After Cal State Fullerton evened its non-conference series against Long Beach State Saturday, head coach Rick Vanderhook couldn’t help but acknowledge the Dirtbags’ scheduled pitcher for game three, junior Clayton Andrews.
“Hopefully he’s tired from running around the bases and out in center field so much,” Vanderhook said.
He was sarcastically referring to the five times Andrews reached base safely in the first two games as well as the great defensive plays he made look routine patrolling center field. In game three, the two-way threat set up Long Beach’s 3-1 series clinching win with 7 ⅔ innings on the mound and a go-ahead 2-run triple that broke a scoreless game in the eighth.
“Anyway that I can do my part to help us get a win, I’ll do it gladly,” Andrews said. “We always preach about getting our jobs done…so to do my job for the team feels really good.”
Andrews’ crushed a fly ball off the base of the right-center field wall at Goodwin Park that allowed juniors Shaq Robinson and Jarren Duran to score and give Long Beach the lead late in the game. He scored on an error with two outs in the inning and shortly after returned to the mound for the bottom of the eighth looking to cap off the seven scoreless innings he had already thrown. But doing it all is nothing new for Andrews, who was recruited from Cabrillo College to both pitch and play the field.
“Andrews was huge all weekend,” Long Beach head coach Troy Buckley said. “I thought he really competed on both sides of the ball and was certainly our MVP. He led us to a couple victories this weekend that’s for sure.”
Fullerton (9-12) won game two 2-1 over Long Beach (10-12) in a game that the Dirtbags struggled to cash in opportunities and left 11 runners on base. On Sunday, Andrews stranded six Titans that included the bases-loaded jam he escaped with in the bottom of the third.
The Dirtbags’ offense also struggled against Titans junior starting pitcher Andrew Quezada. He threw six innings and retired the first 12 hitters he faced. Quezada was removed after surpassing a 60 pitch limit due to shoulder soreness.
“I thought [Quezada] carved them up like Thanksgiving turkey,” Vanderhook said. “He threw it good. I thought his stuff was good.”
The rally started with a leadoff walk by Robinson who reached third base with one out. Duran also reached via free pass which set the table for Andrews game winning hit.
The series win will closes another chapter of the storied rivalry between these two programs. The last time Fullerton and Long Beach met was the NCAA Super Regional, a series that the Titans clinched at Blair Field to earn a trip to the 2017 College World Series.
“This rivalry is something that we are all super excited to be a part of,” Andrews said. “They hate us, we hate them and we’re super happy to get out of here with a ‘W’ today.”
Long Beach looks ahead to a mid-week matchup with San Diego State (16-7) at 6 p.m. Tuesday at Blair Field. While the rest of the Big West Conference teams start league play this weekend, the Dirtbags will play a series against Fresno State (13-10) at Bob Bennett Stadium in Fresno.