Cooper rallies CS Fullerton past top-seeded Clemson

Updated: June 21, 2006, 9:54 AM ET
Associated Press

OMAHA, Neb. -- It must be the uniform.

That's one explanation coach George Horton gave for Cal State Fullerton's staying power in the College World Series.

The Titans came from behind for the second straight game to beat Clemson 7-6 on Tuesday night. On Sunday, they scored three runs in the ninth inning to beat Georgia Tech.

"There's one thing about a Titan uniform: I can never remember a Titan quitting," Horton said. "It's passed on from generation to generation, team to team."

Fullerton (50-14) will face North Carolina on Wednesday and would have to beat the Tar Heels twice to win Bracket 1 and reach the best-of-three championship series this weekend.

David Cooper, the only freshman in the Fullerton lineup, went 5-for-5 with a home run and four RBI, including the go-ahead single in the eighth inning.

Cooper became the 14th player in CWS history and the first since 2001 to have five hits in a game. His second homer of the season brought the Titans within 6-5 in the seventh, and his single with two out in the eighth produced the winning run.

"I got some pitches to hit, and they just fell," Cooper said. "And there were a couple lucky ones."

The Titans won despite starting pitcher Lauren Gagnier's worst performance since the season opener against Stanford. Gagnier, who recently suffered from a stomach virus that also affected closer Ryan Paul, allowed hits to six of the first 10 batters he faced and gave up 12 hits and six runs in 6 2/3 innings.

"It was a frustrating deal for me because I hadn't been hit that hard all year, as far as hitting barrels of the bat," Gagnier said. "But the defense picked me up and our offense had some timely spots and we get to play tomorrow."

Clemson loaded the bases in the seventh but failed to score. Stan Widmann singled and Gagnier hit D.J. Mitchell with a pitch with two out. Adam Jorgenson (2-0) relieved and walked Adrian Casanova, but Herman Demmink grounded out to end the inning.

Tyler Harbin doubled leading off the Clemson ninth for his first hit in 12 CWS at-bats. That brought on Paul, who had arrived at the ballpark in the seventh inning after falling ill Monday night. Paul struck out Andy D'Alessio before being removed by Horton.

"He barely could make it from the bullpen to the mound because of his situation," Horton said of Paul. "He gave us one out, and it had a big bearing on the game."

Wes Roemer, scheduled to start Wednesday, came on and got Widmann to fly out and then struck out pinch-hitter Ben Hall to earn his first save.

"It's a big difference between coming in and having to start and having to close," Roemer said. "I mainly tried to calm myself down and not get hepped up."

Fullerton took the lead in the eighth after Danny Dorn's two-out grounder bounced off pitcher Daniel Moskos' leg and Widmann's throw from short to first was late. That put runners at first and third.

Cooper then reached out to punch a blooper over second base that a diving Widmann couldn't catch, allowing Blake Davis to score from third with the go-ahead run.

Clemson, which was three-hit Sunday by North Carolina's Robert Woodard, had four hits in the first inning on Tuesday and came back to tie after Fullerton had scored three runs in the top half of the inning.

The Tigers were up 6-3 in the fourth and were getting solid work from P.J. Zocchi, who pitched six shutout innings in relief of starter Jason Berken. Berken lasted just one-third of an inning, giving up three runs on four hits.

Zocchi left after Cooper's homer in the seventh. Evan McArthur tied it for Fullerton with a run-scoring single off David Kopp (6-2).

"We're just delighted to be staying alive, and I'm so proud of my warriors," said Horton, whose team scored three times in the ninth inning Sunday to beat Georgia Tech.

The elimination of Clemson (53-16) means the No. 1 seed will not advance to the championship series for the sixth time in seven years.

"This will take us a little time to recover from," Clemson coach Jack Leggett said. "There's nothing worse than the last out, last game of the year, for me personally. I know for these seniors, and for the kids on this team, it meant a lot to them to try to get to Omaha and try to play for the championship."


Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press

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