The Fullerton College baseball team was a strong favorite to represent
the Southern Region in the state tournament this year. They were ranked No. 2 in the south leading up to the postseason and were the only team to win a series against No. 1 ranked Saddleback College.
The end of the regular season was far from smooth sailing for the Hornets though. One week before the postseason Head Coach Nick Fuscardo was informed they had played with an ineligible player and had to forfeit nine wins.
With their postseason dreams in question the Hornets dug deep and took two of three games against Saddleback College to end the season, squeaking their way into the postseason.
Fullerton was done no favors by the selection committee, they were given the No. 17 seed forcing them to virtually play all road games. After handling business in the play-in game, No. 2 seed Glendale College awaited the Hornets.
Again, the Hornets took care of business like a team of destiny with two come from behind victories to sweep Glendale College.
Next up was conference rival Cypress. The Hornets took the season series winning two of three and looking to repeat.
Behind a complete game by Hornet pitcher Randall Ortiz, the Hornets took Game 1 by a score of 5-0. Having to win just one of the next two games the Hornets were shocked by the Chargers loosing both games.
After being blown out 11-4 in game two, the win or go home stage was set for game three. The Hornets and Chargers went down to the wire going extra innings, only to see the Hornets come out on the losing end.
“Obviously it isn’t what we wanted, I hurt for the boys because they gave it all they had and when that’s not enough it just hurts,” Fuscardo said.
The Hornets will be losing some talent to the next level with three players already committed to play baseball at the Division I level next season. Shane Carrier (Cal State Fullerton), Justin Row (University of South Carolina) and Laine Huffman (Long Beach State).
“This is by far been my favorite team to be apart of, I wouldn’t trade any of these guys,” Carrier said. “It didn’t end quite like we wanted but that’s baseball. It gives you the highest highs and days like today, the lowest lows.”
Carrier was the big bat in the lineup and will be missed when it comes to bringing in runs. He led the conference in RBIs with 59 on the year, he also led in home runs with 12, hits (72) and was third with a .387 batting average.
Row and Huffman were the middle of the infield for the past two seasons, which turned 34 double plays. Besides playing rock solid defense they both are key factors on offense, batting second and third respectively.
Row averaged .377 at the plate this season and hit five home runs while stealing 15 bases. Huffman managed to hit .333 and led the conference in steals with 16.
Kevin Foley and Joey Parente are the only returning starters and will be key to adding to the success of this season.
Parente was the leadoff hitter and batted .376 with 17 RBIs while scoring 44 runs. What might be most impressive, in his first season with the Hornets, Parente had 0 errors as the starting center fielder.
Foley came onto the scene later in the season, after appearing sparingly as a pitcher throughout the season he started the last 12 games at third base. He managed nine RBIs and scored 12 runs in those final 12 games.
Unlike many of his players, Fuscardo will get another shot at a state title as he will be entering his 31st season as Hornet head coach next year.
“I don’t like predicting how next years team will be, but like all my teams we will compete for championships while playing smart Hornet Baseball,” Fuscardo said.
After being stripped of those nine victories, Fullerton ends the season with a (19-23, 11-10)
record officially. On the field the Hornets were actually 28-12 this season.