Thursday, March 25, 2010

Hawaii Series Preview

By FullertonBaseballFan

The roller coaster ride that has been the 2010 season for Cal State Fullerton continued over the past six games with two close losses to #1/ #2 Arizona State 6-5 and 8-6 with the Sun Devils coming from behind in each game. That midweek series was followed by a three game sweep at Washington (9-7, 19-6 and 6-0) and a 4-2 loss at Loyola Marymount on Tuesday which evened up Fullerton’s record at 10-10. The leading hitters for the Titans against Washington were Christian Colon (8-13, 4 HR and 7 RBI), Gary Brown (11-16, 5 RBI), Carlos Lopez (8-13), Joey Siddons (5-12) and Billy Marcoe (4-12, 2 HR) and the best pitching effort came from Kyle Mertins when he had an outstanding start and threw eight scoreless innings. Next up for the Fullerton in their first weekend at home since the beginning of March is a visit from the Hawaii Rainbows.

Hawaii (12-9) is traveling to the mainland for the first time this year after a 20 game homestand to start the season and got their trip off to a good start with an 8-2 win at Long Beach on Wednesday night. The Rainbows got off to a slow start when they lost 3 of 4 games to a strong Oregon State squad, won 3 of 4 games in a low scoring series with Oregon, split four games with The Citadel (one of the favorites in the Southern Conference), lost 3 of 4 games to USC and swept four games against Air Force. Hawaii came into this season with expectations of making a run at a regional after finishing 32-26, 11-12 and in 5th place in the WAC with a solid nucleus returning both in the lineup and on the mound. The Rainbows were picked to finish either 2nd or 3rd by the media and the WAC coaches.


Hawaii plays their home games on field turf at Les Murakami Stadium, which has a ballpark factor according to Boyd’s World of 73 and decreases offense by 27%. As a result of playing in a pitchers park and in a conference with some bandboxes the Rainbows had the lowest team average (.278) and scoring offense (6 RPG) in the WAC in 2009 but they did hit 64 HR’s and have a .496 SLG %. The offense has been similar this season with a .242 team average and 4.5 RPG with 15 HR in their first sixteen games before scoring 41 R and hitting .376 an overmatched Air Force pitching staff to increase their team average to .273. Hawaii will have some hitters work counts but they aren’t looking to bunt much (32 SAC’s in 2009, 11 this year) or run much (38 SB’s in 2009, 12 this year) they are looking to swing for the fences and are striking out nearly eight times per game.

Hawaii takes advantage of playing on field turf and was a good fielding team last season and made 58 errors with a .975 fielding % (14th in the country) and has a good fielding team again this year with a .976 fielding % and 19 errors.


Hawaii lost starters at C, 2B and 3B from last season and moved one of their OF’s to 2B and has two recruits starting at C and 3B and the new starters have worked out well.

C – JC transfer David Freitas (RH – .281/.359/.469, 3-15-0) led his JC team in AVG, HR and RBI in 2009 and has gotten off to a solid start hitting in the cleanup spot and is 2nd on the team in HR and RBI. He started out hitting .255 before going 6-14 last weekend against Air Force. Freitas was expected to be able to hit but he has also done a good job behind the plate throwing out half of the baserunners who have attempted to steal (16-32 SB’s). SR Kevin Fujii (RH – 3-18; .220 in 58 AB’s in ‘09) has started one game in each series with Freitas moving over to DH.

1B – SR Kevin Macdonald (RH – .207/.356/.466, 5-14-1; ’09 – .271/.352/.516, 14-60-0) is a three year starter at 1B and led the team in HR and RBI last season when he was 1st team All WAC. He leads the team in HR again this season and is an all or nothing hitter who swings for the fences and led the team with 52 K’s in 2009 and is striking out over 1/3 of the time this year. Macdonald does a good job on defense and hits 6th.

2B – Soph Kolten Wong (LH – .342/.451/.526, 2-13-6; ’09 – .341/.418/.597, 11-52-11) is Hawaii’s best player and one of the best players in the WAC. He was a FR All-American last season and was among the team leaders in AVG, R, HR, RBI, SLG, OBP and SB and played on Team USA last summer. Wong played OF in 2009 but moved to 2B this year and has played well there and has only made two errors. He has gotten off to a good start and hits 3rd.

SS – JR Greg Garcia (LH – .303/.424/.526, 2-12-1; ’09 – .265/.359/.385, 2-23-6) is a three year starter in the middle infield and started at 2B as a FR and at SS the last two years. He is patient at the plate and works counts and was 2nd on the team in BB in 2009 but also struck out 40 times because he will also swing for the fences. Garcia will hit 2nd and got off to a very slow start, hitting .214 the first four series before going 9-16 against Air Force. He was a little shaky at SS last season with 16 E’s and a .950 FLD % but has improved this year and made only two errors and has a .978 FLD %.

3B – FR Pi’ikea Kitamura (RH – .254/.351/.349, 1-9-0) has moved into the lineup right away as a FR and started every game. He has done a solid job defensively but struggled at the plate in adjusting to D1 ball and was hitting .229 before going 5-13 with 6 RBI’s against Air Force. Kitamura will usually hit 8th or 9th.

Outfield and DH

Hawaii returned all of their OF’s from last season but with Wong moving to 2B that opened up a spot in the OF.

CF – JC transfer Collin Bennett (RH – .347/.435/.569, 3-17-1) is another newcomer who has moved right into the lineup and hit the ground running. He leads the team in AVG, SLG and RBI as a power bat in the middle of the lineup and usually hits 5th.

LF and RF – SR Matt Roquemore (LH – .385/.484/.385, 0-2-0; ’09 – .281/.357/.352, 0-12-4), JR Sean Montplaisir (LH – .174/.304/.196, 0-4-2; ’09 – .291/.358/.510, 5-26-2) and SR Christian Johnson (LH – .185/.290/.333, 1-1-1; ’09 – .214/.304/.412, 6-23-1) have been sharing time at the corner OF spots after also splitting up time in the OF in 2009. Roquemore has gotten off to the best start and will bat leadoff when he is in the lineup and is a slap hitter. Montplaisir was the best all around hitter last year and a pre-season All WAC selection but has been in a major slump to start the year. Johnson has the most raw power but is an all or nothing hitter (41 K’s in 131 AB’s in 2009) which means not much AVG and the occasional HR. FR Kalani Brackenridge (RH – 4-20) has gotten a few AB’s lately due to the slow starts of Montplaisir and Johnson.

DH – JR Jeffrey Van Doornum (RH – .321/.387/.554, 2-7-1; ’09 – .228/.293/.315, 2-16-6) has been the DH most of the last two years and gives the lineup some pop in the 7th spot. Freitas will DH if he takes a game off from catching.


Hawaii’s pitching staff struggled last season with a 5.74 ERA including a 7.26 ERA in conference games. The pitchers for the Rainbows have done a much better job this season with a 4.14 ERA with two strong SP’s at the front of the rotation and some good work out of the bullpen. Hawaii only scored 11 runs in the Oregon series but won 3 of 4 games because they held the Ducks to nine runs. The Rainbows have allowed four runs or less in 12 of their 21 games.


FRI – JR Josh Slaats (RHP – 2-0, 0.40 ERA, 4 starts, 23 IP, 15 H, 6 BB, 25 K, .197 BA, 0 HR, 3 HBP, 2 WP) is a big power pitcher who was on the Baseball America pre-season All WAC team and has been outstanding during the first month of the season. He allowed two unearned runs in 6 IP against Oregon State, 1 R in 4 1/3 IP against Oregon and threw seven scoreless innings against The Citadel when he only gave up two hits. He missed his start against USC with some arm soreness but came back last week to hold Air Force scoreless in 5 1/3 IP with 10 K’s. Slaats was a reliever in 2009 and struggled with consistency (2-2, 8.33 ERA, 4 saves in 18 apps, 27 IP, 29 H, 17 BB, 30 K) but has turned it around this year.

SAT – JR Sam Spangler (LHP – 2-3, 3.67 ERA, 5 starts, 27 IP, 26 H, 10 BB, 31 K, .277 BA, 0 HR, 2 HBP, 2 WP) was drafted in the 20th round last June as a 3rd yr Soph and was the Baseball America pre-season WAC pitcher of the year. Spangler split time as a closer last season (5-3, 4.17 ERA, 4 saves, 19 apps, 45 IP, 49 H, 14 BB, 48 K) and has a live arm with a fastball that sits in the low 90’s and his changeup he has developed to go with his breaking pitch. He didn’t get past the fifth inning in his first two starts before holding The Citadel to 1 R and 7 H in 7 IP and USC to 3 R and 7 H in 6 2/3 IP. Spangler allowed 4 R in 5 IP last weekend against Air Force.

SUN – Soph Matt Sisto (RHP – 2-3, 6.33 ERA, 5 starts, 27 IP, 28 H, 7 BB, 18 K,.269 BA, 2 HR, 1 HBP, 0 WP) had a good FR season (5-4, 4.37 ERA, 13 starts, 82 IP, 104 H, 14 BB, 50 K, .314 AVG) and was expected to be one of the better pitchers on the staff but did not pitch well in three of his first four starts. He had a good start against Oregon (one unearned run in 6 IP) in between bad starts against Oregon State (6 R in 5 2/3 IP) and The Citadel (8 R in 6 IP). After another poor start against USC (4 R in 2 1/3 IP) he bounced back to hold Air Force to 1 R in 7 IP. Sisto is a strike thrower but has often been getting too much of the plate allowing teams to put together big innings.

SR RHP Nate Klein (1-0, 5.59 ERA, 4 starts) was the other SP returning from last season (3-4, 5.10 ERA in 10 starts) along with Sisto and started the first game in of each of the first four series for Hawaii but injured his arm in his start against USC, did not pitch against Air Force and will not pitch this weekend


Hawaii has some experience in their bullpen and their relievers have usually done a solid job, especially their closer.

Soph Lenny Linsky (RHP – 0-9, 0.00 ERA, 4 saves, 10 apps, 13 IP, 7 H, 5 BB, 9 K, .163 BA, 0 HR) has been nearly unhittable with five of the seven hits allowed coming in a 2 1/3 IP appearance last weekend.

JR Alex Capaul (RHP – 4-1, 4.71 ERA, 6 apps, 1 start, 21 IP, 20 H, 1 BB, 10 K, 2 HR) has done a good job in middle relief and is able to throw several innings. He started against Air Force last weekend for Klein and allowed 5 R in 6 1/3 IP.

Other relievers who would be most likely to come into games would be JC transfer Blair Walters (LHP – 0-1, 4.26 ERA, 8 apps, 13 IP, 11 IP, 4 BB, 15 K, 0 HR), Soph Jesse Moore (RHP – 0-0, 3.97 ERA, 6 apps, 1 save, 11 IP, 9 H, 6 BB, 7 K, 1 HR) who threw 2 2/3 scoreless innings for the save against Long Beach and Soph Connor Little (RHP – 0-0, 4.91 ERA, 5 apps, 7 IP, 10 H, 3 BB, 9 K, 0 HR).


Fullerton has showed quite a bit of progress recently in rebounding from a 4-7 start to win three straight games each of the last two weekends. Hawaii will give the Titans a major test this weekend with the pitching staff that they are bringing to Goodwin Field and Fullerton’s inability to hit in most of their losses with 20 runs scored in their ten defeats.

The Fullerton pitching staff should be able to hold down the Hawaii hitters if they keep the ball in the yard. If the Titan pitching staff is making mistakes and allowing the Hawaii hitters to tee off this could be a long weekend for Fullerton.

This will be only the second game that Hawaii has played on grass this season. Also, the teams that Hawaii has played haven’t put too much pressure on the Rainbows except for Oregon, whose offense was shut down by Hawaii. It will be interesting to see if Fullerton will be able to put pressure on the Hawaii pitchers and fielders and how they respond.

Runs figure to be at a premium this weekend after the slugfests that broke out in the first couple of games in Seattle. This series looks like it will come down to the pitching staffs because both offenses have been running hot and cold. If Fullerton is able to establish some consistency at the plate this weekend like they have the last two weekends then the Titans have a solid chance to win the series. If Fullerton struggles offensively Hawaii has a pitching staff that will give them a chance to sneak out of Goodwin Field with a series win.

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