Thomas Eshelman carried a perfect game into the fifth inning for the second time this year, and needed only 62 pitches to throw seven shutout innings en route to a 6-0 Titan victory over rival Long Beach State at Blair Field Friday.
Despite not recording a strikeout, Eshelman (5-1) worked easily through the Dirtbag lineup, facing only one batter over the minimum. The lone base runner he allowed came with two outs in the bottom of the fifth on a flare single that landed at the feet of right fielder Austin Kingsolver.
“It was phenomenal. He was just pounding the zone and they were swinging early, which worked into our plan with this big field,” said catcher Chad Wallach. “We’ll take those outs any day, even if they go to the warning track.”
Blair Field is known to be a pitcher’s park, meaning it’s notoriously tough on hitters. The foul poles are 348 feet from home plate—about 20 feet further than most college and professional stadiums—and a breeze blows in from right field, deadening many fly balls.
“I enjoy playing center on a field like this, but I don’t enjoy hitting on a field like this, that’s for sure,” said center fielder Michael Lorenzen. “I wouldn’t want this to be my home field.”
By throwing strikes early in the count, Eshelman was able to coax hitters into making quick outs. He was economic from the outset of the game, using only five pitches to get through the first inning. He also set down the Dirtbags on four pitches in the seventh.
“First inning, they were hitting the ball first pitch, so I kept on going with that approach,” said Eshelman, who averaged throwing just 2.8 pitches per at bat.
Lorenzen put Cal State Fullerton (19-3) on the scoreboard in the top of the second inning when he turned a hanging curveball from Long Beach starting pitcher Shane Carle (1-3) into his third homerun of the season—a no-doubt line drive home run well over the left field wall. He has already passed his entire 2012 total.
“I’ve changed some mechanics in my swing, actually a ton of mechanics in my swing,” Lorenzen said. “I feel like I’ve finally learned how to swing a bat. A lot of people said I was raw as a hitter, and I took that to heart and figured out how to really swing a bat and how to take pitches and how to see the baseball.”
CSUF added a second run in the third when first baseman Carlos Lopez singled over the head of Dirtbag shortstop Michael Hill to score left fielder Austin Diemer from second base. Lopez leads CSUF with a .341 batting average and nine stolen bases.
The game remained close until the late innings, but the Titans were able to pull away with a run in the seventh and three more in the eighth to push the lead to 6-0. Austin Diemer’s bases loaded two-run single capped the rally.
“We played the game better than they did tonight,” Vanderhook said. “We threw better strikes, played better defense and we moved guys around the bases better.”
“It just feels good to play good baseball,” Lorenzen said. “It feels good to play the right way.”
Long Beach (9-13) managed only two baserunners during the game, both on weak singles.
Titan third baseman Matt Chapman injured his left ankle in the sixth inning while sliding into second base. Though he remained in the game, it was revealed that he has a severe sprain and is expected to miss six to eight weeks, according to Vanderhook.
For more information on the Cal State Fullerton baseball team and ticket information, visit FullertonTitans.com.
By Chris Konte