The biggest rivalry in college baseball yielded the Big West Champion again, and for the second year in a row, in dramatic fashion.
Cal State Fullerton (#22) clinched the Big West title this weekend with a series sweep over #8 Long Beach State. The Titans clinched the conference championship Friday when Felipe Garcia singled in the game-winner in the 10th to give his team a 2-1 win.
The Titans clinched the title at Blair Field a year after the 49ers did the same at Goodwin Field.
The game was sent into extra innings courtesy of Ronnie Prettyman, who drove in the game-tying win in the bottom of the ninth off Long Beach ace Jared Weaver. Weaver, a National Player of the Year candidate and the likely #1 selection in the imminent Major League Baseball Amateur Draft, was working on a complete game shutout before Prettyman struck.
The win gives Fullerton an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament, their 13th bid in as many years. The streak is the fifth longest in the nation.
Long Beach will earn an at-large bid after going 36-14 overall, including wins over national powers Cal, USC, Baylor, Arizona, Wichita State and Irvine.
In the race for third, Irvine won two of three at home against Riverside, but needed a series sweep to overcome Riverside in the league standings.
UCI first baseman Tim Stewart drove in the tying run in a three-run fifth and the Anteaters added some insurance on a solo home run by catcher Mark Wagner in the seventh to win the series over UC Riverside 4-2 Sunday at Anteater Ballpark.
Both teams would seem to stand a chance at attaining an at-large berth considering their resumes. Riverside finished third in a very strong Big West Conference, while Irvine spent much of the year in all of the national Top 25 polls, including a few stints in the Top 10.