Gagnier comes close to perfection in win

Updated: June 11, 2006, 2:12 AM ET
Associated Press

FULLERTON, Calif. -- Cal State Fullerton pitcher Lauren Gagnier took a no-hitter into the eighth inning and struck out nine as the Titans beat the Missouri Tigers 9-1 on Saturday to earn their 14th trip to the College World Series.

The entire team ran out of the dugout and piled on one another in the middle of the infield, celebrating a dominant weekend in which they scored 16 runs and held Missouri to just two in two games. Fullerton (48-13) will start a three game series against North Carolina on Friday in Omaha, Neb. North Carolina upset fourth-seeded Alabama in dramatic fashion earlier in the day.

Fullerton's offense spotted Gagnier a three-run lead before he ever took the mound and used two big innings to prevent Missouri (35-28) from ever coming close.

But the night belonged to Gagnier, whose 118-pitch performance gave the Titans their 12th win in a row and the 3,370 fans at Goodwin Field a night to remember in the team's last game on its home field.

Missouri was technically the home team per NCAA tournament rules.

Gagnier threw eight innings, surrendering the only two Missouri hits in the eighth inning, including the lone Tiger run, a solo shot by catcher J.C. Field. Gagnier walked one batter.

Offensively, the Titans were led by Danny Dorn, who went 2-for-5 with a pair of two-run doubles and scored two runs, keying a three-run first and four-run seventh innings. The first five batters in the order were pesky, hitting 7-21 and scoring eight of Fullerton's nine runs.

With a 4-0 lead in the fifth inning, head coach George Horton was nearly ejected after an extended argument with home-plate umpire Tony Maners over a batter's interference call on a leadoff drag bunt by Brandon Tripp. The play and argument was a microcosm of Fullerton's aggressiveness, as the team continued to attempt small-ball plays even as its lead grew.

Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press