No. 12 Stanford men’s baseball (7-1) travels to Southern California tonight to avenge its conqueror in the last two NCAA tournaments, No. 25 Cal State Fullerton (4-2). Last year, however, Stanford swept the Titans at Sunken Diamond to open the 2018 season on their way to the second-highest winning percentage in program history.
Since their first meeting in 1979, the Cardinal and the Titans have met on 103 occasions, with Stanford coming out on top in 63.
“We’ve been playing Cal State Fullerton since I was a player here,” head coach David Esquer said. “That was my first indoctrination into college baseball. That’s when I really found out that we were playing for keeps; it wasn’t just gentleman baseball.”
A shortstop at Stanford from 1984-87, Esquer was a starter on the 1987 College World Series championship team. However, it was during his freshman season in 1984 when Stanford dropped two of three to eventual College World Series champion Fullerton.
“Over the years, they’ve been a great measure of where we’re at and where we need to go,” Esquer said. “I expect that to be the same this year.”
In 2017, Stanford fell to Fullerton in the NCAA regional round, suffering a 4-2 loss in former head coach Mark Marquess’ final game in charge of the program after 41 seasons. It was under Marquess that Esquer played his entire collegiate career and held his first coaching position as an assistant from 1991-96.
A year later, a new coaching staff could not prevent the Cardinal from a second consecutive elimination by the Titans, dropping two games on back-to-back nights. During the second game, a 5-2 defeat, current senior outfielder Brandon Wulff led the Cardinal with three hits, including two doubles.
This year, Wulff is coming off of a two home run outing against San Francisco on Wednesday.
“It’s just going to be another game, another series,” Wulff said. “Of course, there’s always what happened last year, and the year before, but really it’s just another series against a good opponent.”
The matchup against Stanford will be the first true series for Fullerton, who have played six different teams in six games. The Titans competed in two tournaments, the MLB Collegiate Tournament and Tony Gwynn Legacy. If it is to be a series, Stanford is looking for a sweep.
“We’re going there to win three games, not just two,” Wulff said.
The teams will open with a doubleheader Friday beginning at 5 p.m. PT concluded by a 1 p.m. PT Sunday finale.
Contact Daniel Martinez-Krams at danielmk ‘at’ stanford.edu.