By LOU PONSI
Call it the most fortuitous dentist’s appointment of Colton Eastman’s life.
The Cal State Fullerton pitcher threw just nine innings early in the 2017 season before being sidelined with elbow tightness in his pitching arm.
“It wasn’t fun,” Eastman recalls. “I didn’t like it. I wasn’t used to sitting out a whole year before. It was my first major injury I ever had.”
The right hander visited the dentist roughly two months later to have his wisdom teeth removed.
His arm was healed.
“The nerves were connected somehow, and after that, my arm was feeling good,” said Eastman, who returned to the mound just in time to make a huge contribution down the stretch and in the postseason.
Eastman went to 2-0 with a 2.14 ERA and 37 strikeouts in eight appearances.
He allowed just three hits over 13 2/3 innings to win the clinching games over Stanford in the NCAA Regional ending June 3 and then over Long Beach State on June 11 in the NCAA Super Regional at Blair Field.
“After I was done with my outing, I was so nervous that I couldn’t watch the eighth inning and then I came out in the ninth to watch us win it,” Eastman said. “It was just cool to beat our rival at their place in front of a sold-out crowd.”
Eastman, a junior, is the Titans’ No. 1 starter this season.
He was listed on USA Baseball’s 55-player preseason Golden Spikes Award watch list, Baseball America’s Top 100 Prospects list and Collegiate Baseball’s Preseason All-American Second Team.
In the season opener, Eastman allowed five runs on seven hits over 4.1 innings as the Titans lost to Stanford, 5-1.
The Fresno native rebounded in his second start however, striking out six and allowing four hits over six shutout innings, but had a no-decision.
Jacob Pavletich scored on a wild pitch in the 15th inning to give the Titans a 2-1 victory over No. 24 Houston in the contest.
As a team, Fullerton is off to a slow start.
The Titans were ranked as high as 10th in preseason polls, but after a 1-7 start, have dropped off the top-25 rankings.
Through eight games, the Titans have a team batting average of .207, have scored 22 runs and have one home run.
In Sunday’s loss to Houston, Fullerton collected a season-high 15 hits, but left the bases loaded in both the eighth and ninth innings and wound up losing, 10-5, in the series finale at Goodwin Field.
Junior outfielder Ruben Cardenas (.286) went 2-for-4 with an RBI to extend his team-best hitting streak to seven games.
Sahid Valenzuela went 3-for-5, collecting three hits for the second consecutive game.
Despite a loss Tuesday to UCLA, Valenzuela boasts a three-game hit streak with seven hits over the last three contests.
The Titans travel to Tulane for a three-game series Friday through Sunday.
Source: Oc Register
Cal State Fullerton pitcher Colton Eastman could help lift team past slow start
By LOU PONSI
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