Thursday, March 18, 2010

Washington Series Preview

By FullertonBaseballFan

Cal State Fullerton started to break out of their funk last weekend in San Diego. After getting only four hits against Matt Morse in a 5-0 shutout loss to Fresno State to fall to 4-7, the Titans rebounded to win their next three games behind good starting pitching and the bats starting to come to life. Daniel Renken held San Diego State to 1 R in 5 2/3 IP in an 11-1 win, Noe Ramirez held San Diego to 2 R in 8 IP in a 4-2 win and Kyle Mertins held UAB to 2 R in 6 1/3 IP in a 12-2 win. The leading hitters for Fullerton were Gary Brown (7-17), Carlos Lopez (7-16), Corey Jones (8-17), Christian Colon (6-16) and Tyler Pill (5-11).

The Titans were unable to keep their momentum going against Arizona State, who came into this week ranked first or second in four of the five major polls. Fullerton had leads in both games but were unable to hold on in either game against the Sun Devils in 6-5 and 8-6 hard fought defeats. The 7-9 Titans know they won’t be able to get back over .500 for the first time this season unless they win all three games in their series up in Seattle against the Washington Huskies.

It is the beginning of a new era for Washington after long time coach Ken Knutson was fired after the Huskies missed out on playing in regionals for their fifth straight season and they hired Lindsay Meggs away from Indiana State. The expectations for Washington weren’t that high going into the season with the Huskies picked to finish in the bottom two spots in the Pac 10 standings by the coaches and the media. Washington lost their two best hitters (Jake Rife, Kyle Conley), best starting pitcher (Jason Erickson) and two best relievers (Brian Pearl, Seth Haehl) from last season but they have a pretty experienced team with most of the other players returning.

As often happens during the first season with a new coach Washington has had their ups and downs in splitting their first fourteen games. The Huskies started the season winning two of three games in a tournament in Tucson (W – New Mexico State, L – Missouri, W – Gonzaga), lost two out of three at home to Fresno State, split midweek games with Oregon, won two out of three at Long Beach State and lost two out of three at BYU.


Washington had an offense that was pretty much all or nothing last season because they were among the Pac 10 leaders with 64 HR’s but were near the bottom of the conference in AVG, OBP and R and averaged 9 K’s per game. The Huskies also didn’t do much to get runners moving with little ball because they were last in the Pac 10 in sac bunts and SB’s. After changing coaches and losing their two best hitters who accounted for 25 HR’s, Washington has changed their philosophy and they are more of a line drive hitting team, cutting their strikeouts to six per game, and have improved their team average over 30 points to .299 on the season with only 7 HR’s in 14 games and they are scoring almost a run more per game. The Huskies still aren’t running much with only 4 SB’s but they are moving runners over much more by bunting and already have 17 sac bunts.

The outfield dimensions at Husky Ballpark are favorable to hitters with short porches down each line (327 to LF and only 317 to RF) and short power allies (365 to left center and right center) and 395 to straightaway CF. The ballpark has field turf over the entire surface except for the mound and the home plate area, which favors ground ball pitchers. Despite the dimensions, Husky Ballpark has tended to be more of a pitchers park due to the playing surface and weather that is often cool and damp and the ballpark factor according to Boyd’s World is 87, which means the ballpark decreases offense by 13%.

Washington was an average fielding team last season and made 67 errors with a .967 fielding %, which should have been better playing on field turf. The Huskies have struggled on defense this year and have made 22 errors for a .957 fielding %.


Washington has a pretty experienced infield with most of the players who received playing time returning except for their catcher.

C – JR Pierce Rankin (RH – .327/.404/.531, 1-13-1; ’09 – .299/.369/.530, 6-26-3) is a good athlete who started over 20 games at 2B and also started a dozen games behind the plate as the backup C last season. He was 3rd on the team in HR and SLG in 2009. Rankin leads the team in RBI and is 2nd in SLG and usually bats cleanup. Rankin has worked on shortening his swing after striking out over 25% of the time and has K’d only six times. JC transfer Miles Kizer (RH – .250/.357/.500, 1-3-0) is the backup and has started five times, with Rankin usually moving to the DH spot. They are doing a solid job of blocking pitches and have allowed 10 WP’s/PB’s (3 PB’s by Kizer) but Rankin has struggled against the running game (12-14 SB’s).

1B – JR Troy Scott (LH – .320/.433/.520, 1-9-0; ’09 – .251/.377/.492, 11-31-1) is a three year starter at 1B and was 2nd on the team in HR and 3rd in R and RBI last season. Scott will see lots of pitches and led the team in BB’s in 2009 but also has a big swing and was 2nd on the team in K’s, striking out almost 1/3 of the time. He leads the team in BB’s and K’s. Scott is solid defensively and usually hits 3rd.

2B – SR Bradley Boyer (RH – .292/.352/.417, 1-9-1) and SR Doug Cherry (RH – .409/.552/.500, 0-5-0; ’09 – .257/.289/.394, 3-17-4) have been splitting time at 2B. Boyer was the starter in ’08 before taking a medical redshirt last season and Cherry started half of the games at 2B in 2009. Boyer is a versatile player who has also started games at 3B and in the OF and has started 12 of 14 games, usually batting 1st or 2nd. Cherry will usually bat in the lower part of the lineup. Boyer is also a good bunter and leads the team in SAC bunts. Both are solid defensively.

SS – JR David Bentrott (RH – .310/.412/.345, 0-5-1; ’09 – .224/.294/.383, 0-5-3) has started most of the time at SS over the last three years. He is the lineup for his glove and hasn’t been much of a hitter his first two seasons and was often overmatched at the plate (37 K’s in 107 AB’s in 2009) but has gotten off to a solid start. Bentrott will usually hit 9th when he’s in the lineup.

3B – FR Jacob Lamb (LH – .348/.423/.478, 1-10-0) has made a big impact in his first season and is 2nd on the team in AVG among the regulars and 2nd in RBI. He will usually hit 5th when he’s in the lineup. Lamb has struggled defensively and made five errors.

Outfield and DH

Washington lost their main power threat from the OF and their DH but returns several other OF’s who received playing time last season.

LF and RF – JR Julien Pollard (Both – .200/.286/.220, 0-2-0; ’09 – 228/.348/.356, 3-15-5), FR Brian Wolfe (LH – .182/.217/.182, 0-1-0) and Soph Sean Meehan (RH – .273/.385/.318, 0-1-0; redshirt in ‘09) have been sharing time at the corner OF spots. Boyer started in LF the last two games last weekend. Pollard is one of the faster runners on the team and will usually bat leadoff when he is in the lineup. Wolfe and Meehan will usually bat in the lower part of the lineup.

CF – Soph Caleb Brown (RH – .388/.474/.592, 2-7-1; 09 – .279/.377/.405, 3-14-5) is one of the better athletes on the team and is having an outstanding season and is leading the team in AVG, OBP, SLG and HR. He was batting sixth most of the time before moving up to 2nd and 3rd in the last two games last weekend.

DH – FR Chase Anselment (LH – .290/.371/.355, 0-5-0) has been the DH most of the time and usually hits 7th. Rankin will usually DH when he’s not caching.


Washington was competitive on the mound last season with two solid SP’s and two solid relievers but didn’t have enough depth for the Huskies to finish better than tied for 5th at 13-14 but they only return one of those SP’s and lost both of those relievers. The pitching staff has struggled this season with the staff ERA going up two full runs from 4.88 last season to 6.88 this year. After Andrew Kittredge the Huskies have struggled getting consistent outings from their SP’s and are moving two LHP relievers into the rotation this weekend.


FRI – JR Adrian Gomez (LHP – 1-0, 3.38 ERA, 5 apps, 0 starts, 13 IP, 14 H, 1 BB, 12 K, .250 BA, 1 HR, 1 HBP, 0 WP) will be making his first start of the season after having two solid long relief appearances earlier in the season. He allowed 4 R (1 ER) on 4 H with 5 K in 5 2/3 IP against Fresno and 1 R on 6 H with 5 K in 6 IP last Fri at BYU. Gomez was 1-3, 5.47 ERA last season in 10 apps (4 starts) and 26 IP.

SAT – Soph Andrew Kittredge (RHP – 3-1, 4.50 ERA, 1 save, 5 apps, 4 starts, 28 IP, 35 H, 4 BB, 35 K, .292 BA, 6 HR, 1 HBP, 1 WP) had a 2.93 ERA and had allowed 3 R in 5 IP going into the 6th inning last Saturday in the snow at BYU before allowing six runs. He held the powerful New Mexico State offense to 2 R on 7 H in 6 IP with 0 BB and 7 K opening weekend and followed that up by holding Fresno to 3 R and 7 H with 2 BB and 8 K in a CG loss, getting a save against Long Beach and a win when he allowed 4 R (1 ER) on 7 H in 7 2/3 IP with 0 BB and 10 K before his start at BYU. Kittredge had a solid FR season (4-5, 4.27 ERA, 72 IP, 71 H, 17 BB, 64 K) and is expected to be drafted in the first 5-7 rounds in next year’s draft.

SUN – JR Geoff Brown (LHP – 0-0, 6.92 ERA, 6 apps, 1 start, 13 IP, 21 H, 3 BB, 11 K, 1 HR, .350 BA, 3 HBP, 0 WP) allowed 8 R in 3 IP in his only start of the season opening weekend against Gonzaga. He has allowed 3 R (2 ER) in five relief appearances since then and is being moved back into the rotation. Brown made 31 relief appearances without a start last season (4-4, 5.01 ERA, 32 IP).


With the loss of their closer and primary set-up man Washington has had to try to sort out roles in the bullpen and has ended up going to a FR to close games.

FR Adam Cimber (RHP – 1-1, 6.97 ERA, 4 saves, 8 apps, 10 IP, 14 H, 2 BB, 8 K, .326 BA, 1 HR, 1 HBP, 0 WP) has had his ups and downs like the Huskies have. He threw three scoreless innings to get the win against Gonzaga opening weekend and then blew a save against Fresno State when he allowed 4 R in 1 2/3 IP. Cimber has gotten saves in his last three appearances.

Other relievers who will be available this weekend are former SP’s Soph Aaron West (RHP – 0-1, 9.00 ERA, 4 apps, 3 starts, 9 IP, 15 H, 7 BB, 7 K, 5 HR), JR Ben Guidos (LHP – 0-3, 10.20 ERA, 5 apps, 3 starts, 15 IP, 24 IP, 6 BB, 7 K, 0 HR) and JR Forrest Snow (RHP – 1-0, 8.10 ERA, 6 apps, 2 starts, 10 IP, 16 H, 6 BB, 8 K, 1 HR), Soph Brandon Rohde (LHP – 1-0, 8.44 ERA, 5 apps, 1 start, 11 IP, 15 H, 9 BB, 6 K, 1 HR) and JR Jacob Clem (0-1, 9.00 ERA, 5 apps, 7 IP, 5 H, 2 BB, 4 K, 1 HR).


Fullerton has started to show signs of life despite being swept in a two game midweek series against ASU. After averaging two runs per game in their seven losses during their 4-7 start the Titans have scored 38 R’s in their last five games. The starting pitching for Fullerton has started to come around with their four primary starters throwing the ball well lately.

Washington has had an up and down season in splitting their four weekend series but they are playing hard, which is a credit to their coaching staff. If Fullerton is going to win this series the Huskies will be going down fighting.

Fullerton should have the advantage on the mound on Friday night. Saturday should be a pitching duel between Noe Ramirez and Kittredge. If Mertins throws like he did against UAB he will give the Titans a good chance to win on Sunday.

The key to this series for Fullerton will be to establish things early in games both at the plate and on the mound. If the Titans are able to jump out to leads and build momentum Fullerton has a good chance to win this series. The longer the Titans let the Huskies hang around in games the more difficult it will be to win the series.

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