Regional appearance.#RoadtoOmaha pic.twitter.com/V3jPv75qxf
— Big West Baseball (@BigWestBaseball) June 10, 2018
The Huskies got one back in the bottom of the fourth inning when Wainhouse belted his 18th home run of the season over the fence in left center field.
The Titans responded with two runs in the top of the fifth on a double by Cope, an RBI triple by Jairus Richards and an RBI single by Brett Borgogno for a 4-1 lead.
Fullerton extended its lead in the top of the seventh when Cope singled and eventually scored on an RBI triple by Hank LoForte for a 5-1 cushion.
Indeed, the way the Titans played Saturday after playing poorly a day earlier, was like night and day.
“I think yesterday we might have over-hyped the moment and I think today we kind of treated it just as any other game,” Wilson said. “And I think that’s what you need to do in big games like this, is just settle down and do what you do.”
You heard it from the hero of the day @tommy_wilson_ , we need you fans to continue to bring the energy for tomorrow with a spot in Omaha on the line#EverythingTogether #RoadToOmaha pic.twitter.com/WJ6STOLIkq
— Titan Baseball (@BaseballTitans) June 10, 2018
Wainhouse hit his second home run of the game in the bottom of the ninth off relief pitcher Brett Conine. Wainhouse, when asked, agreed that his team just missed a few other pitches against Wilson, who gave up a handful of long outs.
“We definitely feel like we were doing that all game,” Wainhouse said. “We hit a lot of balls hard, just right to people. … Their guy threw well. He got us to fly out more than we would like to.”
The Huskies on Friday seemed to take shorter swings when 12 of their 14 hits were singles. On Saturday, they appeared to change their approach, perhaps feeling they had a better chance to go deep against Wilson than they did against Friday starter Colton Eastman.
Washington (34-24) had just six hits. Fullerton had 11.
Huskies coach Lindsay Meggs gave all the credit to Fullerton.
“Congratulations to the Titans,” he said. “They’re here for a reason, just like we are and nobody has to be reminded about their history and the type of program they are and the success that they’ve had.
“I don’t know how realistic it is to expect anybody to come in here and get them in two games.”
Meggs started Jordan Jones (6-4), who lasted just 4-2/3 innings. He gave up four earned runs on seven hits with no strikeouts. Ace Joe DeMers was available, but Meggs used him to close out the ninth inning Friday.
“We just felt like we didn’t want to push him to the degree that if we start him we have to get him out of the game in the sixth,” Meggs said of DeMers, who is 7-3 with a 2.44 ERA.
Meggs said DeMers will start Sunday. Vanderhook said he had not decided between Tanner Bibee (3-5, 3.81 ERA) or Andrew Quezada (4-5, 3.90 ERA).
This article is written by Robert Morales from Inland Valley Daily Bulletin and was legally licensed via the Tribune Content Agency through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.