It was late April, and Cal State Fullerton baseball coach Rick Vanderhook was talking about his pitching staff as it related to the eventual return of sophomore right-hander Colton Eastman.
The preseason All-American had not pitched since Feb. 25 because of elbow tightness. At the time, Vanderhook said Eastman was getting close and that he was hopeful that when he did return he would provide the team “a shot in the arm.”
Eastman has done that.
He came back May 14 on a pitch count, started and gave up one run on two hits in 2 1/3 innings on 39 pitches against UC Santa Barbara.
He took the ball again May 21 at CSUN and allowed one run on two hits in 3 1/3 innings on 52 pitches.
The best came Saturday in his third start back, when he went 4 2/3 innings, allowing just one hit while striking out eight on 79 pitches against Long Beach State.
Eastman, it appears, is back, just when the Titans (34-21) need him most. They open the playoffs Thursday in the Stanford regional against BYU (37-19). Junior Connor Seabold (10-4) figures to start that game, but Cal State Fullerton will need all its pitching to make a deep run.
“Yeah, I thought he pitched extremely well this (past) week, and the closest we’ve seen him to being who he is,” Vanderhook said of Eastman. “We’ll see where we go off of that.”
Eastman went 8-3 with a 2.24 ERA as a freshman.
BUCKLEY COOL WITH REGIONAL
Long Beach State, which won the Big West Conference title outright for the first time since 2003 – the Dirtbags tied with CSF in 2008 – will host one of the 16 regional playoff sites. The three teams joining Long Beach at Blair Field are UCLA, San Diego State and Texas.
It would seem the NCAA selection committee did the Dirtbags no favors. UCLA and San Diego State each went 2-0 against them this season in nonconference play. You won’t hear any complaints from Long Beach coach Troy Buckley, though.
“There is no crying or whining because, ‘Oh, this is too hard,’ because you’ve…