Fullerton loses coach, game to open weekend in SLO
April 17, 2014
By JOSH FRIEDMAN
The Cal State Fullerton baseball team earned itself a tongue lashing in its 8-0 loss to Cal Poly Thursday night. But, Titan players likely did not receive any verbal abuse from Head Coach Rick Vanderhook following the series opener in San Luis Obispo.
Two hours prior to the start of Thursday’s game, the Fullerton athletic department announced that it placed Vanderhook on administrative leave. School officials said they are investigating allegations against Vanderhook but made no mention of the alleged offenses.
Vanderhook has publicly berated his players several times this season. The team, now 18-14, has played uncharacteristically poor defense and has done little offensively. In the media, Vanderhook has described his squad as “bottom 10” team lacking leadership. He issued them an “F” for a midterm grade, with the exception of the pitchers.
Shortly after the announcement of Vanderhook’s suspension, the college baseball rumor mill erupted with allegations of abusive coaching tactics.
On the field Thursday, Fullerton imploded in the fourth inning. Cal Poly scored six runs in the inning, keyed by three Fullerton errors, one of which allowed four runs to score on a single to right field.
The Mustangs also scored single runs in the first and fifth innings in route to the 8-0 victory. The Poly offense produced 16 hits and knocked heralded Fullerton sophomore Justin Garza out of the game in the fourth inning.
Cal Poly ace Matt Imhof pitched six and a third scoreless innings, striking out nine and walking four. He allowed just two hits.
Imhof’s fastball sat at 89-92 mph. The junior lefty maintained his velocity over the course of the outing despite throwing 119 pitches.
Cal Poly improved to 32-5 with the win and 9-1 in the Big West Conference. The Mustangs are ranked third nationally.
Fullerton, the four-time defending Big West champion and perennial West Coast baseball power, dropped to 3-4 in the conference.
The Mustangs and Titans will play the second game of their three game series Friday at 6 p.m. at Baggett Stadium.
The game will have a pitching matchup of high school teammates. Freshman righty Slater Lee (2-1, 5.45) will start for Cal Poly against sophomore righty Thomas Eshelman (5-1, 2.08) of Fullerton. Both pitched at Carlsbad High School.