In MLB’s inaugural game of the MLB4 Tournament, Cal State Fullerton baseball kept Texas Christian University at bay behind six shutout innings from starting pitcher Tanner Bibee. The Titans topped the Horned Frogs 2-0 for their first win of the 2019 season.
Unlike previous years, CSUF opened the season at the spring training facility of the Arizona Diamondbacks and Colorado Rockies as they were selected to be one of four teams in the collegiate tournament hosted by MLB.
Bibee started the game with retiring TCU for the first two innings while the Titans took a different offensive approach.
Second baseman Hank LoForte started the base running for CSUF by working a walk in the first inning after getting into a 0-2 pitch count. But third baseman Brett Borgogno followed up forcing an out at second and getting caught in a rundown when TCU’s shortstop, Hunter Wolfe, missed the out at first.
The Titans offense blossomed in the second inning with catcher Daniel Cope scorching a home run into left field. Leading TCU by a run, Fullerton did not extend its lead after AJ Curtis sneaked a single pasted the diving second baseman.
“I think our pitching and defense did really well and I think that kind of propelled us to win,” Cope said.
By the third inning, TCU started grinding out their at-bats against Bibee. TCU’s Andrew Keefer and Bobby Goodloe, the seventh and eighth hitters, got the Horned Frogs’ their first hits of the game. A walk and stolen base later, the Titans were able to get out of trouble when Josh Watson grounded out to leave the runners stranded in scoring position.
“It was a real competitive game, they had runners on all the time and we just pitched out of it and ran after balls and I’m happy it worked out,” Bibee said.
In CSUF’s fourth inning half, Sahid Valenzuela brought in Jackson Lyon with a soft single to right in a close play at home for the last run of the game. The RBI single was one of the three hits Valenzuela had to start off the season in his home state.
With two supporting runs, Bibee managed to keep TCU scoreless through another three innings as they started to pressure the base paths with runners. The Horned Frogs left 12 runners on base with 10 stranded in scoring position.
After two innings of relief pitching from Gavin Velasquez, Michael Weisberg entered the ninth to close out the game for the Titans. After getting two quick outs, Weisberg proceeded to give up a single and walk, which would have potentially tied to the game for TCU with an extra base hit.
“Weisberg had a good game for his first game in two years. He hasn’t pitched in two years so that was his first time against another team in a real game,” said CSUF head coach Rick Vanderhook.
With the MLB4 tournament coinciding with MLB Spring Training, professional players are only miles away from their alma maters.
“It’s fun always coming out and seeing ‘Hooky’ and getting to see (Kirk) Saarloos who was my pitching coach when I was here at Fullerton,” said Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Dylan Floro.
Floro was a member of the Titans baseball team from 2010 to 2011.
Julia Pihl contributed to this article.