Wednesday, March 31, 2010

UC Davis Series Preview

By FullertonBaseballFan

The sluggish 4-7 start that Cal State Fullerton got off to looks like it could be in the rear view mirror with the Titans going 8-1 over the last three weekends and winning two out of three games at Goodwin Field last weekend against Hawaii (3-0, 13-7, 7-10). It was a balanced effort at the plate for Fullerton against the Rainbows with Corey Jones leading the way with six hits and six other players each getting five hits. The leader for the pitching staff unquestionably was Noe Ramirez, the Big West pitcher of the week after throwing a CG shutout with a career high 14 strikeouts. The Titans are looking to build off of the momentum of their recent success as they open Big West play this weekend at Goodwin Field against the UC Davis Aggies.

UC Davis (12-9) qualified for a regional in 2008 with a veteran laden team in their first year of D1 eligibility and their first year as a full member of the Big West. The Aggies knew that 2009 would be a rebuilding year after losing so many players from their regional team but nothing could prepare them for how poorly they played in winning only seven of their first 43 games before going 6-6 in their last twelve games, including series wins against UC Riverside and Cal State Northridge. UC Davis is playing outside of northern part of the state for the first time this weekend although they have played on the road quite a bit and are 7-4 away from home. The Aggies split home series with Utah and BYU and won a H/A series with Causeway Cup rival Sacramento State before hitting the road and going 3-1 in the Bay Area in a tournament hosted by San Jose State and Santa Clara and losing two out of three games last weekend at Fresno State. Due to last season’s poor results, despite returning most of their team UC Davis didn’t come into this season with high expectations after being picked to finish last in the Big West but they have already nearly matched last season’s win total before conference play has gotten started.


The ballpark at UC Davis favors pitchers with dimensions that are 385 to the power alleys and 410 to straight away center with a good amount of foul territory and according to Boyd’s World the ballpark helps hold down offense by 20%. Playing in a pitchers park influences the hitting approach of the Aggies because they go to the plate looking to make contact and spray line drives around the park. UC Davis had one of the worst offenses in the country last season and ranked in the bottom 20 in AVG, R, HR, SLG, BB and SB. Despite losing two of their best hitters (Ty Kelly, Ryan Scoma) the Aggies have been much better at the plate with their team average going up over 40 points to .311 (tied for 2nd in the conf) and scoring about two more runs per game (averaging six runs per game). UC Davis doesn’t hit for much power (8th in the conf in SLG, last in extra base hits) and doesn’t walk much (8th in the conf in BB) and their hitters will make contact, trailing only UC Irvine for fewest strikeouts in the conf. The Aggies will only bunt with a couple of hitters and will run some (23-34 SB’s).

UC Davis was a below average fielding team in 2009 with a .962 FLD % and made 79 errors but have improved their defense somewhat this season, especially in the infield, and have made 29 E’s for a .964 FLD %. The Aggies were fielding the ball pretty well in their first 16 games when they made 20 errors but have gotten sloppy lately and made nine errors in their last five games.


UC Davis returns an experienced infield, losing only 3B Kelly from last season, despite not starting any upperclassmen. The Aggies switched their 2B and SS and moved a FR to 3B and those moves have worked out pretty well.

C – Soph #7 Scott Kalush (RH – .333/.396/.375, 0-13-0; ’09 – .200 in 100 AB’s) is in his second season as the starting C and his offense has improved (tied for 2nd in RBI) after not hitting well as a FR. He has struggled defensively and allowed 96-108 SB’s the last two years including 27-30 this season. Kalush usually hits 8th and went 1-8 last season against Fullerton. JR #3 Alex Dreyfuss (RH – 6-22) has started six games as the backup C but hasn’t started a game in the last two weeks.

1B – Soph #19 Eric Johnson (RH – .367/.446/.418, 0-20-2; ’09 – .276 in 87 AB’s) was a part-time starter in 2009 and has hit well as the full-time 1B and leads the team in RBI. He is 2nd on the team in OBP and leads the team with 9 HBP but has only walked three times. Johnson will hit either cleanup or 5th. He is a big guy who does a solid job defensively at 1B.

2B – Soph #7 Scott Heylman (RH – .257/.368/.286, 0-10-2; ’09 – .279/.369/.364, 0-12-2) was the starting SS in 2009 and did ok there but his range was a little limited and he is a better fit at 2B where he has made four errors this season and has been solid. He is in the lineup for his glove and usually hits 9th. Heylman went 1-6 against Fullerton last season.

SS – Soph #23 Justin Schafer (RH – .318/.378/.412, 1-13-2; ’09 – .338/.411/.432, 2-11-7) led the Aggies in AVG and SB and was 2nd in SLG in 2009. He got off to a slow start and was only hitting .238 going into last week but has gone 11-22 the last five games. Schafer was the 2B last year but is a better athlete than Heylman and has done a good job since being switched to SS and has made only three errors. He will usually lead off or hit 2nd. Schafer went 3-10 against Fullerton last season.

3B – FR #34 Paul Politi (RH – .250/.329/.375, 1-13-1) took over for Kelly and barely hit .200 going into last week but has gone 7-18 his last five games and is tied for 2nd in RBI. He was playing well defensively going into last week with only two errors but has made four errors in the last five games. Politi will usually hit 7th or 8th.

Outfield and DH

UC Davis returns two of their OF’s from last season and has been getting some surprising help from one of their utility players who was only a pitcher in 2009 but has been both an OF and a SP this season.

CF – JR #11 Daniel Cepin (RH – .301/.354/.315, 0-8-5; ’09 - .269/.348/.330, 0-12-2) is one of the faster players on the team and has been the leadoff man the past two seasons. He got off to a good start but has been nicked up for the last week and has started only twice in the last five games, both times as the DH.

If Cepin is unable to play in the outfield, SR #24 Kyle Mihaylo (RH – .329/.356/.486, 3-8-3; ’09 – .237/.298/.333, 1-12-2) will move over from a corner outfield spot. Mihaylo is the one player on the team that has trouble with making contact, leading the team in K’s last season and striking out nearly 1/3 of the time this season. He is leading the team in HR’s and had one of the better SLG %’s on the team in 2008 but had a bad year in 2009. Mihaylo usually hits either 6th or 7th.

LF – FR #9 Seth Batty (RH – .233/.352/.233, 0-6-6) has been in the lineup six of the last nine games and is one of the faster runners on the team. He has been leading off when he is in the lineup because he does a solid job of drawing walks and he leads the team in SB.

RF – Soph #30 Scott Lyman (RH – .363/.386/.538, 2-12-1) focused on pitching as a FR but has been in the OF when he’s not pitching and has turned into one of the better hitters on the team. When Lyman is up the ball will be put in play because he has only 1 BB and 7 K’s. Lyman will hit in the middle of the lineup in the first two games but will not hit as the DH when he is the SP. Runners will have to be careful trying to take an extra base because of his arm.

DH – Soph David Popkins (RH – .426/.556/.630, 2-11-1; ’09 – 2-18) barely played in 2009 but has been on fire this year and leads the team in AVG, OBP, SLG and BB. He also does a good job of making contact and has only K’d six times. Popkins will usually hit 3rd or 4th.


The position players for UC Davis weren’t the only ones who had issues in 2009 because the pitching staff was last in the Big West with a 6.72 team ERA after they returned none of their SP’s from their 2008 regional team. The Aggies are much more experienced on the mound this season, returning most of their SP’s and eight pitchers who threw 20+ innings in 2009, and there has been drastic improvement with a 4.20 ERA (2nd in the conf), a .262 BA (2nd in the conf) and a conf best 7 HR allowed.


THURS – Soph #6 Dayne Quist (LHP – 4-1, 2.90 ERA, 5 starts, 3 CG, 40 IP, 30 H, 10 BB, 31 K, .213 BA, 3 HR, 1 HBP, 3 WP) is a crafty lefty who relies on control, changing speeds and keeping the ball down to get hitters out. He was outstanding in his first four starts, winning all of them and throwing three CG’s with an ERA under 2. Quist allowed 1 R against Utah, 0 R against BYU and 3 R against Sac State and Southern Illinois. He struggled last week at Fresno State and allowed 8 R (6 ER) and 11 H in 6 IP. Quist had the best ERA of the SP’s in 2009 (2-6, 5.48 ERA, 17 apps, 8 starts, 67 IP, 75 H, 29 BB, 32 K). He allowed 8 R and 13 H in 7 IP in his start against Fullerton last season.

FRI – Soph #8 Anthony Kupbens (LHP – 3-2, 3.71 ERA, 6 starts, 34 IP, 34 H, 14 BB, 19 K, .264 BA, 1 HR, 5 HBP, 0 WP) is another crafty lefty who relies on keeping the ball down to get hitters out. He pitched primarily out of the bullpen in 2009 (2-1, 4.88 ERA, 8 apps, 24 IP, 19 H, 11 BB, 16 K) and has done a good job in the rotation. Kupbens has allowed 3 R or less in four of his five starts. He allowed 2R against Utah, 2 R against Sac State, 2 R against Santa Clara and 3 R against Fresno State with his only bad start when he allowed 7 R (5 ER) against BYU.

SAT – Soph #30 Scott Lyman (RHP – 1-2, 6.08 ERA, 5 starts, 1 CG, 27 IP, 34 H, 15 BB, 22 K,.312 BA, 0 HR, 1 HBP, 8 WP) is a hard thrower who had issues with his control as a FR (0-5, 6.41 ERA, 13 apps, 39 IP, 38 H, 33 BB, 26 K) and leads the staff in BB and WP. He struggled in his first three starts but had a strong start against Fresno State last week when he threw a CG and allowed 2 R (1 ER) on 6 H and 4 BB.

The midweek SP is Soph #26 Nathan Slater (LHP – 2-2, 4.84 ERA, 7 apps, 4 starts, 22 IP, 24 H, 8 BB, 20 K, .279 BA, 1 HR, 1 HBP, 5 WP) and he threw 3 IP against St. Mary’s on Tuesday so he will be available out of the bullpen.


UC Davis doesn’t have a set closer but has several relief pitchers that they have been going to often who have been solid out of the bullpen.

SR #31 Scott Heinig – (RHP – 0-1, 4.22 ERA, 10 apps, 11 IP, 10 H, 5 BB, 4 K, .286 BA, 0 HR). Heinig has been solid except for allowing 4 R in 1 1/3 IP against Santa Clara.
JR #15 Matt Derr – (RHP – 0-0, 3.86 ERA, 1 save, 7 apps, 7 IP, 7 H, 5 BB, 6 K, .269 BA, 0 HR)
SR #33 Sean Watson – (LHP – 0-1, 4.97 ERA, 7 apps, 13 IP, 15 H, 7 BB, 4 K, .313 BA, 1 HR)
FR #32 CJ Blom – (LHP 1-0, 3.52 ERA, 6 apps, 8 IP, 8 H, 5 BB, 13 K, .258 BA, 0 HR). Blom has the best stuff of the RP’s.
JR #43 Matthew Lewis – (RHP – 1-0, 4.22 ERA, 6 apps, 11 IP, 6 H, 10 BB, 11 K, .171 BA, 1 HR). Lewis has been tough to hit but has also been very wild.
Soph #16 LHP Scott Chew will be available this weekend after throwing 1 IP at Fresno last weekend in his first appearance of the season. He had a good start against Fullerton last season when he held the Titans to 1 R on 3 H in 7IP.


Their probably won’t be high scoring games this weekend because these pitching staffs have the two best ERA’s in the Big West and cool weather is in the forecast. Fullerton has averaged less than three runs per game in their losses. UC Davis has scored four runs or less in nearly half of their games.

The Fullerton pitching staff matches up well with a UC Davis offense that doesn’t look to muscle up and swing for the fences and also isn’t patient at the plate. If the Titan pitchers are on their game they should be able to hold down the Aggie lineup.

The UC Davis pitching staff presents an interesting challenge because the first two SP’s are crafty LHP’s that have given the LH heavy Fullerton lineup trouble this season.

Fullerton is the best team that Davis has faced in a weekend series. Fullerton’s offense has been clicking lately and has usually been more productive than the UC Davis lineup has. If the lineup puts up enough runs against the Davis LHP’s in the first two games, Noe Ramirez keeps pitching like he has been and Renken and Pill bounce back then Fullerton should be able to win this series.

No comments: