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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Friday, May 23, 2003

Suzuki's having a blast with Fullerton

By Dennis Anderson
Advertiser Staff Writer

If there has not already been a sign waved at Cal State-Fullerton's Goodwin Field that reads "KURT KLUTCH," there will be at the next home game.

On Sunday night, Kurt Suzuki, a 2001 Baldwin High graduate, got his third ninth-inning, game-winning hit of the season for the Titans at Goodwin Field.

This time it was a two-out, full-count, three-run, walk-off home run that defeated third-ranked Long Beach State, 9-7, and might have clinched an NCAA first-round regional host berth for Fullerton.

On Monday, Suzuki, a catcher, was chosen Big West Conference baseball Player of the Week.

Suzuki was asked Tuesday what was going through his mind when he approached third base on his home run jaunt.

"I was just amazed at how good it felt," Suzuki said. "I was just so happy. Everybody was running from the bullpen and running out of the dugout.

"The fans (2,304 paid) were going crazy.

"I thought Tulane was pretty neat (his first ninth-inning game winner on Feb. 28), but this takes the cake."

Suzuki said that Long Beach's ace closer, Carlos Muniz (11 saves), "threw me five sliders in a row and then a fast ball with full count. I hit it pretty good."

Team spokesman Ryan Ermeling said Suzuki hit it off the screen above the left field wall.

Suzuki hit 5-for-8 in the three-game series. He is at .366 for the season and has handled 237 chances catching without an error for a 1.000 fielding average.

This week on campus, Suzuki said: "Students I don't even know have come up and congratulated me. I'm still amazed at the reaction, even today. Everyone seems to be so happy for me."

Fullerton, which was unanimous No. 1 in national rankings two weeks ago but lost three games in a row, has a 43-13 record and leapfrogged Long Beach State to No. 3 in the rankings on Monday.

First-round NCAA host sites will be announced on Sunday and pairings for the 64-team national championship tournament on Monday.

Suzuki, who shares Fullerton's starting catcher role with another sophomore, will be ready.


• Northwest Nazarene (Idaho)

Junior Joe Cabansag (Saint Louis '99 of Wai'anae) is the first-team catcher on the All-Great Northwest Conference team.

Cabansag would have won the conference batting title by one point, but a wrist injury sidelined him early in the season and he fell four at-bats short of qualifying. He hit .404 (38 for 94) in 31 games.