Sunday, May 19, 2013
With the Titans down 5-4 in the bottom of the ninth, Carlos Lopez delivers his second consecutive walk-off homer in as many days, this time a three-run shot to give Fullerton a 7-5 victory over UC Irvine and outright title of the Big West Conference.
Saturday, May 18, 2013
With the score tied at 2-2 in the bottom of the ninth, Carlos Lopez drills a 1-1 pitch over the right field fence to give the Titans a 3-2 victory over UC Irvine.
Thursday, May 16, 2013
UC Irvine at Titans
Friday 8 p.m. (ESPNU); Saturday 6 p.m. (FS West); Sunday 1 p.m.
Cal State Fullerton started out the season 31-4, scuffled for a bit when they went 3-3 and dropped a game in all three weekend series during that stretch, and rebounded to go on a five game winning streak after shutting out Hawaii in the final two games on the islands and returning home to sweep Long Beach State. The Titans went on the road to Riverside last weekend and extended their winning streak to seven games by bludgeoning the Highlanders 14-7 and 12-0 before dropping the final game of the series 7-6 on Mother’s Day. The win by Riverside also snapped Fullerton’s seven game winning streak in the Inland Empire at their former house of horrors.
After a scoreless first inning on Friday, Fullerton jumped on starter Dylan Stuart, who had shut them out in 2012, by scoring four runs in the top of the second when J.D. Davis singled, Michael Lorenzen was hit by a pitch, Chad Wallach bunted them over and reached first when Stuart’s throw was wide of the bag, Greg Velazquez singled in two runs and Richy Pedroza and Carlos Lopez followed later in the inning with RBI singles. The Titans added to the lead in the third when Wallach doubled and Velazquez singled him in. Fullerton scored another run in the fourth when Pedroza singled to third and went to second on an error on the throw and Lopez singled him in. The Titans finished off Stuart’s night in the sixth with four runs to make it 10-0 when Pedroza walked, Lopez singled, Matt Chapman doubled them in, Lorenzen doubled in Chapman and Wallach doubled in Lorenzen. Thomas Eshelman was the beneficiary of the scoring onslaught and threw five scoreless innings, allowing three hits and lowering his ERA to 1.42 while improving his record to 9-2. After Riverside scored two runs in the bottom of the sixth, the destruction continued in the top of the seventh when Fullerton scored four more runs after Matt Orloff singled, Pedroza walked, Lopez singled in a run, Chapman tripled in two runs and Davis doubled in a run. The Titans had seventeen hits and were led by Lopez going 4-6 with 2 R and 3 RBI, Wallach going 3-3 with 2 R and an RBI, Chapman going 2-6 with 2 R and 4 RBI, Pedroza going 2-3 with 3 R and an RBI and Velazquez going 2-4 with a R and 3 RBI.
Fullerton stayed as hot as the temperatures were in Riverside on Saturday when they scored six runs in the first inning to pretty much end the game before it had started. Pedroza led off the game against starter Ben Doucette with a walk, Chapman singled him to third, Davis singled in Pedroza and Wallach crushed one to LF for a three run HR. Velazquez kept things going with a walk, Jake Jefferies singled and Austin Diemer doubled them in to finish off the scoring in the inning. The Titans continued to bash the ball in the second when they scored five more runs to end Doucette’s night when Chapman nailed a HR to left-center, Davis singled, Lorenzen doubled, Wallach singled them in and Velazquez smacked one out to left-center for a two run HR. That was pretty much it for the scoring because Highlander reliever held Fullerton off of the scoreboard for the next five innings. Justin Garza threw five shutout innings to lower his ERA to 2.12 and improve his record to 11-0 and Jose Cardona, Tyler Peitzmeier, Willie Kuhl and Koby Gauna each threw a scoreless inning to preserve the shutout. The seventeen hits were pretty evenly distributed with thirteen batters each getting hits, Wallach getting five RBI and Velazquez and Diemer each drove in two runs.
The start of Sunday’s game was the exact opposite of the first two games with Riverside jumping on Grahamm Wiest for five runs in the first inning when nothing went right for Fullerton. Two ground ball singles and a double scored a run, a pop to short left that Pedroza lost in the sun scored another run, two more ground balls found holes through the infield to score a run, a based loaded walk scored a fourth run and a double play scored the fifth run of the inning. Wiest allowed another run in the second inning to end his day and it looked like Fullerton was in for a long game with starter Zach Varela throwing well. The Titans scored a run in the fourth when Lorenzen and Anthony Hutting singled and a ground ball to second by Jefferies was booted to score a run. The Highlanders scored a run in the fourth off of Gauna to make it 7-1 and that insurance run came in handy later in the game. Fullerton knocked Varela out of the game in the sixth when they scored two runs after Davis walked, Hutting doubled him in and Jefferies doubled in Hutting. Peitzmeier held down the fort with 3 2/3 scoreless innings to allow the Titans to continue to tighten things up. Fullerton cut the lead to 7-4 in the seventh when Pedroza led off with a single and eventually scored on a ground out by Chapman after Riverside had brought in their closer, Trevor Frank. The Titans scored two runs to cut the lead to one in the eighth when Hutting singled for his third hit of the game and went to second on a wild pitch, Jefferies singled him in and Wallach doubled in Jefferies but was left stranded there. Fullerton started the ninth with singles by Lopez and Chapman and Davis was asked to bunt to move the tying and go ahead runs into scoring position but popped up. Lorenzen followed with an infield single to shortstop to load the bases but Hutting struck out and Jefferies flied out to end the rally and the game.
Fullerton has sometimes had issues on offense against weekend pitching but that definitely wasn’t the case at Riverside as the Titans had their second best output in a series this season with 32 runs on 46 hits for a .368 average. Fullerton continued to have a patient approach at the plate and also walked twelve times in the series. The Titans were led at the plate by Wallach (5-10, HR, 10 RBI, 5 R), Chapman (5-15, HR, 6 RBI, 4 R), Pedroza (6-12 with two hits in each game, 2 RBI, 5 R) and Lopez (5-13, 3 RBI) and Lorenzen and Davis both went 4-12 and scored four runs. The freshmen starters Eshelman and Garza improved their combined record to 20-2 with ten scoreless innings and Peitzmeier threw 4 2/3 scoreless innings in his two appearances to lead the pitching staff.
Fullerton got this week started by celebrating Senior Night with a 5-2 win against #8 UCLA to win both midweek games against the Bruins this season. UCLA scored a run in the top of the first off of SR starter Michael Lopez, making the first start of his career, and the Titans had six seniors in the lineup and came out motivated to bounce back from Sunday’s loss and jumped on starter Cody Poteet for three runs in the bottom of the inning when Chapman and Lorenzen singled with two outs and Hutting pulled an 0-2 pitch down the line and into the netting above the fence for a three run HR. Fullerton scored in the third without the benefit of a hit when Chapman was hit by a pitch and stole second, Lorenzen and Hutting walked and Wallach’s ground out to shortstop scored Chapman. SR David Birosak followed Lopez and threw 2 1/3 scoreless innings and ended up picking up his first win of the season. After Gauna allowed a run in the fifth to cut the lead to 4-2, the Titans scored a run in the seventh to put the game away when Pedroza walked, moved up on a ground out and a wild pitch and scored on a single by Chapman, the first hit for Fullerton since the first inning. Peitzmeier and Davis combined to throw three scoreless innings and Lorenzen finished things off in the ninth for his Big West leading sixteenth save.
Fullerton is two games ahead of Northridge in the conference standings and has a chance to possibly clinch the Big West championship this weekend, depending on how the Matadors do at Cal Poly, but it won’t be easy because the Titans will be welcoming UC Irvine to Goodwin Field. This is an important series for Fullerton because they are looking to stay in contention for a national seed. This is also an important series for the Anteaters because their hopes for getting an at-large berth in a regional are teetering on the brink due to playing a home heavy non-conference schedule that has hurt their RPI and not playing well on the road. Fullerton has played thirteen series against Irvine since they brought their program back for the 2002 season and has won eleven of the series, including the last three, and has a 23-13 advantage in those series. An interesting thing to note is there has only been one series sweep and that occurred in 2004 in Fullerton’s most recent national championship season.
UC Irvine Anteaters (31-17, 13-8 – 3rd)
- 2012 Overall Record – 31-25
- 2012 Conference Record – 13-11 (4th)
- 2012 Post-Season – None.
- 2013 RPI/ISR – 65/28. 2012 RPI/ISR – 89/50.
- Pre-season/Current ranking – Pre-season: 30th by Collegiate Baseball, 33rd by NCBWA. Current: 24th by NCBWA, 25th by Collegiate Baseball and USA Today/Coaches Poll
- Predicted conference finish – 2nd by the Big West coaches, Baseball America, Perfect Game and Easton College Baseball.
2012 Summary and 2013 Preview
Irvine finished second to Fullerton in the regular season in 2011 but nearly went to the College World Series after winning all three of their games at the UCLA regional and taking a lead into the bottom of the ninth in the third game of their super regional at Virginia before allowing two runs with two outs, the second time in four years that the Anteaters had been eliminated in a super regional in dramatic fashion under coach Mike Gillespie. Irvine entered 2012 ranked in the mid to high twenties in most of the polls and expected to be playing in a regional for the seventh straight year but things didn’t end up that way. After winning three games in the RBI Tournament in Houston, the Anteaters went 6-8 over the next fourteen games and lost a series at home to Washington and dropped two games at Baylor. Irvine started to turn their season around when they won their final two games at Nevada and swept Dartmouth at home and Pacific at home to start Big West play. The Anteaters made their first conference road trip to Cal Poly and were swept by the Mustangs and outscored 17-3 and never really recovered, losing their next two series at home to Fullerton and on the road at Long Beach despite Andrew Thurman only allowing one hit in his win against the Titans and throwing a no-hitter against the Dirtbags. Irvine swept series at home against Riverside and UCSB but dropped their final two conference series at Northridge and at UC Davis to lose all four Big West series they played on the road on the way to finishing 4-8 over the last twelve games and missing the post-season for the first time since 2006.
Irvine had the best offense in the Big West in 2011 and led the conference in scoring, AVG, SLG and OBP but lost several key cogs from that attack and saw their average drop by 25 points and they scored a run less per game, were in the middle of the Big West in most hitting categories and were held to three runs or less 25 times. The Anteaters didn’t have much power and hit the second fewest HR’s in the conference. Irvine had good plate discipline and was second in the Big West in walks and had the second fewest strikeouts. The Anteaters were once again among the leaders in the conference in SAC’s, using bunts and hit and runs as the way to get runners moving because they didn’t have much speed in their lineup and were in the middle of the pack in the Big West in SB’s and hit into the second most DP’s in the conference.
Irvine figured they would have a good pitching staff in 2012 after losing only one starting pitcher from 2011 but that loss was a big one, Big West pitcher of the year Matt Summers. The Anteaters ran into injury problems and lost two of their starters in the first month to season ending injuries and former pitching coach and current Fullerton pitching coach Jason Dietrich did a good job of patching things together with the rotation for Irvine to end up third in the conference in ERA and was the toughest staff to hit, allowing teams to only hit .235 against them. Irvine didn’t have many power arms except for Thurman and finished in the middle of the Big West in strikeouts but were effective in pitching to contact with a solid defensive team behind them and had the best opponents’ AVG in the conference. The Anteaters allowed four runs or less 31 times.
Irvine came into this season with even lower expectations among the national media and was only mentioned in the low 30’s in a couple of the polls. The Anteaters got off to a blazing 11-2 start against a home heavy schedule with only one midweek game played on the road after they swept Baylor and won three out of four games against both Cal and Portland. Irvine had major issues playing on the road in 2012 when they only went 8-15 after their season opening weekend and those troubles resurfaced again this season when they lost the first two games of their series at BYU. The Anteaters returned home and won their series against Nebraska before being swept at Riverside to start Big West play. Irvine returned home for the next two series and swept Hawaii and won their series with Northridge before going on the road and struggling with Pacific, losing the second game 14-13 and winning the series deciding game 1-0. The Anteaters had another tight series at home with last place UC Davis, sweeping the Aggies but needing to come from behind and score in the bottom of the ninth to win two of the games. Irvine’s road issues continued at UCSB when they dropped the series to the Gauchos, who rallied for three runs in the bottom of the ninth to win the series deciding game. Irvine had a must win series at home last weekend against Cal Poly and delivered by winning the series.
Irvine lost four seniors from last season’s lineup so they thought they might get off to a slow start offensively but it was the opposite with the Anteaters scalding the ball in the first thirteen games, hitting .337 and averaging 6.5 runs per game. It has been a gradual regression to the mean since then for Irvine, who has hit .270 and averaged five runs per game over the last 35 games. The Anteaters are hitting for more power this season with 19 HR’s after hitting only eight in 2012 and are second in the Big West in SLG %. Irvine isn’t as patient at the plate without those seniors and is averaging well under three walks per game but they are still doing a good job of making contact with the second fewest strikeouts in the conference. The Anteaters are still bunting quite a bit and are second in the Big West in SAC’s but they are running even less than they did in 2012 and are seventh in the conference in SB’s and they will put runners in motion often to stay out of double plays and have hit into the second fewest in the Big West after hitting into the second most in 2012.
Irvine brought back another very experienced pitching staff after losing only one starter from 2012 and the results for the most part have been solid but they have had some issues with inconsistency, especially on the road. The Anteaters two returning starters in the weekend rotation have only gone 9-9 but a JC transfer has been lights out and gone 10-0 and is a big reason why they are in the hunt to get into a regional. Irvine’s bullpen figured to be a strength due to having so many pitchers returning but they have been up and down and have been shelled in four recent midweek games and blown some leads late. Overall, the staff has been good and they are second in the big West in ERA and opponents’ AVG. The Anteaters have starters in all three spots in the weekend rotation who are capable of striking hitters out and are second in the conference in strikeouts and all three of their starters also have excellent control and they have allowed the second fewest walks in the Big West.
- Park Factor according to Boyd’s World – 105 from ’09-’12 (increases offense by 5%) due to playing most weekend games at home. Irvine’s park plays big with lots of room in the gaps for 2B’s and 3B’s but is tough to hit HR’s out of, although the ball will carry out during the day.
- Batting Average – .288 (2nd in the Big West, 67th nationally); .289 in conference (3rd). .274 in 2012 (4/153).
- Scoring – 251 (4/126), 5.3 runs per game; 117 (3rd), 5.6 runs per game in conference. 260 (4/225), 4.6 runs per game in 2012.
- Home Runs – 19 (4/126); 10 in conference (3rd). 8 in 2012 (8/279).
- Slugging Percentage – .397 (2/74); .399 in conference (3rd). .363 in 2012 (4/192).
- On Base Percentage – .364 (3/103); .356 in conference (4th). .363 in 2012 (4/120)
- Walks – 129 (6/273), 2.7 per game; 48 (5th), 2.3 per game in conference. 199 in 2012 (2/148), 3.6 per game.
- HBP’s – 69 (1/34); 30 in conference (2nd). 70 in 2012 (3/77).
- Strikeouts – 245 (9/xx; 2nd fewest), 5.2 per game; 107 (8th), 5.1 per game in conference. 269 in 2012 (9/xx, 2nd fewest), 4.8 per game.
- Stolen Bases – 33-50 (7/239); 14-19 in conference (8th). 45-67 in 2011 (4/182).
- Sac Bunts – 56 (2/25); 23 in conference (2nd). 62 in 2012 (2/43).
Irvine went into 2012 with a very experienced infield with SR starters returning at every position except for 3B. Injuries caused some things to be shuffled around with two FR taking over behind the plate. This season, their SR catcher is back from a medical redshirt and they broke in three new starters after losing honorable mention all-conference 1B Jordan Fox, honorable mention all-conference 2B Tommy Reyes and 2nd team all-conference SS D.J. Crumlich, who was also the Big West defensive player of the year.
C/DH – SR #5 Ronnie Shaeffer (RH – .311/.343/.411, 3-34-1. ’12 – Medical redshirt – .147/.268/.147, 0-3-0. ’11 – .260/.313/.303, 1-31-2. ’10 – .318/.370/.439, 3-31-1) was 1st team All-Big West, the MVP of the UCLA regional and the national Gold Glove winner in 2011 but broke a finger on his right hand early last season and was a medical redshirt. He didn’t hit well in 2011 or early in 2012 with the BBCOR bats but has hit better this season. Shaeffer got off to a hot start as most of the Irvine players did in the first 12 games when he hit .423 with two HR’s and 13 RBI and has hit .268 since then with one HR. He has heated up again recently and hit .370 the last two weeks with five RBI. Shaeffer doesn’t walk much but does a very good job of making contact with a 9/12 BB/K ratio and usually hits fifth. He is 7-31 in his career against Fullerton.
C/DH – Soph #11 Jerry McClanahan (RH – .252/.425/.315, 1-15-0. ’12 – .276/.415/.388, 2-18-0) got off to a cold start as a FR with only two hits in his first 18 AB’s but started hitting better as he got regular playing time after Shaeffer got hurt and hit .313 for the rest of the season. He hit .400 in the first nine games this season but missed ten games with a hairline fracture in his arm and has hit .198 since returning to the lineup. McClanahan is the most patient hitter on the team and leads Irvine in walks and is also second in the Big West in HBP’s and is sixth in the conference in OBP despite his hitting struggles. He has only hit .194 in conference games and has gone 2-15 over the last two weeks with five walks. McClanahan splits time with Shaeffer at C and DH and starts once a weekend behind the plate and usually hits sixth. He went 0-6 against Fullerton in 2012.
1B – Soph #33 Connor Spencer (LH – .385/.464/.503, 0-31-2. ’12 – .306/.388/.382, 0-30-1. Going into Fullerton – .405/.489/.557, 0-14-0) was the DH as a FR and has taken over for Jordan Fox at 1B. He was among several players who was auditioning for time in the lineup as a FR and hit his way into an everyday role by getting off to a hot start and was hitting over .400 going into the Fullerton series but cooled off significantly during conference play and only hit in the .250’s the rest of the season. Spencer got off to another hot start this season and he has stayed hot, leading the Big West in AVG and OBP and he is also among the conference leaders in R, H, 2B, TB and SLG. He hits third and is a line drive hitting machine who sprays the ball gap to gap and has an excellent 20/17 BB/K ratio. Spencer went 1-11 against Fullerton in 2012.
2B – FR #1 Mikey Duarte (RH – .222/.321/.278, 0-10-1) and FR #27 Grant Palmer (RH – .215/.292/.308, 0-7-0) have been splitting time while taking over for Tommy Reyes. Duarte will usually start twice and Palmer once in weekend series. Duarte is only hitting .111 and Palmer is hitting .222 in conference games and whoever is in the lineup will usually hit ninth. Duarte is an excellent bunter and is second in the Big West with ten SAC bunts despite starting in just over half of Irvine’s games.
SS – Soph #22 Chris Rabago (RH – .268/.330/.355, 1-21-1. ’12 – .286/.365/.405, 1-12-0. Going into Fullerton – .258/.378/.323, 0-2-0 in 31 AB’s) is a versatile player who split time behind the plate with McClanahan as a FR after Shaeffer was injured but has settled into the lineup as the replacement for three year starter D.J. Crumlich at SS. He did an excellent job of making contact in 2012 and only struck out six times but has expanded his strike zone as an everyday player and has an 11/24 BB/K ratio. Rabago was one of the few hitters who got off to a slow start and only hit .216 in the first 21 games but has been hitting better since moving into the leadoff role as conference play got started and has hit .303 since then. He went 1-4 in his only start against Fullerton in 2012.
3B – Soph #25 Taylor Sparks (RH – .363/.387/.601, 9-43-5. ’12 – .202/.277/.363, 3-12-2) was expected to make an immediate impact in 2012 after being drafted in the 24th round in HS and split time between 3B and RF as a FR but struggled most of the season before hitting a little better in the last six weeks. He had a great summer and was one of the best hitters in the West Coast League and his success there has carried over into this season. Sparks got off to a decent start and was hitting .279 with one HR through the first sixteen games but has been the best hitter in the conference during Big West play and leads the conference in HR’s and hits and is second in AVG and RBI for the season and was the conference player of the week after going 7-13 against Cal Poly. He has been hitting out of his mind during Big West games with a .430 AVG, .744 SLG %, 6 HR’s and 27 RBI as the cleanup hitter and he is the player that Fullerton cannot let beat them. Sparks isn’t perfect and has issues with plate discipline and was fourth in the conference with 44 K’s in 2012 and has a poor 5/33 BB/K ratio this season. He struck out in all three AB’s in his only start against Fullerton in 2012.
Irvine only returned one starter in the outfield in CF in 2012 with a rotation of players splitting up time in LF and RF. CF Christian Ramirez was honorable mention all-conference but moved on and has been replaced by a JC transfer and there has been a rotation in LF due to injuries with things more stable in RF.
LF – SR #2 Jeff Stephens (RH – .268/.343/.309, 0-12-5. ’12 – .288/.345/.340, 0-20-2. Going into Fullerton – .323/.380/.385, 0-10-1) split time early in 2012 before becoming the regular starter as one of the hotter hitters in the lineup early in the season but cooled off during the conference schedule. He started the first sixteen games this season before breaking a hamate bone in his hand and missing the next 21 games before returning to the lineup three weeks ago and has hit .258 over the last nine games while hitting in the lower part of the batting order. Stephens does lots of little things well, is a good bunter (8 SAC’s in 2012), has pretty good speed and was a catalyst in the Cal Poly series with his straight steal of home last Friday night. He is an aggressive hitter with only seventeen walks over the last two seasons. Stephens went 0-8 with two RBI against Fullerton in 2012.
LF/2B – Soph #6 Kris Paulino (LH – .185/.349/.200, 0-6-2. ’12 – .225/.333/.288, 0-7-1) split time in RF in as a FR and got some playing time between LF and 2B when injuries hit those positions but hasn’t started since Stephens returned to the lineup. He does a good job of getting on base by walks and HBP’s with eighteen free bases in only 65 AB’s but has very little power with only one extra base hit. Paulino had a good series against Fullerton in 2012 and went 3-7 with two RBI.
Soph #7 Ryan Cooper (LH – .227 in 44 AB’s. ’12 - .250 in 28 AB’s) is the main pinch-hitting option against RHP’s because he usually makes contact with only four strikeouts. He is a good bunter and had the game winning RBI in the Friday game against UC Davis on a suicide squeeze.
FR #36 Jonathan Herkins (RH – .174 in 23 AB’s) looked like he was headed for a redshirt after not playing during the first month of the season but he started eight games while Stephens was out of the lineup and is sixth in the Big West with eight SAC’s despite his limited playing time.
CF – JC transfer #21 Dominique Taylor (RH – .301/.362/.434, 3-30-9) took over for Christian Ramirez and has made an instant impact as one of the better hitters in the lineup. He was hitting leadoff earlier in the season before settling into the second spot in the lineup during conference play. Taylor hit .360 with sixteen RBI in the first twelve games and has hit .281 with fourteen RBI since then. He has been a sparkplug as the best athlete on the team and is in the top ten in the conference in hits and doubles and leads the team in SB’s. Taylor was in a 1-18 slump before hitting .391 over the last two weeks. Taylor is an aggressive hitter and has a 13-31 BB/K ratio.
RF – SR #12 Scott Gottschling (RH – .250/.342/.383, 2-18-3. ’12 – .176/.270/.250, 0-15-2. ’11 – .282 in 39 AB’s) split time between LF and RF last season while starting 27 times but wasn’t able to hit enough to carve out more regular playing time and a major reason why was his inability to make contact and he struck out over 25% of the time. He has been starting almost every game but he is still having issues with plate discipline with a 12/35 BB/K ratio and is sixth in the Big West in strikeouts. Gottschling has been a very productive hitter lately and hit the only two HR’s of his career two weeks ago at UCSB and has nine RBI over the last two weeks while usually hitting sixth or seventh.
Fielding % – .980 (1/6) with 35 errors; .973 (4th) with 21 errors in conference. 2012 – .973 (3/41) with 58 errors. Irvine only made eight errors in their first 21 games, which was surprising considering their losses around the infield, but has started to have some issues on defense and has made 27 errors over the 26 games. Spencer does a solid job at 1B and Duarte and Palmer have only made three errors at 2B. Rabago has a good arm with average range at SS but does a good job with getting in position to make plays and hadn’t made an error going into conference play but has made seven errors since then. Sparks was below average at 3B as a FR but has become much better. Stephens, Taylor and Gottschling are solid in the OF and Taylor has good range. Taylor and Gottschling have good arms.
Stolen Base Attempts – 20-47 (2/xx); 7-18 in conference (2nd). 2012 – 26-54 (1/xx). Irvine traditionally is one of the toughest teams to run on in the Big West and that didn’t change in 2012 despite the injury to Shaeffer with Irvine starting two FR behind the plate and it hasn’t changed this season with Shaeffer returning to the lineup. Runners are 14-30 against Shaeffer and 6-13 against McClanahan.
WP’s/PB’s Allowed – 57 (9/xx); 17 in conference (7th). 2012 – 32 (1/xx). Shaeffer has had issues with blocking pitches during his career and that has been a problem during this season with Irvine allowing the second most WP’s and PB’s in the conference.
- ERA – 3.29 (2/42); 3.25 in conference (2nd). 3.25 in 2012 (3/36).
- AVG – .247 (2/36); .253 in conference (3rd). .235 in 2012 (1/6).
- HR – 10 (1/xx); 6 in conference (4th). 10 in 2012 (2/xx).
- SLG – .343 (2/xx); .350 in conference (4th). .306 in 2012 (1/xx).
- Walks – 112 (2/8), 2.4 BB’s/9 IP; 41 in conference (2nd), 2.0 BB’s/9 IP. 159 (5/40) in 2012, 2.9 per game.
- HBP – 34 (8/xx); 10 in conference (10th). 48 in 2012 (5/xx).
- OBP – .309 (2/xx). .305 in conference (2nd). .312 in 2012 (2/xx).
- Strikeouts – 367 (2/29), 7.9 K/9 IP; 170 in conference (1st), 8.2 K/9 IP. 369 (3/121), 6.7 K/9 IP in 2012.
Irvine returned an experienced rotation in 2012 after losing only one starter but injuries hit their rotation hard with two of their starters lost early in the season. They held things together to have one of the better pitching staffs in the conference and the only starter who didn’t return was Crosby Slaught.
JR #30 Andrew Thurman (RHP – 5-3, 2.98 ERA, 12 GS, 2 CG, 85 IP, 75 H, 14 BB, 72 K, .244 AVG, 1 HR, 2 HBP, 2 WP, 2-8 SB. ’12 – 8-3, 2.66 ERA, 15 GS, 4 CG, 98 IP, 68 H, 23 BB, 69 K, .268 AVG, 2 HR, 0 HBP, 1 WP, 2-5 SB. ’11 – 4-3, 3.82 ERA, 23 apps, 9 GS, 75 IP, 82 H, 21 BB, 64 K, .284 AVG, 3 HR, 5 HBP, 4 WP, 6-15 SB) was a swingman as a FR and ended up in the rotation later in the season, had a good start against UCLA in their regional and picked up Irvine’s only win in the super regional at Virginia with four effective innings out of the bullpen. He was expected to be starting on Sat’s or Sun’s in 2012 but was moved up to the front of the rotation due to injuries to a couple of starters and was 2-2 with a 4.39 ERA in his first eight starts. Thurman’s season changed with his start against Fullerton when he took a no-hitter into the ninth inning and followed that up the next weekend by throwing a no-hitter at Long Beach and was lights out over his last seven starts, going 6-1 with a 1.42 ERA. He has been solid this season but hasn’t been as dominant as expected, mixing in good starts with some average ones. Thurman had a 2.24 ERA in his first eight starts but only had a 3-3 record due to some inconsistency by Irvine’s offense. He allowed fourteen runs (13 ER) on 27 hits in 19 1/3 over his next three starts at Pacific, vs. UC Davis and at UCSB before rebounding to have his best start of the season last week against Cal Poly when he threw a complete game and held the Mustangs to a run on four hits with no walks and seven strikeouts. Thurman has been much better at home, where he is 4-1 with a 1.79 ERA and opponents have hit .204 off of him, than he has been on the road, where he is 1-2 with a 5.92 ERA where opponents have hit .333 against him. He has outstanding control and has allowed two walks or less in ten of his starts with three walks in each of the other two starts. Thurman’s fastball was sitting around 90 last season and he has seen a spike in how hard he is throwing and it now sits in the 92-94 range with occasional bumps up to 95-96 and he has an excellent straight change to go along with a curveball and a slider that he uses with two strikes as swing and miss pitches and he is expected to be drafted in the first two rounds in June.
JC transfer #13 Andrew Morales (RHP – 10-0, 1.79 ERA, 15 apps, 11 GS, 80 IP, 68 H, 17 BB, 71 K, .233 AVG, 1 HR, 5 HBP, 11 WP, 3-6 SB) was the JC state pitcher of the year in 2012 after going 12-1 for Rio Hondo, who had one of the best teams in the area last season. He has made an immediate impact since being moved into the rotation after making a few appearances out of the bullpen. Morales has allowed two runs or less in nine of his starts and has allowed no runs in five of them. He is second in the Big West in wins and ERA, third in AVG and fifth in strikeouts. Morales had a streak of 26 1/3 scoreless innings before allowing seven runs in starts against UC Davis and UCSB before bouncing back with his best start of the season in the series deciding win against Cal Poly when he had ten strikeouts in the first four innings on his way to throwing seven scoreless innings to win the Big West pitcher of the week award for the third time this season. He is a strike thrower who has allowed two walks or less in ten of his eleven starts and relies on a sinking fastball to get hitters to pound the ball into the ground and a slider as his swing and miss pitch with two strikes. Because Morales is usually trying to get hitters to pound the ball into the ground and chase pitches in the dirt, he leads the conference with eleven wild pitches. He has had the most success on the road of Irvine’s three starters, where he is 2-0 with a 2.67 ERA and opponents are hitting .277 against him, and has been lights out at home, where he is 8-0 with a 1.35 ERA and opponents have hit .209 off of him.
JR #44 Matt Whitehouse (LHP – 4-6, 3.30 ERA, 14 apps, 12 GS, 2 CG, 79 IP, 68 H, 15 BB, 74 K, .234 AVG, 1 HR, 11 HBP, 9 WP, 3-6 SB. ’12 – Medical redshirt – 0-2, 4.15 ERA, 3 GS, 13 IP, 16 H, 3 BB, 17 K, .302 BA, 0 HR, 3 HBP, 2 WP, 1-3 SB. ’11 – 4-0, 2.12 ERA, 23 apps, 12 GS, 72 IP, 54 H, 15 BB, 63 K, .208 BA, 1 HR, 3 HBP, 7 WP, 3-6 SB; ’10 – 0-0, 4.50 ERA, 10 apps, 6 IP) was pitching out of the bullpen and making midweek starts for the first half of 2011 before moving into the weekend rotation and threw very well during the conference season and ended up finishing second in the Big West in ERA and third in AVG. He was expected to contend for conference pitcher of the year honors in 2012 but came out of his third start at Baylor with a sore shoulder and ended up taking a medical redshirt. Whitehouse has pitched in some bad luck this season and Irvine is 2-7 over his last nine starts and when he has pitched well, they usually haven’t hit. He is fifth in the conference in AVG and second in the Big West in strikeouts despite not being a hard thrower with a mid-upper 80’s fastball due to an outstanding slider he uses as his swing and miss pitch with two strikes and also has a good changeup. Whitehouse has good control and has only allowed more than two walks in one of his starts but will pitch inside and is fourth in the conference with 11 HBP’s. He has allowed four runs or more in three of his last four starts and will swap spots in the rotation with Morales this weekend and start on Sunday. Whitehouse has been excellent at home, where he is 4-3 with a 2.17 ERA and teams have hit .200 against him, but has had his issues on the road, where he is 0-3 with a 6.55 ERA and opponents have hit .308 off of him.
Irvine expected to have a good bullpen due to returning their closer and so many pitchers from 2012 and only losing a couple of their set-up men. Their relievers and midweek guys have been inconsistent with blown saves at home against UCLA and at UCSB on home runs and meltdowns at Pacific, at San Diego State, at UCLA and at home against San Diego on Wednesday night and they are a big reason why Irvine is 9-9 over the last eighteen games.
SR #55 Race Parmenter (RHP – 2-3, 3.54 ERA, 7 saves, 18 apps, 20 IP, 13 H, 8 BB, 20 K, .188 BA, 1 HR, 1 HBP, 3 WP, 1-2 SB. ’12 – 1-2, 2.28 ERA, 8 saves, 22 apps, 28 IP, 23 H, 11 BB, 28 K, .232 BA, 1 HR, 3 HBP, 0 WP, 2-2 SB) emerged from the group of relievers to end up being the closer in 2012, has continued in that role and is fifth in the Big West in saves. He was throwing well earlier in the season but has started to have trouble and allowed the game tying run against Northridge, two runs in extra innings in the first loss to UCLA and three runs in the Sunday game at UCSB, with the Gauchos winning the game and the series on a walk-off two run HR. Parmenter has a fastball that will touch 90 and a splitter that is tough on RH hitters. He made two appearances against Fullerton in 2012, throwing two scoreless innings and had the save in Thurman’s start when he took a no-hitter into the ninth inning.
JR #16 Jimmy Litchfield (LHP – 1-0, 1.73 ERA, 23 apps, 26 IP, 19 H, 8 BB, 15 K, .200 BA, 2 HR, 0 HBP, 1 WP, 1-2 SB. ’12 – 3-2, 3.60 ERA, 1 save, 29 apps, 2 GS, 45 IP, 43 H, 13 BB, 30 K, .251 BA, 0 HR, 2 HBP, 2 WP, 3-6 SB. ’11 – 2-1, 2.89 ERA, 3 saves, 34 apps, 44 IP, 43 H, 7 BB, 34 K, .253 BA, 5 HR, 1 HBP, 1 WP, 1-1 SB) has been a solid reliever and among the Big West leaders in appearances in each of the last three seasons due to his ability to make multiple appearances on the weekends. He isn’t a hard thrower with a low 80’s fastball and will rely on throwing changeups and curves to get batters to hit the ball into the ground. Litchfield has allowed five runs over eleven innings in his last seven appearances. In 2011 he allowed three runs in 2/3 IP against Fullerton and in 2012 he walked the only batter he faced in Thurman’s start and came back the next day to start the game and allowed two runs on four hits in 2 2/3 IP.
JR #28 Kyle Hooper (RHP – 1-3, 4.76 ERA, 17 apps, 3 GS, 40 IP, 39 H, 12 BB, 34 K, .264 BA, 2 HR, 1 HBP, 7 WP, 3-6 SB. ’12 – Medical redshirt – 3-1, 1.30 ERA, 5 apps, 3 GS, 1 CG, 28 IP, 17 H, 3 BB, 28 K, .173 BA, 1 HR, 0 HBP, 0 WP, 1-3 SB. ’11 – 3-0, 4.06 ERA, 17 apps, 6 GS, 44 IP, 49 H, 17 BB, 31 K, .290 BA, 2 HR, 5 HBP, 9 WP, 2-10 SB; ’10 – 0-0, 7.61 ERA, 18 apps, 24 IP, 45 H, 4 BB, 14 K) was mostly a long reliever during his first two seasons despite having one of the better arms on the staff because of his inability to command his pitches. Hooper started to refine his pitches after his Soph season and after making a couple of strong appearance out of the bullpen was moved into the weekend rotation and had two excellent starts before leaving his third start with an elbow injury and missed the rest of the season. He has been inconsistent and was throwing better lately, throwing three scoreless innings against Cal Poly last Saturday, before having a bad start against San Diego on Wednesday night when he allowed five runs on eight hits in 1 2/3 IP.
JR #4 Mitch Merten (RHP – 4-1, 4.10 ERA, 2 saves, 16 apps, 3 GS, 26 IP, 30 H, 11 BB, 28 K, .309 BA, 3 HR, 2 HBP, 2 WP, 2-6 SB. ’12 – 1-2, 4.13 ERA, 1 save, 22 apps, 33 IP, 29 H, 18 BB, 27 K, .252 BA, 1 HR, 6 HBP, 2 WP, 0-2 SB) only made one appearance in 2011 but became one of the more reliable options in middle relief last season despite having control issues. He missed the non-conference part of the season with a shoulder injury and has pitched quite a bit since returning and hasn’t been as effective after throwing pretty well after returning. He is primarily a fastball-changeup pitcher with an occasional slider. Merten allowed a hit and a walk in 2/3 IP against Fullerton last season.
JR #34 Evan Brock (RHP – 2-1, 3.18 ERA, 15 apps, 5 GS, 34 IP, 35 H, 9 BB, 27 K, .260 BA, 0 HR, 3 HBP, 5 WP, 2-5 SB. ’12 – 2-1, 2.12 ERA, 18 apps, 2 GS, 34 IP, 22 H, 11 BB, 25 K, .186 BA, 1 HR, 3 HBP, 1 WP, 3-3 SB. ’11 – Medical redshirt. ’10 – 6-4, 3.14 ERA, 1 save, 20 apps, 6 GS, 63 IP, 34 H, 30 BB, 62 K, .162 BA, 4 HR, 5 HBP, 4 WP, 4-9 SB) became one of Irvine’s best SP’s down the stretch in 2010 but injured his shoulder that fall and was a medical redshirt in 2011. He was slow bouncing back from that injury last season and his pitches didn’t have the same life they had prior to his surgery but he started to throw better in conference play with his appearance against Fullerton, when he threw three scoreless innings with five strikeouts against the Titans. Brock has been inconsistent while making several midweek starts earlier in the season and has only made three appearances in Big West games.
JR #50 Phillip Ferragamo (RHP – 1-0, 8.36 ERA, 9 apps, 14 IP, 18 H, 7 BB, 17 K, .340 BA, 0 HR, 5 HBP, 5 WP, 2-4 SB. ’12 – 3-5, 3.72 ERA, 1 save, 19 apps, 8 GS, 65 IP, 64 H, 16 BB, 40 K, .259 BA, 2 HR, 7 HBP, 3 WP, 2-3 SB. ’11 – 2-0, 2.03 ERA, 19 apps, 27 IP, 23 H, 7 BB, 24 K, .237 BA, 0 HR, 7 HBP, 0 WP, 0-1 SB) is one of the biggest players you will see on a baseball diamond at 6’8”, 260 and was effective out of the bullpen in middle relief as a FR and was in a similar role in 2012 before being moved into the weekend rotation due to injuries to Hooper and Whitehouse. He started off the season in the doghouse and was suspended and hasn’t thrown well, allowing eight runs in his last two appearances. Ferragamo pitched in relief against Fullerton last season and allowed three runs (2 ER) on six hits in 4 2/3 IP and took the loss in the series deciding game on J.D. Davis’ two run HR.
Soph #40 Sam Moore (RHP – 0-0, 5.06 ERA, 11 apps, 11 IP, 10 H, 4 BB, 7 K, .238 BA, 0 HR, 1 HBP, 2 WP, 1-2 SB. ’12 – 0-0, 6.75 ERA, 4 apps, 4 IP, 3 H, 0 BB, 4 K) has only made three appearances in Big West games but threw three scoreless innings against Northridge in one of them.
There are some strong trends that factor pretty heavily into this series. Fullerton has won 25 of their last 26 weekend series going back to the second series of 2012. Irvine has lost seven of their last eight weekend series that they have played on the road. As mentioned earlier, the Titans have won eleven of the thirteen series these teams have played since 2002 and the only two series that Irvine won were in seasons when they were the better team. Irvine is 36-3 in series opening games in conference series over the last five seasons, including winning the first game of each series against Fullerton in the last three seasons before seeing the Titans respond by winning the final two games of each of those series. Finally, the losing team in this series has scored four runs or less in each of the last fourteen games.
Fullerton has sometimes had trouble with hitting weekend pitching but has had a patient approach that has allowed them to put extra runners on base in order to put together rallies and be productive enough to scratch out some runs. That philosophy will be put to the test this weekend against an Irvine starting staff that doesn’t give out too many free bases. The Anteaters try to string together hits to put together rallies and there don’t figure to be too many walks handed out when they are hitting because they are an aggressive team and Fullerton walks the fewest batters per game in the country.
Fullerton has had the best pitching staff in the conference all season long, both in the rotation and the bullpen, and their pitchers have been especially effective at home most of the time. Irvine’s rotation has been close to the equal of the Titans but hasn’t been nearly as good on the road and their bullpen has been very inconsistent.
Both teams are very good defensively and rarely give away outs. Fullerton has had occasional mental lapses during midweek games earlier in the season but when it has been crunch time during conference games, the Titans have had the best defense in the Big West conference. Irvine’s defense was outstanding during the non-conference schedule and has been solid during conference play but they have had some issues recently.
Irvine is desperate to pull off an upset this weekend to try to stay in contention to get into a regional. Fullerton is motivated to keep plugging away and moving towards a conference championship and a national seed. The Anteaters have been inconsistent, playing .500 ball over the last eighteen games, and have not been a good road team the last couple of seasons. Fullerton has been very consistent in finding ways to win series every weekend this season. The Titans will definitely be tested this weekend but with the way things have gone for these teams this season and the way that they have gone in this series over the years, this looks like it should be a tight series that Fullerton will find a way to win.
Tuesday, May 14, 2013
Titans at UCR: Won 14-7 (Friday), Won 12-0 (Saturday), Lost 7-6 (Sunday)
By Don Hudson
The Cal State Fullerton Titans went on the road and won another Big West Conference series, extending their winning streak to seven games by beating the UC Riverside Highlanders handily on Friday and Saturday evenings before dropping the finale on Sunday. Despite the loss on Mothers Day, the Titans gained a game in the standing over the weekend over the second-place Cal State Northridge Matadors, who lost two-of-three at home against the UC Santa Barbara Gauchos.
The Titans continue in contention for a national seed in the upcoming NCAA tournament selection process, on the strength of: no lost series; 11-4 record against RPI Top 50 teams; 23-4 road record; #9 in RPI, but leading country in “adjusted wins” in system that applies 0.7 factor for home wins and 1.3 for road wins; and probable conference champion. As we’ve seen before, it can all go up in smoke without a strong finish, but the Titans are in about as strong a position as could possibly be for a team outside the elite “BCS” conferences.
Game 1: Titans 14, UC Riverside Highlanders 7
In a pitching match between the Titans’ righty Thomas Eshelman and the Highlanders’ lefty Dylan Stuart, the Titans jumped ahead with four runs in the second inning. J.D. Davis led off with a single, with Michael Lorenzen then hit by a pitch. Chad Wallach sacrificed both runners along and reached base when Stuart’s throw to first was wide of the bag. Greg Velazquez gave the Titans a 2-0 lead with a two-run single. Two outs later, Pedroza singled to drive in Wallach and Lopez singled to drive in Velazquez and make it 4-0.
|Eshelman's short and sweet outing|
Meanwhile, Eshelman was coasting along, allowing an occasional base-runner, but twice escaping with the aid of double-plays, including a nifty 4-6-3 twin-killing with the runner going on the pitch in the fourth inning.
The decision to give Eshelman a short day of work became a no-brainer when the Titans put up four more runs in the top of the sixth, with Stuart left on the mound as the ‘sacrificial Friday lamb’ to preserve the bullpen for the remaining two games. Pedroza drew a one-out walk, followed by a single by Lopez. Matt Chapman then hit the ball over the centerfielder’s head for a two-run double before scoring on a two-out double by Lorenzen. Wallach’s double drove in Lorenzen to make it 10-0, essentially ending the night for both Stuart and Eshelman.
With a 10-0 lead, the Titans removed Eshelman after five shutout innings and gave their bullpen some much-needed work. Michael Lopez was touched up for two runs in the bottom of the sixth on a single, double and a pair of groundouts.
The Titans made it 14-2 with four runs in the top of the seventh. Matt Orloff led off with a single, advanced on a walk to Pedroza and scored on an RBI single by Lopez. Chapman followed with a two-run triple past diving rightfielder David Andriese and scored on a double by Davis.
With the game easily in hand, the Titans played sloppy baseball for the final innings. The bullpen gave up seven runs (including three unearned) and eight hits in four innings of work. Lopez was followed by Willie Kuhl, David Birosak and Jose Cardona, who struck out two batters sandwiched around a two-run single to end the game.
Eshelman improved his record to 9-2. Lopez led the 17-hit attack with four singles and three RBI. It was great to see Lopez jump on the first pitch for each of his hits and burn ‘the book’ on him that he always takes the first pitch. Wallach was 3-for-3 before making an early exit. Pedroza, Chapman, Davis and Velazquez each had two hits, with Velazquez equaling his career high with three RBI.
Game 2: Titans 12, UC Riverside Highlanders 0
The Titans jumped all over UCR starter Ben Doucette for eleven runs in the first two innings and rode the strong pitching of Justin Garza and a quartet of relievers in shutting out the Highlanders, 12-0. Ten of the eleven runs in the first two innings were scored with two outs.
|Garza improves to 11-0|
Velazquez walked and Jake Jefferies singled before Austin Diemer laced a bases-clearing double – it should have been a triple, but Diemer was called out at third on an absurd call – twice in two nights Diemer was obviously safe but called out when he had already popped up and was dusting himself off.
The Highlanders posed a mild threat in the bottom of the first when they got a one-out walk and single against freshman righty Garza, but he struck out the clean-up hitter and got the final out on a foul-out to catcher Wallach.
Doucette appeared to have settled down in the second when he retired the first two Titans before Chapman launched a towering home run over the screen in leftfield – Happy birthday, Mom!
Davis followed with a single and Lorenzen hit a double on a chopper over the third-baseman’s head. Okay, I’m certain Coach Smith learned his lesson and won’t pitch to Wallach, who has a single, two doubles and home run so far in four at-bats in the series, with an open base. You know that definition of insanity? They pitched to Wallach and he scalded a base hit to drive in both runners.
Have you ever thought you were saying something to yourself only to realize it was spoken aloud? I was standing next to the UCR dugout behind third-base when my thought somehow slipped out: “Why the (bleep) are you pitching to that guy with an open base?” Just as I said it, a couple of Riverside players jogged by headed towards the bullpen. As they heard it, one nodded and the other muttered “No shit.”
It may have been a moot point as Velazquez followed Wallach with a home run to make it 11-0.
|A 5-RBI day for Wallach|
The Titans scored their final run in the top of the ninth on a double by A.J. Kennedy, a walk to Orloff and an RBI single by Pedroza.
Twelve different players got at least one of the Titans’ 17 hits, with two each by Wallach, Pedroza and Chapman. The sixth spot in the order was very productive: two hits, a home run and five RBI by Wallach; a pinch-single by Nico Darras; and the double by Kennedy.
Garza improved his record to 11-0 with five innings of shutout work, allowing just three hits.
Game 3: UC Riverside Highlanders 7, Titans 6
(Photo Galleries: Game / Mother's Day)
In a recent article, we quoted the famous words of Senkichi Awaya (mayor of Hiroshima in 1945): “What the f*@& was that?!!!” The same could be said about the first inning on Sunday, in a game played on a miserably hot day with no clouds to give even a brief respite of shade.
After feasting on lefthanded pitching for two nights, scoring 26 runs (combined) and banging out 17 hits each game, you knew it would be different Sunday against a righthander, Zach Varela, who came in with a record of 3-0 and 0.92 ERA. Reduced hitting by the Titans was expected – but the Highlanders coming out of the gate with six straight hits and a walk against the Titans’ Grahamm Wiest was completely unexpected.
It looked like “same old, same old” when Pedroza led off the game with a single, but Varela worked out of it scorelessly.
Devyn Bolasky led off with a chopper over the head of third-baseman Chapman for a single – have I mentioned how awful the infield is at the Plex? Joe Chavez followed with a groundball single into rightfield that advanced Bolasky to third. Clayton Prestridge followed with a groundball double between Chapman and the third-base bag to make it 1-0.
With two runners in scoring position, the cleanup hitter, David Andriese, lifted a routine pop-up into shallow leftfield. The runner on third retreated and was not going to attempt to score, assuming the ball would be caught for just the first out. But the ball was not caught, as shortstop Pedroza was blinded by the blazing sun and the high sky in the 951: it fell harmfully for an RBI single to make it 2-0.
Francisco Tellez then found a hole between Lopez and the first-base bag with a groundball single to load the bases. Kyle Boudreau then grounded a single through the 5-6 hole to make it 3-0. The fourth run scored on a walk to Nick Vilter and the fifth on a 4-6-3 double-play.
The Highlanders took it to the Titans for another run in the second on a hit-batsman, throwing error by catcher Jared Deacon, stolen base and RBI groundout. I liked the confidence displayed by the Titans coaching staff, playing the infield back in the second inning, already trailing 5-0. Although the late-inning comeback fell short, it showed a calm demeanor and they didn’t hit the panic button.
Trailing 6-0, the Titans finally got on the board in the top of the fourth with an unearned run against Varela. Lorenzen reached on a bad-hop (go figure) infield single, went to third on a single by Anthony Hutting and scored on a groundball (reached on error) by Jefferies. Varela escaped greater harm by inducing an inning-ending double-play ball.
But the Highlanders stayed tough, responding with a run of their own in the bottom of the inning off reliever Koby Gauna on a triple by Chavez and an infield groundout to make it 7-1. Even in the fourth inning, the Titans demonstrated confidence in their offense by playing the infield back.
Peitzmeier entered the game in the bottom of the fifth and was sensational, throwing 3-2/3 innings of scoreless relief, giving his teammates an opportunity to chisel away at the UCR lead.
The Titans cut the deficit to 7-3 in the top of the sixth on a walk to Davis and two-out RBI hits by Hutting (double) and Jefferies (single). After Wallach (who had entered the game after Deacon was injured running to first-base) walked, Coach Smith replaced Varela with southpaw Mark Garcia. The Titans countered with pinch-hitter Velazquez, who grounded out to end the threat.
Pedroza led off the seventh with a single and advanced on a wild pitch and a groundout. With the dangerous right-handed heart of the batting order coming up (Chapman, Davis, Lorenzen, Jefferies, Wallach), the Highlanders went to their righthanded closer, Trevor Frank, and decided to keep the game in his hands. Chapman grounded out, with Pedroza scoring to make it 7-4.
The Titans drew to within one run with a pair in the top of the eighth. Hutting singled, went to second on a wild pitch and scored on an RBI single by Jefferies. Wallach then crushed another shot into the gap in left-centerfield to make it 7-6. Wallach remained in the game as the potential tying run with one out, but after Clay Williamson flied out, Diemer was sent in to pinch-run. Pedroza struck out swinging to end the rally, after a 3-1 pitch that looked about ten inches outside was called strike two.
Even though Frank had entered in the seventh and the Titans had scored in three consecutive innings, there was never a thought of bringing in any other pitcher – nobody picked up a ball in the UCR bullpen.
Lopez led off the ninth and blooped a single into “no man’s land” in leftfield. Chapman squared to bunt the potential tying run into scoring position – then drew back and perfectly executed the “slash” play, driving a hard groundball base-hit past the charging infielders.
This is when baseball strategy is at its best. You’ve got your clean-up hitter at the plate in Davis, who swings a great bat but is not often called on to bunt (two sacrifices in 46 games played). The “baseball book” says to play for the tie on the road and the win at home in this situation. You have two very skilled bunters (Keegan Dale and Matt Orloff) available, but if you bring them to the plate, all uncertainty is removed. It is further complicated by Davis also being the pitcher, so the designated-hitter was eliminated when he relieved Peitzmeier in the bottom of the eighth. More complication? Your options with closer Lorenzen (in the event you tie the score or take the lead) are also impacted by having already having removed outfielders Austin Kingsolver and Velazquez for pinch-hitters. It’s what makes baseball so incredible.
Davis fouled off a bunt attempt, squared to bunt and took a ball, showed bunt when the pitcher stepped off the rubber to check the runners and finally popped out on a bunt attempt. In a game that is remarkably easier to play, coach and umpire from up in the bleachers, I would have let him swing away.
Lorenzen and Frank then battled, with Michael finally reaching on an infield single smothered by the shortstop – the third hit of the inning for the Titans. I felt great about our chances, with two clutch hitters due up, Hutting and Jefferies.
But Frank battled with the bases loaded and one out. He threw six straight strikes to Hutting, including four that were fouled off, before slipping the seventh pitch past him for a called third strike. Jefferies then flew out to centerfield to end the game.
Hutting had three of the dozen Titans’ hits, with Pedroza, Lorenzen and Jefferies having two each. Jefferies had three RBI. Wiest (8-3) took the loss, going just two innings and allowing six earned runs on seven hits and a walk. It was his shortest outing as a starting pitcher in his Titans career.
So what did we learn out in the 951 this weekend?
Somebody at UC Riverside has a sense of humor. In the Saturday boxscore under “Weather,” where they usually post the game-time temperature and whether it is sunny, cloudy or precipitous, they listed “really, really hot.”
When you score 32 runs on 46 hits in a three-game series, some batting averages are going to go up. Including freshmen Darras and Kennedy each going 1-for-1, there were twelve players hit .333 or better for the series. Wallach led the way with a monster weekend: 6-for-7 (.857) with a slugging percentage of 1.714, including two singles, three doubles and a home run. The only out he made was a warning-track flyball.
Pedroza (6-for-12) and Velazquez (3-for-6) each batted .500, with Velazquez contributing five RBI and a home run. Jefferies batted .429 (3-for-7 with 3 RBI) while Lopez hit .385 (5-for-13 with 3 RBI). Five players hit .333: Chapman (5-for-15 with double, triple, home run and five RBI); Davis and Lorenzen (both 4-for-12); Hutting (3-for-9) and Orloff (2-for-6).
I’m not sure what was more brutal: Mothers Day at the home of Pamela and “Jellybean” Joe Bryant or getting fried like an egg in the metal bleachers watching the first inning of the game on Sunday. Let’s call it a toss-up. It was just one of those games. For a groundball pitcher like Wiest, most days you have a lot of balls hit within range of an infielder and there are some that find a hole. Other days, you have balls hit hard but right at the fielders. This was that odd day when every groundball found a hole – give credit to the Highlanders for hitting the ball down and hard on that booby-trapped infield of theirs.
As bad as the start of the game was and how exasperating it was to leave the bases loaded in the ninth, there were some very encouraging things that happened that day. Even after digging themselves a deep hole, the Titans fought hard and nearly climbed all the way out. The relief pitching was stellar, particularly Peitzmeier – maybe growing up pitching in the sweltering Midwest summers made him the perfect man for the assignment. Hutting had a big day at the plate – he seems to be “Mr. Sunday” recently.
More than the loss, I was concerned about how the Titans lit up left-handed pitching all weekend but struggled against right-handers.
A few observations:
• The calculation treats wild pitches as mathematically equivalent to walks and hit-batsmen, which is a debatable premise: wild pitches advance runners but don’t put men on base, unlike walks and HBP. But one can argue a wild pitch may be more damaging than a walk or HBP. A walk or HBP may be strategic and can set up a double-play, while there is nothing positive about a wild pitch, which can allow up to three runners to advance and can take away double-play situations without ever setting up a DP. (Since I was the one out there baking in the sun on Sunday, I get to make the rules.)
• Even the term “wild” can be a misnomer. To me, “wildness” equates to pitches that arrive at unintended locations. While no pitch is released with intent to arrive at the backstop, many pitches that arrive in the dirt out in front of the plate were intended for that exact location in order to get the batter to chase an unhittable pitch, with greater susceptibility to wild pitches an intrinsic byproduct of that pitch selection. Similarly, hit-batsmen are often strategic and not always indicative of wildness.
• There was not data available to subtract intentional walks, but the Titans rarely deploy that maneuver, so it should not skew the metrics in any substantive manner.
• There is not an exact correspondence between WTF and ERA in measuring pitching effectiveness….but there certainly is some degree of correlation. I love quirky statistical anomalies like Lopez’s and Birosak’s WTF being identical to their ERA. It’s also just one more tangible metric of how great Eshelman has been – his WTF of 0.71 is sick! It also shows the control displayed by Gauna and Peitzmeier, who sometimes tend to fly under the radar. I also like the reflection on Garza’s control: he lights up radar guns and strikes out a lot of hitters, but he should also be recognized for excellent control.
• You can’t draw much meaning from small data sizes – especially with small samples sizes of innings pitched. For pitchers with fewer than 10 innings, it is essentially statistically insignificant. But I think it is very noteworthy that WTF paints a stark contrast between the overall Titans’ pitching and their opponents’: Titan pitchers allow just 2.73 walks, HBP and wild pitches per nine innings, while their opponents allow 7.20. The WTF gap (2.73 vs. 7.20) may be more revealing than ERA (2.54 vs. opponents’ 5.45.)
UC Irvine has a team ERA of 3.29 and WTF of 4.19 (as of Monday), so both are appreciably better than the average Titans opposing pitching staff. Expect intense, well-pitched battles this weekend at Goodwin Field.
|Baking and whittling in the 951|
If it wasn’t for the terrific $2.50 hot dogs, free refills on soft drinks and that cool old guy that sits in the stands and whittles every game, I wouldn’t have anything nice to say about that place. The dude playing the bagpipes was pretty cool too.
Hypothetically speaking…if you were an umpire, how would your calls be impacted by a blowout score? I’ve watched a few games over the years and even umpired a couple when I wore a younger man’s clothes. I think it is perfectly fine – even expected – that you will open up your strike zone in a blowout. But I never found it right to intentionally blow safe/out or foul/fair calls just to get the game over faster. Sure, you supersede the “tie goes to the runner” premise to get outs on close plays when the score is lopsided – but I never wanted to embarrass myself with absurd, blatantly wrong calls just to get the game over. There were a couple of calls Friday and Saturday nights that would have been embarrassing to make even if the score was 50-0 at the time. What are your thoughts?
Haven’t these playoffs been amazing this year? Growing up in the era of George “Punch” Imlach, Hector “Toe” Blake, Lorne “Gump” Worsley, Gordie Howe, Bobby Hull, Eddie Giacomin, Bobby Orr, Phil Esposito, Jean Beliveau, Yvan Cournoyer, etc., there is nothing better than a playoff series between “Original Six” teams. The Bruins’ shocking comeback from a 4-1 third period deficit to beat the Toronto Maple Leafs in overtime was amazing – the first time a team ever overcame a three-goal third-period deficit in a seventh game of a Stanley Cup playoff series. Now it’s on to a series against the New York Rangers, another of the Original Six. The Rangers have a hot goaltender, which can be the great equalizer in a seven-game series. And the match-up between the Chicago Blackhawks and Detroit Red Wings (both Original Six teams) renews one of the greatest sports rivalries – that should be a riveting series.
I’m really looking forward to Senior Day at home on Tuesday in the game against UCLA. It will be very interesting how the deployment of seniors affects the line-up and pitching selections in this game, which has significant RPI impact potential for both teams as they near the finish line and look to strengthen their resumes for post-season seeding and host site selection. I found it fascinating how the coaches prioritized winning the conference game on Sunday and didn’t “hold back” their bullpen stalwarts (Gauna, Peitzmeier and Davis) against Riverside to set up the pitching for the UCLA game. I understand and agree with the strategy – they needed to push the pedal-to-the-metal to give them breathing space in the BWC and put them in position to clinch before playing Northridge the final weekend series.
Thursday, May 9, 2013
Titans at UC Riverside
Friday 6 p.m.; Saturday 6 p.m.; Sunday 1 p.m.
Cal State Fullerton started out the season winning 31 of their first 35 games and swept six of their first eight series before things toughened up a bit and the Titans lost a game in each of the next three series but still won all three of them. Fullerton was 3-3 over a six game stretch after losing the first game in Hawaii but they responded by shutting out the Rainbows in each of the next two games. The Titans returned home to Goodwin Field last weekend to face their long-time rivals from Long Beach State and swept the Dirtbags by scores of 3-2, 2-1 and 9-4 to run their winning streak to five games, win all six games against Long Beach this season and improve their record against the Dirtbags to 22-3 over the last five seasons.
As has often been the case this season, Fullerton got out to a lead in the first inning with the help of some poor defense from Long Beach. After Thomas Eshelman struck out the side in the top of the first, Richy Pedroza walked to get things started in the bottom of the inning against Shane Carle, stole second and advanced to third when the throw went into CF, J.D. Davis walked and Pedroza scored when Michael Lorenzen’s ground ball to third was thrown away to put runners on second and third. The Dirtbags escaped further damage when Davis was thrown out at the plate trying to score on a fly out to RF. Long Beach manufactured a run in the top of the third on a single by Colton Vaughn, a SAC bunt and a two out single and as the Titans have done many times, they responded by scoring in the bottom of the inning to retake the lead when Carlos Lopez doubled and Davis doubled him in. Vaughn tripled to lead off the top of the fifth and Eshelman had some uncharacteristic wildness when he hit his second batter and walked his second batter of the season but escaped without allowing a run when he struck out the dangerous 3-4 duo of Juan Avila and Ino Patron to end the inning and Austin Kingsolver led off the bottom of the inning by launching a HR into the Arboretum for the first homer of his career at home to extend the lead to 3-1 and the Titans missed an opportunity to pad the lead when Pedroza followed with a double and was bunted to third by Carlos Lopez but was left stranded there. The Dirtbags cut into the lead in the seventh when Vaughn doubled for his third hit of the game, was bunted to third and scored on a SF. Fullerton had another chance to score in the bottom of the inning when Pedroza walked, Lopez doubled him to third and Lorenzen walked to end Carle’s night but Matt Chapman curiously attempted to bunt for a hit and popped the bunt to the catcher to end the inning. Koby Gauna pitched a 1-2-3 inning in relief of Eshelman in the eighth and Lorenzen finished off the game with a 1-2-3 ninth for his Big West leading fourteenth save. Eshelman improved his record to 8-2 by allowing two runs on seven hits and a walk with six strikeouts in seven innings. Lopez had two doubles and a run, Davis had a double, two walks and an RBI, Pedroza had a double, two walks and a run to lead the offense along with Kingsolver’s HR.
The second game of the series was on national TV and the starting pitchers shined under the bright lights of the broadcast with Justin Garza and Jake Stassi trading zeroes for the first six innings. Garza had his worst outing of the season the first time he faced Long Beach but he was a different pitcher this time and only allowed two batters to reach base in the first six innings on a single and a walk. Stassi allowed three hits and two walks over the first six innings but managed to keep Fullerton off of the scoreboard. The Dirtbags got on the scoreboard in the seventh when Vaughn singled, was bunted to second and scored on a long double by Zack Rivera. The Titans once again responded in the bottom of the inning when Greg Velazquez walked, Chapman bunted him to second and Austin Diember came through with a clutch two out single to drive in Velazquez. Long Beach didn’t score in the top of the eighth and Lopez led off the bottom of the inning with a double to end Stassi’s night. J.D. Davis attempted to bunt Lopez to third and the bunt was misplayed by reliever Jon Maciel to put runners at first and third. Lopez scored when Lorenzen hit into a double play after Long Beach decided to leave the infield back even though that was the go ahead run. Lorenzen came into the game to finish things off and wasn’t sharp, allowing a walk and two singles to load the bases before getting a ground ball to third for a force out at home and a strike out to end the game and leave the bases loaded for his fifteenth save. Stassi was the hard luck loser, allowing two runs (1 ER) in 7+ innings and Garza stayed undefeated at 10-0 after allowing a run on four hits and a walk with four strikeouts in eight innings. Diemer had the only RBI for Fullerton and the runs were scored by Lopez and Velazquez.
As is often the case with Sunday baseball, runs were much more plentiful under the daylight and each team scored in the first. Jeff McNeil singled for Long Beach to lead off the game, stole second and scored on a SF by Avila but Fullerton responded once again when Pedroza led off with a single, stole second, advanced to third on a fly out and scored on a single up the middle by Anthony Hutting. Long Beach took the lead against Graham Wiest in the top of the fourth when Avila was hit by a pitch, Patron singled him to third and Rivera drove in Avila with a SF. Nick Sabo relieved David Hill in the fourth and gave up a couple of hits but held the Titans off of the scoreboard before Fullerton got to him in the fifth with the help of some poor defense when Kingsolver reached on an error at first by Patron, Pedroza bunted him to second, Lopez’s long flyball to the wall in RF popped out of Avila’s glove for a two base error, Davis walked to load the bases, a walk to Lorenzen forced in a run to tie the game and end Sabo’s day, a passed ball gave the Titans the lead and move the runners up and Hutting’s third single of the game drove in two runs to make it a 5-2 game. Jared Deacon and Chapman walked to lead off the sixth and Lopez came through with two outs with a laser shot into the net in RF for a three run HR to break the game open and bump Fullerton’s lead up to 8-2. Wiest improved his record to 8-2 after throwing seven solid innings, allowing three runs on four hits and a walk with six strikeouts. Lopez and Hutting led the offense with three RBI apiece and Lopez, Deacon and Kingsolver each scored twice.
Fullerton had trouble putting things together on offense against Long Beach in the first two games against a couple of good starting pitchers before breaking out in the third game to finish off the sweep. The Titans only hit .205 in the series but as they have often done this season, they were very patient and got on base often with walks and HBP’s and took advantage of eighteen free bases and five errors by the Dirtbags to score fourteen runs. Lopez was a catalyst in all three games, going 4-11 with three doubles and a HR, three RBI and four runs, Davis and Pedroza were both 2-7 with four walks and Hutting went 3-4 with three RBI in the only game he started. The pitching was once again outstanding as it has been almost every weekend and Fullerton had a 2.33 ERA, held Long Beach to a .208 AVG, had a 5/20 BB/K ratio and the starters improved their record to 26-4.
Fullerton will be trying to extend their winning streak this weekend against a team that has traditionally been a nemesis since joining the Big West in 2002, the UC Riverside Highlanders. Fullerton has had more trouble with Riverside than they have any other conference opponent over the last eleven years and has only gone 18-15 against the Highlanders with Riverside winning four of the series, including last year’s series at Goodwin Field for their first series win at Fullerton, and are 9-6 against the Titans at home. As much as Fullerton has been very consistent on a week to week basis, the Highlanders have been the exact opposite and after sweeping Irvine to start out conference play and 14-10 overall, Riverside has only won four of their last twenty games with three of those wins coming at home against last place Pacific. The Highlanders have played very well at home and won their first eleven games there before losing four of their last five games at home.
UC Riverside Highlanders
- (*18-26, 7-11 – 7th). Riverside will be vacating eight wins for using an ineligible player, which would make them 10-26.
- 2012 Overall Record – 22-32
- 2012 Conference Record – 9-15 (8th)
- 2012 Post-Season – None.
- 2013 RPI/ISR – 143/126. This will be adjusted once the eight wins are vacated. 2012 RPI/ISR – 145/110
- Current ranking/Pre-season ranking – None
- Predicted conference finish – 5th by Easton College Baseball, 7th by Big West coaches and Perfect Game and 8th by Baseball America
2012 Summary and 2013 Preview
UC Riverside won the Big West in 2007 and finished third, fourth and third in the conference in 2008-2010 before finishing fifth in 2011 at 11-13 and were next to last in the conference at 9-15 in 2012 and finished under .500 overall at 22-32 for the first time in four years. The Highlanders had heavy personnel losses from 2011 and got off to a slow start and never really got going, losing their first three series vs. BYU, at ASU and at Sam Houston State before picking up a series win vs. Sacramento State. After splitting a series at Fresno State, Riverside lost their next three series at UCSB and at home to Long Beach and Bakersfield. The Highlanders picked up their second series win of the season at home against UC Davis before being swept at Irvine and losing a series at home to Northridge. Riverside won only their third series against last place Pacific before springing the biggest upset of the Big West season when they won their first series ever at Fullerton and finished off the year by getting swept at home by Cal Poly.
Riverside’s offensive approach before BBCOR bats were introduced in 2011 was to play for the big inning by not playing much little ball so it wasn’t much of a surprise that they had issues adjusting to the new bats. The Highlanders were among the worst offensive teams in the conference the last two seasons and were next to last in the Big West in scoring in 2012 and scored four runs or less 31 times. Riverside only hit .260, was next to last in slugging and struck out more than anybody else in the conference. The one thing that the Highlanders did well was draw walks and they led the Big West in walks, which helped boost their on base percentage to third in the conference. Riverside still didn’t play much little ball despite swinging BBCOR bats and were only seventh in the conference in SB’s and bunted less than anybody else in the Big West.
Riverside had a poor 5.85 ERA in 2010 and with the switch to BBCOR bats their ERA tumbled down by over two runs to 3.40 in 2011, which was third in the conference. The Highlanders weren’t nearly as consistent in 2012 and saw their ERA shoot up by about 3/4 of a run per game and were sixth in the conference in ERA, allowing five runs or more 25 times. Riverside had a solid 2.4 K/BB ratio and was in the top three in the conference both in strikeouts and walks with their pitchers having good control but they had trouble keeping batters off base when they hit the ball and allowed their opponents to hit .283 overall and Big West teams hit .297 against their pitching staff.
Riverside expected to be better this season after returning almost their entire lineup and most of their pitching staff from 2012 but things didn’t turn out that way. The Highlanders lost three out of four games in a tournament at Palm Springs and split four games at Sacramento State, a series that was marred by a bench clearing brawl that was instigated by SS Eddie Young. Riverside returned home and swept St. Mary’s before splitting four games at New Mexico and losing their series at Portland. The program ran into more turmoil as the conference season started when Young was declared ineligible by the NCAA but the Highlanders responded to adversity with their best series of the season when they swept UC Irvine at home but they have skidded off of the road since then, losing sixteen of their last twenty games with three of the four wins coming at home against last place Pacific. Riverside has lost their other four series at Northridge, at UC Davis, at home to UCSB and at Cal Poly, getting swept in each of the road series. The Highlanders pitched better last weekend in San Luis Obispo, allowing eleven runs but seeing their offense get shut down and score only five runs.
Riverside has hit much better this season, batting almost twenty points higher and scoring a run more per game and they are ranked in the top half of the conference in scoring, AVG, SLG and OBP. The Highlanders offensive improvement has been even more pronounced at home, where they have hit .331 and averaged seven runs per game while going 12-4 but their inability to hit on the road has sunk their season because they are 6-22 away from home and hitting .240 and averaging 3.4 runs per game on the road other than their four game stat padding series at New Mexico’s launching pad. Riverside has only hit eleven HR’s but they are among the conference leaders in doubles and triples and have seen their SLG % go up by about fifty points. The Highlanders have been walking a lot and striking a lot like they did in 2012 and are second in the Big West in BB’s and K’s. Riverside still doesn’t bunt much but they are running much more this season and already have eighteen more steals than they had in 2012 with three weeks to go. The Highlanders offense has started to slow down as their struggles have increased and they have been held to three runs or less in six of their last nine games and they have been held to four runs or less 24 times for the season.
Riverside’s pitching staff has been very inconsistent and they have seen their ERA go up again this season by almost a run and they have allowed five runs or more 26 times and their pitchers have allowed an average of at least five runs a game in seven of their eleven weekend series. The Highlanders haven’t been missing enough bats and a porous defense has contributed to teams hitting over .300 against them. Riverside has a 1.5 BB/K ratio and went from ranking in the top three in the conference in walks and strikeouts to seeing their pitchers rank in the bottom three in the Big West in those categories, although they have done a better job of not walking hitters in conference games. The Highlanders have had one weekend starter s who has been pretty consistent, another one who has been up and down and there has been no reliable answer in the third starting spot but their bullpen has been pretty solid and kept them in games most of the time.
- Park Factor according to Boyd’s World – 117 (increases offense by 17%). Standard dimensions, unique features are a 20 ft wall/batters eye in CF and drainage slopes behind the infield dirt down the 1B and 3B lines. No marine layer due to being inland helps the ball carry better.
- Batting Average – .278 (5/115); .280 (6th) in conference. .260 (7th in the Big West, 239th nationally) in 2012; .252 in conference.
- Scoring – 235 (4/112), 5.5 per game; 79 (7th), 4.4 per game in conference. 235 (8/246), 4.4 per game in 2012; 93, 3.9 per game in conference.
- Home Runs – 11 (7/209); 4 (8th) in conference. 13 (6/250) in 2012; 7 in conference.
- Slugging Percentage – .376 (4/114); .371 (6th) in conference. .333 (8/268) in 2012; .326 in conference.
- On Base Percentage – .377 (2/52); .368 (3rd) in conference. .361 (3/137) in 2012; .341 in conference.
- Walks – 188 (2/73), 4.3 per game; 65 (3rd), 3.6 per game in conference. 229 (1/71), 4.2 per game in 2012; 83, 3.5 per game in conference.
- HBP’s – 55 (6/91); 22 (4th) in conference. 61 (5/113) in 2012; 27 in conference.
- Strikeouts – 298 (1/xx), 6.9 per game; 109 (2nd), 6.1 per game in conference. 386 (1/xx), 7.1 per game in 2012; 171, 7.1 per game in conference.
- Stolen Bases – 54-77 (3/114); 18-30 (5th) in conference. 36-57 (7/239) in 2012; 14-21 in conference.
- Sac Bunts – 30 (8/173); 14 (7th) in conference. 34 (9/203) in 2012; 15 in conference.
UC Riverside expected to have an experienced infield coming into the season after only losing one player from 2012, 1B/3B Vince Gonzalez, who was 2nd team All-Big West. Eddie Young started at SS in 2012 and was starting there earlier this season until being ruled ineligible by the NCAA right before conference play started.
C – SR #36 Bart Steponovich (RH – .262/.333/.292, 0-5-0. ’12 – .183/.241/.198, 0-11-0. ’11 – .290/.377/.323, 0-7-0 in 93 AB’s) split time in 2011 but hit his way into more playing time during the second half of the season. He hit .270 in his first 33 AB’s last season but only hit in the .150’s after that. Steponovich kept his job in the lineup because his defensive skills are very good and he has been hitting better this season and hasn’t been as much of a liability at the plate. He has trouble making contact and struck out nearly 1/3 of the time in 2011 and had even more issues in 2012 and was second in the Big West with 46 strikeouts and has struck out about 1/4 of time. Steponovich is a good bunter and had five SAC’s in 2012 and has three this season and will usually be batting 9th and splits time behind the plate. He went 0-8 at Fullerton in 2012 and is 0-12 in his career against the Titans.
C/1B – SR #7 Clayton Prestridge (RH – .344/.450/.416, 1-23-13. ’12 – .292/.435/.357, 0-24-9) played mostly LF in 2012 and was hitting in the .250’s most of the season but got hot over the last fifteen games and has continued to stay hot and is among the Big West leaders in AVG and OBP and will hit third while splitting time between C and 1B. He will stand in and take a HBP and has been hit 20 times over the last two seasons and is second in the conference with 12 HBP’s. Prestridge is a patient hitter who will see lots of pitches and was third in the Big West in 2012 in walks but is also prone to striking out and had a solid 36/34 BB/K ratio in 2012 and has a 20/29 ratio this season. He has good speed and led the team in SB’s in 2012 and is third in the conference this season. Prestridge is a gap to gap hitter and has only hit one HR in two seasons despite usually hitting in the middle of the lineup. He had a seventeen game hitting streak snapped against UCSB two weeks ago and was hitless in two games last weekend at Cal Poly. Like most of the team, he has hit better at home with a .377 AVG while hitting .327 on the road. Prestridge was 3-8 with five walks at Fullerton in 2012.
1B – FR #42 Francisco Tellez (LH – .317/.405/.571, 2-12-1) is a part-time starter who has been getting more playing time recently against RHP’s and figures to be in the lineup at least twice this weekend because he has been hitting for lots of power with ten extra base hits in only 63 AB’s. He has solid plate discipline with a 9/13 BB/K ratio.
1B/DH – JR #27 Kyle Boudreau (LH – .237/.350/.361, 2-21-3. ’12 – .267/.380/.389, 2-18-1. ’11 – .250/.363/.294, 0-8-1 in 68 AB’s) started 16 games in 2011 as a reserve and after a 2-24 start in 2012 hit around .300 after that. He has been a hot hitter at home with a .343 AVG but has only hit .177 on the road. Boudreau got off to a hot start this season but has only hit .151 over his last 53 AB’s and has seen his playing time dwindle with Tellez playing more. Boudreau went 2-7 at Fullerton in 2012.
DH – Soph #48 Kyle Davidson (RH – .256 in 39 AB’s. ’12 – .321/.410/.396, 1-9-0 in 53 AB’s) hit well in limited playing time as a FR and has only started eight times, usually against LHP’s.
2B – Soph #22 Nick Vilter (RH – .245/.361/.328, 1-13-1. ’12 –.229/.369/.337, 1-9-2) split time at 2B as a FR but has been the starter for almost every game this season and will usually hit seventh. He is big for a middle infielder and has some pop in his bat with ten extra base hits, although he hasn’t been too consistent and after going thru a 6-49 slump he has started hitting better lately and is 13-35 over the last twelve games. Vilter is patient at the plate and leads the team in walks but also has a big swing and is second in the conference in strikeouts and has a 21/46 BB/K ratio. He went 2-5 with two walks at Fullerton in 2012.
SS – Soph #20 Alex Rubanowitz (LH – .248/.336/.316, 1-15-3. ’12 – .244/.324/.300, 0-9-1) split time at 2B with Vilter as a FR and was playing at 3B earlier in the season but became the everyday SS after Young was ruled ineligible. He was on a hot streak when he hit .405 over a thirteen game stretch but has been ice cold and has only hit .181 over the last sixteen games. Like most of his teammates, Rubanowitz has hit much better at home with a .383 AVG and has only hit .157 on the road. He has switched positions with Vilter the last couple of games with Vilter playing SS so that is something to keep an eye on to see if they continue playing doing that. Rubanowitz went 1-9 at Fullerton in 2012 but the hit was a big one because it drove in the only run in the series deciding 1-0 win for Riverside.
3B/CF – Soph #8 Joe Chavez (RH – .325/.437/.497, 2-24-15. ’12 – 3-12) rarely got off the bench as a FR but has been one of the constants in the lineup and is having a strong season, leading the Big West in doubles and ranking in the top ten in the conference in runs, OBP and SLG. He is a patient hitter who is second on the team with 20 walks and will crowd the plate and has 11 HBP’s but he also has a big swing and leads the Big West with 50 strikeouts. Chavez was in a slump where he hit .178 over a twelve game stretch but he has gotten hot again and hit .408 over the last thirteen games. He will usually hit second, has good speed and leads the conference in SB’s. Chavez played in CF quite a bit earlier in the season but has started at 3B in seven of the last eight games.
3B – JR #16 Cody Hough (RH – .226/.333/.369, 2-9-1. ’12 –.196/.302/.232, 0-8-2) started during most of the non-conference season in 2012 but lost his spot in the lineup due to his issues at the plate. He hasn’t hit much better this season and usually starts at 3B when Chavez moves to the OF.
Riverside returned all of their outfielders from 2012 so they are very experienced but that has also created a crowded situation with some players shifting back and forth and Prestridge, one of last season’s outfielders, being moved to catcher.
LF – SR #4 Phil Holinsworth (RH – .256/.367/.344, 0-30-6. ’12 – .237/.314/.366, 4-17-3. ’11 – .279/.333/.380, 0-16-4) was the fourth OF in 2011 and got playing time in all three OF spots last season when other OF’s were out of the lineup with injuries. He is a good bunter and has seventeen SAC’s over the last three seasons, including five this year. Hollinsworth is one of several players who have gone into a slump recently and has only hit .200 over the last thirteen games. He is another player who has hit much better at home with a .298 AVG and has only hit .231 on the road. Hollinsworth is a good run producer and is second on the team in RBI and usually hits fifth. He had a game to remember at Fullerton in 2012 when he single-handedly outproduced the Titans offense with two 2-run HR’s in Riverside’s 6-3 win in the second game of the series.
CF/LF – Soph #6 Devyn Bolasky (LH – .321/.341/.344, 0-9-4. ’12 – .284/.376/.303, 0-8-6) was having a solid season as a FR before he injured a hamstring against Long Beach and missed a month before returning. He has very little power with only five extra base hits (all doubles) over the last two seasons and is a slap hitter who puts the ball in play and runs to beat out hits as the leadoff hitter. Bolasky isn’t patient at the plate and has only walked five times but he usually puts the ball in play and is one of the toughest players to strike out in the country with only seven strikeouts. He was in a 4-31 slump before being one of the few players to hit well at Cal Poly and went 7-12 last weekend. Bolasky has hit .410 at home and was only hitting .235 on the road before his hot streak in SLO. He will play in LF whenever Chavez moves from 3B to CF. Bolasky went 0-3 in his only start at Fullerton in 2012.
RF – JR #30 David Andriese (LH – .321/.367/.411, 0-33-3. ’12 – .233/.326/.380, 4-25-3. ’11 – .307/.392/.453, 4-30-1) was one of the better FR in the Big West in 2011 while playing in LF and led the team and was tenth in the Big West in SLG and was honorable mention all-conference. He injured his wrist four games into 2012 and missed the next thirteen games and never really got going as he went through a sophomore slump due to the injury. Andriese is a good run producer as the cleanup hitter and leads the team and is eighth in the conference in RBI. He struck out about 25-30% of the time in his first two seasons but has been doing a better job of making contact for a big hitter in the middle of the lineup and has a 12/25 BB/K ratio. Andriese was hitting .375 through the non-conference season but has been hitting in the .270’s since then. He has hit .362 at home and .300 on the road. Andriese went 1-11 at Fullerton in 2012 and is 4-22 in his career against the Titans.
Fielding % – .950 (10/278) with 84 errors; .954 (10th) with 32 errors in conference. .966 (7/140) with 70 errors in 2012; .959 with 39 errors in conference. Riverside had one of the better defenses in the Big West in 2010-2011 but the defense was below average in 2012 and has come off of the rails this season. The Highlanders are the worst fielding team in the conference and have allowed 73 unearned runs. Prestridge and Tellez are adequate at 1B, Vilter has good range at 2B but makes too many errors, Rubanowitz has been below average at SS and Chavez has been below average at 3B. Hollinsworth and Andriese have average range in the corner OF spots and Bolasky has good range in CF.
Stolen Base Attempts – 35-51 (6/xx); 13-19 (4th) in conference. 42-70 (5/xx) in 2012; 16-30 in conference. Steponovich was better at throwing out runners in 2012 (35-56) than he has been this season (17-22). Runners are 7-7 against Prestridge.
WP’s/PB’s Allowed – 38 (4/xx); 8 (1st) in conference games. 33 (2nd) in 2012; 17 in conference. Steponovich and Prestridge have been doing a solid job of blocking pitches and giving the pitching staff confidence in throwing off-speed pitches in the dirt.
- ERA – 5.14 (8/227); 4.69 (8th) in conference. 4.13 (6/112) in 2012; 4.13 in conference.
- AVG – .313 (9/281); .312 (9th) in conference. .283 (7/179) in 2012; .297 in conference.
- HR – 20 (8/xx); 8 (7th) in conference. 23 (5/xx) in 2012; 10 in conference.
- SLG – .376 (9/xx); .371 (9th) in conference. .392 (7/xx) in 2012; 410 in conference.
- Walks – 156 (8/174), 3.8 BB/9 IP; 42 (5th) 2.5 BB/9 IP in conference. 155 (3/44), 2.9 BB/9 IP in 2012; 65, 2.7 BB/9 IP in conference.
- HBP – 38 (7/xx); 23 (3rd) in conference. 36 (1/xx) in 2012; 23 in conference.
- OBP – .388 (9/xx); .372 (8th) in conference. .345 (4/xx) in 2012; .358 in conference.
- Strikeouts – 221 (8/258), 5.4 K/9 IP; 78 (9th), 4.6 K/9 IP in conference. 370 (2/92), 7.0 K/9 IP in 2012; 149, 6.3 K/9 IP in conference.
Riverside had an experienced weekend rotation in 2012 with two starters back from 2011 and they usually kept the Highlanders in games but wore down a little bit as the season went on and all three allowed conference opponents to hit in the low .300’s. Honorable mention all-conference starter Eddie Orozco moved on and one of the other starters was moved into the closer’s role, leaving returning and relievers to take over the other two spots in the weekend rotation.
JR #5 Dylan Stuart (LHP – 3-6, 4.69 ERA, 12 GS, 2 CG, 71 IP, 104 H, 15 BB, 24 K, .351 AVG, 4 HR, 3 HBP, 1 WP, 7-9 SB, 5 pickoffs. ’12 – 7-7, 4.00 ERA, 15 GS, 3 CG, 99 IP, 108 H, 21 BB, 56 K, .281 AVG, 3 HR, 3 HBP, 6 WP, 7-11 SB, 5 pickoffs. ’11 – 1-1, 1.72 ERA, 18 apps, 31 IP, 34 H, 11 BB, 29 K, .301 AVG, 0 HR, 3 HBP, 1 WP, 4-9 SB) was a middle reliever in 2011 and ended up pitching well enough to earn Big West FR Pitcher of the Year honors. Stuart got off to a great start in 2012 when he was Big West pitcher of the week for a shutout against BYU in his first start but was up and down after that, mixing bad outings with good ones and had a great start at Fullerton when he shut out the Titans in a 1-0 complete game win when he induced Fullerton into hitting sixteen groundouts. He has very good control and is usually around the plate and pitches to contact, which has been a problem this season with Riverside having such a poor defense that turns balls that should be outs into hits and errors and has allowed at least eight hits in each of his last eight starts. Stuart hasn’t made it out of the sixth inning five times but if he gets through the early innings without too much damage he is usually able to pitch deep into games because he keeps his pitch count down and doesn’t strike out many hitters with three or fewer strikeouts in his last nine games. He has allowed 18 R (14 ER) on 31 H in 19 1/3 IP in his last three starts. Stuart a very good move to first and has picked off ten runners over the last two seasons but when runners are able to run they usually have a pretty good chance to succeed.
JR #26 Ben Doucette (LHP – 2-5, 4.01 ERA, 11 GS, 61 IP, 68 H, 27 BB, 36 K, .282 AVG, 1 HR, 11 HBP, 4 WP, 2-5 SB. ’12 – 1-1, 1.69 ERA, 5 saves, 24 apps, 27 IP, 22 H, 10 BB, 26 K, .220 AVG, 0 HR, 5 HBP, 1 WP, 1-3 SB. ’11 – 1 IP) was moved into the closer’s role for the last six weeks of 2012 after pitching in middle relief earlier in the season and converted all five save chances that he had, including one at Fullerton. He does a good job of getting sink on his fastball and will sometimes run into control issues if hitters are laying off of it and he has walked at least three hitters in five of his starts, including six walks last week at Cal Poly when he was wildly effective in holding the Mustangs to two runs in seven innings. Doucette will pitch inside and leads the Big West with 10 HBP’s in conference games. He has been Riverside’s best starter lately despite a 1-4 record in Big West games and is seventh in the conference with a 2.65 ERA in Big West play. Doucette has allowed three runs or less in his last seven starts with a 2.33 ERA.
JR #25 Zach Varela (RHP – 3-0, 0.92 ERA, 14 apps, 3 GS, 29 IP, 24 H, 5 BB, 11 K, .220 AVG, 0 HR, 5 HBP, 2 WP, 4-4 SB. ’12 – 0-1, 3.86 ERA, 8 apps, 9 IP, 14 H, 1 BB, 12 K, .350 AVG, 0 HR, 2 HBP, 1 WP, 0-0 SB) didn’t pitch much in 2012 and was a middle reliever for most of this season, pitching very effectively in that role with a 0.53 ERA in eleven appearances out of the bullpen. He has started the last two weekends, allowing one run on six hits in four innings vs. UCSB and allowing two runs (1 ER) on five hits in five innings at Cal Poly. Varela isn’t a hard thrower but has very good control and does a good job of getting sink on his fastball.
JR #33 Jacob Smigelski (RHP – 1-1, 6.03 ERA, 6 GS, 31 IP, 45 H, 6 BB, 23 K, .346 AVG, 3 HR, 5 HBP, 3 WP, 5-7 SB) was the Sunday starter for the non-conference schedule but injured his arm against Irvine in his first conference start and hasn’t pitched since.
SR #17 Mitch Patito (RHP – 1-0, 3.86 ERA, 4 GS, 19 IP, 18 H, 12 BB, 11 K, .257 AVG, 0 HR, 1 HBP, 3 WP, 4-4 SB. ’12 – 3-4, 3.96 ERA, 16 apps, 10 GS, 50 IP, 41 H, 40 BB, 61 K, .227 AVG, 3 HR, 4 HBP, 1 WP, 7-11 SB. ’11 – 1-3, 5.75 ERA, 6 saves, 19 apps, 20 IP, 22 H, 18 BB, 24 K, .286 AVG, 1 HR, 4 HBP, 1 WP, 4-5 SB. ’10 – 3-0, 1.33 ERA, 3 saves, 21 apps, 27 IP, 13 H, 13 BB, 27 K, .138 AVG, 1 HR, 8 HBP, 1 WP, 3-3 SB) was the closer in 2010 and moved out of that role due to ineffectiveness during 2011 and was the midweek starter the last two seasons but was injured four starts into the season and hasn’t pitched since.
Riverside brought back a decent amount of experience in their bullpen from 2012 and one of the keys to the success that they have had has been due to converting one of last season’s weekend starters into the closer’s role.
SR #14 Trevor Frank (RHP – 4-1, 1.91 ERA, 9 saves, 21 apps, 33 IP, 23 H, 8 BB, 37 K, .187 AVG, 1 HR, 1 HBP, 2 WP, 1-1 SB. ’12 – 2-8, 4.63 ERA, 16 apps, 14 GS, 1 CG, 80 IP, 97 H, 19 BB, 40 K, .307 AVG, 3 HR, 5 HBP, 3 WP, 6-14 SB. ’11 – 2-3, 3.35 ERA, 1 save, 13 apps, 12 GS, 83 IP, 84 H, 14 BB, 55 K, .268 AVG, 3 HR, 7 HBP, 4 WP, 2-7 SB. ’10 – 3-3, 8.46 ERA, 17 apps, 8 GS, 50 IP, 79 H, 18 BB, 31 K, .374 AVG, 5 HR, 8 HBP, 4 WP, 7-11 SB) moved from a midweek starter/middle reliever to a weekend starter early in 2011 and was in the rotation through the end of last season before being converted into the closer’s role in the fall. He was more of a strike thrower and a pitch to contact guy as a starter but has been able to air it out more as a reliever and has his fastball getting into the mid 90’s as the closer and he is third in the Big West in saves. Because Frank used to be a starter, he is able to go more than an inning when called upon and threw 3 1/3 innings to pick up a save against UCSB two weeks ago. He didn’t allow a run over fifteen straight appearances but has allowed six runs on eleven hits in his last six outings and picked up the loss last Sunday when he allowed two runs after an outfielder misplayed the potential final out, turning a fly ball into a triple. Frank allowed five runs on sixteen hits and five walks in 13 2/3 IP in his starts against Fullerton over the last two seasons.
SR #29 Mark Garcia (LHP – 3-4, 5.79 ERA, 17 apps, 3 GS, 42 IP, 48 H, 19 BB, 23 K, .296 AVG, 3 HR, 5 HBP, 1 WP, 3-7 SB. ’12 – 2-1, 2.45 ERA, 1 save, 18 apps, 40 IP, 42 H, 16 BB, 27 K, .271 AVG, 0 HR, 4 HBP, 3 WP, 0-2 SB. ’11 – 1-2, 4.68 ERA, 17 apps, 25 IP, 30 H, 11 BB, 18 K, .306 AVG, 1 HR, 3 HBP, 3 WP, 2-2 SB. ’10 – 0-0, 10.80 ERA, 8 apps, 8 IP, 13 H, 5 BB, 7 K) has been solid in a middle relief role over the last two seasons as the main guy to get the ball from the starters to the closer. He has been a workhorse and has often gone 2-3 innings in his appearances and is 3-2 with a 3.68 ERA in relief but has a 12.27 ERA in his three starts.
Soph #35 Kevin Sprague (LHP – 1-0, 3.65 ERA, 17 apps, 25 IP, 36 H, 7 BB, 14 K, .346 AVG, 1 HR, 2 HBP, 1 WP, 2-5 SB) has also been effective in relief despite allowing a high average due to very good control. He started on Tuesday against San Diego State and allowed three runs in four innings.
SR #28 Donovan Gonzales (RHP – 0-5, 9.45 ERA, 12 apps, 2 GS, 20 IP, 34 H, 20 BB, 12 K, .374 AVG, 1 HR, 0 HBP, 3 WP, 2-3 SB. ’12 – 0-0, 5.50 ERA, 12 apps, 18 IP, 15 H, 5 BB, 6 K, .212 AVG, 1 HR, 2 HBP, 2 WP, 0-0 SB)
Unlike with how Fullerton has beaten Long Beach like a drum over the last five seasons, it has been the exact opposite in their series with Riverside because they circle this series on their schedule more than they do any other series that they play. It looked like the Titans had gotten over their issues when they play the Highlanders after winning the previous four series the teams had played, including an eight game winning streak from 2009-2011, before Riverside pulled off the upset in the series at Goodwin Field last season. That is the only series that Fullerton has lost since the opening weekend of 2012.
Riverside has hit the ball very well at home but they have started to cool off a bit at the plate lately so it will be interesting to see if they can start to heat up against a strong Fullerton pitching staff that held them in check last season except for Hollinsworth’s two home-run game. The Titans did not hit well against the Highlanders in any of the three games last season but their offense is much better this season and Riverside’s pitching staff hasn’t been as good as they were in 2012.
Fullerton has a big advantage in the pitching match-up, although Riverside did pitch well in each of the three games at Cal Poly last weekend in holding the Mustangs to three runs. If the Highlanders can continue to pitch like they did last weekend that will decrease the edge that the Titans have in pitching in this series.
One area that is a mismatch is how these teams have played in the field. Fullerton has had an occasional lapse but for the most part has fielded well and has one of the better defenses in the conference, especially during Big West play. Riverside has been brutal in the field for the entire season and has only played error free ball in twelve of 44 games and the Titans have been making teams pay for making mistakes against them all season.
This could be looked at as a trap series for Fullerton, playing on the road in a place where they have traditionally not played well in between series against Long Beach and Irvine. The Titans have been a focused team this season and will remember that this is the only team that has won a series against them in the last twenty-four series. It doesn’t figure to be easy this weekend but look for Fullerton to come out of Riverside with a series win.