Friday, April 30, 2010

Diamond Club Newsletter (May 2, 2010)

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Thursday, April 29, 2010

Pacific Series Preview

By FullertonBaseballFan

Cal State Fullerton (25-13, 10-2) has continued to take care of business and their winning streak is now up to seven games and they have also won 13 of 15 games overall since the start of conference play. The Titans welcomed Pepperdine and Cal Poly to Goodwin Field last week and won all four games (12-5 against Pepperdine and 8-6, 11-3 and 9-2 against Cal Poly) while hitting.388 and averaging 10 runs per game to stay in first place by two games in the Big West. Leading the way for Fullerton were the Big West player of the week Nick Ramirez (9-14, 0 HR, 5 RBI), Gary Brown (9-18, 0 HR, 7 RBI), Tyler Pill (7-15, 1 HR, 5 RBI) and Joey Siddons (7-15, 1 HR, 5 RBI). The Titans received good starts on the mound from Daniel Renken (3 R allowed in 8 2/3 IP) and Tyler Pill (five shutout innings) against Cal Poly and eight innings of relief in three appearances (2 R allowed) from Dylan Floro. Fullerton continued to score runs in bunches on Tuesday at San Diego and needed to in a 13-10 comeback win with a two out, nobody on base rally in the 9th inning that was started by Richie Pedroza, who had four hits in the game, and finished by the game winning grand slam by Carlos Lopez. The Titans look to continue their hot streak this weekend as they travel up to Stockton to take on the Pacific Tigers.

Pacific (25-14, 7-5) went 21-32, 9-15 in 2009. That wouldn’t be a positive season for most programs but considering the Tigers won only 30 games overall and 8 conference games the previous two years, Pacific showed quite a bit of improvement that has carried over into this season. The Tigers had a dramatic hitting and fielding turnaround in 2009 and have six starting position players returning (along with a four year starter who redshirted in 2009) and a much improved pitching staff with several quality JC transfers. Pacific has won nine of their ten weekend series with their only series loss occurring at Long Beach State in their first conference series. The Tigers series wins include San Francisco, Nevada and USC (all at home) in non-conf series and UC Riverside (home), UC Irvine (away) and Cal State Northridge (home) in Big West series. Pacific has shown some tenacity the last two weekends after losing on Friday against Irvine and Northridge but coming back to win on Saturday and Sunday in both series.


Pacific was easily the worst hitting team in the Big West in 2007 and 2008 (averaging 4.5 runs per game and hitting .265 two years ago) but with most of the same players hit .322 (.332 in Big West games) and averaged seven runs per game, which is a credit to the coaching of Ed Sprague and assistant coach Don Barbara in his first year at Pacific. The Tigers have continued to hit well and are batting .329 (2nd in the conf) and averaging 6.5 runs per game (4th in the conf), although those numbers have tailed off during the conference season with Pacific hitting .301 and averaging 4.8 runs per game in Big West games with the Tigers scoring four runs or less in 7 of 12 conf games. Pacific doesn’t score their runs by powering up with the long ball (7th in the Big West with 21 HR’s) but puts pressure on the other team by making contact and hitting line drives from gap to gap (.456 SLG – 4th in the conf). Their game on Wednesday against Santa Clara is a prime example of this type of offense because the Tigers had 20 hits in a 12-7 win and 19 of them were singles. Pacific was at the bottom of the Big West in 2009 when it came to playing little ball with bunting and stealing but this year they are 4th in the conf in SAC bunts and 5th in SB’s. The Tigers are only 6-14 on SB attempts in Big West games but have laid down 15 SAC bunts in 12 conf games.

Pacific’s improvement last year with their position players wasn’t limited to what they were doing at the plate. The Tigers made 235 errors in the 2007 and 2008 seasons and cut that number down to 70 errors last year. Pacific is fielding even better this season and they are 2nd in the Big West with a .973 FLD %. The Tigers are very good defensively up the middle at C, 2B and SS (they have turned ten more double plays than anybody else in the Big West) and their corner infielders are also solid. Their outfield defense has been average.


Pacific has the most experienced infield in the Big West. The only starter that they lost from 2009 was 2nd team all-conf C Kurt Wideman and he is being replaced by a three year starter at C who redshirted last season.

C – SR #8 Joe Oliveira (RH – .315/.403/.408, 1-18-10; ’09 – medical redshirt) was 1st team all-conf in 2007 and honorable mention in 2008 but didn’t play last season due to an injured labrum in his shoulder. He is in his fourth year as a starter and is in the school’s all-time top ten in career G, AB, H and R. Oliveira got off to a bit of a slow start after taking last year off but has started hitting well with a .366 AVG in conf games and he drove in all four runs in their win last Sat against Northridge. He usually bats 9th but has hit 6th in the last three games. Oliveira doesn’t have much power but he is a very patient hitter (8th in the conf in BB) who handles the bat well and has six SAC’s. He does a very good job at blocking pitches, allowing the second fewest WP/PB in the conf, and is solid at throwing out runners (26-40 SB’s). Oliveira is 4-27 in his career against Fullerton.

1B – JR #32 Brian Martin (LH – .395/.449/.448, 0-27-0; ’09 - .333/.409/.484, 3-31-0) was a solid hitter in 2009 but has really taken off this year and is in the top ten in the conf in AVG (4th), H (2nd), 2B (5th) and OBP (8th). He doesn’t have much power but is a consistent line drive hitting machine in the 3rd spot in the lineup. Martin has gotten even hotter in Big West games and has gone 12-23 the last two weekends against Irvine and Northridge. He is a good defensive player and one of the better 1B’s in the conf. Martin was 4-12 at Fullerton last season and is 5-21 against the Titans in his career.

2B – JR #7 J.B. Brown (LH – .417/.434/.556, 4-24-3; ’09 – .378/.421/.550, 7-58-3) struggled as a FR both offensively and as a SS but was one of many Pacific players who showed drastic improvement in 2009, improving his AVG well over 100 points, and he was 2nd team all-conference after finishing in the top ten in AVG, SLG, H, RBI and TB. As good as Brown was last season, he has been even better this year and is in the top ten in the conf in AVG (2nd), H (3rd) and TB (7th) while batting 5th. The one thing that Brown doesn’t do well at the plate is show much patience because he has only walked three times. Because he is a former SS, Brown has outstanding range at 2B and easily leads the other 2B’s in the conf in total chances. He was 4-14 at Fullerton last season and is 5-21 against the Titans in his career.

SS – SR #2 Ben Gorang (RH – .286/.336/.345, 0-13-3; ’09 – .285/.338/.403, 3-28-3) is the glue that holds Pacific’s infield together and a big reason why they have shown major improvement on defense over the last two seasons. Gorang doesn’t have much pop in his bat and isn’t patient at the plate with only 7 BB’s but usually makes contact and is 2nd on the team with 7 SAC’s. He will usually hit 8th. Gorang was hitting over .300 before conf play started but is only hitting .167 in Big West games. He was 2-9 at Fullerton last season.

3B – SR #3 Mike Walker (LH – .353/.409/.569, 7-35-3; ’09 – .345/.424/.497, 6-34-3) was a productive hitter in 2009 and 2nd team all-conference but this year he has really taken off as the cleanup hitter and is in the top ten in the Big West in HR (4th), RBI (4th), TB (4th), R (5th), H (6th) and SLG (10th). Walker is in the school’s all-time top ten in career HR, RBI, H, TB and 2B. He struggled at Irvine two weeks ago (2-11) but bounced back against Northridge by going 5-11. Walker has a big swing and leads the team and is 8th in the conf in K’s. He has good range and leads all Big West 3B’s in total chances but has made nine errors. Walker was 4-12 at Fullerton last season and is 5-22 against the Titans in his career.


Pacific graduated two of their OF’s (including 2nd team all conf utility player Joey Centanni) so they have relied on a couple of reserves from last season to move into the lineup.

LF – SR #1 Matt Fuson (RH – .275/.322/.363, 1-14-3; ’09 – .196 in 46 AB’s) and JC transfer #24 Matthew Carvutto (RH – .275/.306/.362, 0-11-0) have split playing time in LF. Neither has much pop in his bat but they have combined to provide decent RBI production. Both have struggled in Big West play and combined to hit .167 (6-26) and whoever is in the lineup will likely be hitting 9th.

CF – Soph #11 Brett Christopher (Both – .313/.380/.503, 4-28-5; ’09 – .222 in 27 AB’s) barely played in 2009 with some solid players in front of him. This year he has gotten a chance to contribute and has made the most of it. Christopher is on a nine game hitting streak, will hit 2nd and does a good job of getting rallies going with his speed (tied for 2nd on the team in SB’s, 3rd in the conf in 3B’s) and by moving runners over and leads the conf with 8 SAC’s. He has gotten hot during Big West games and is hitting .383 during conf play with a team leading 15 RBI.

RF – JR #15 Nick Longmire (RH – .280/.397/.448, 4-21-5; ’09 – .385/.448/.596, 6-37-8) is the best athlete and draft prospect on the team and played like it in 2009 when he was 1st team all-conf, hitting .423 in Big West games, and was in the top ten in the conf in AVG, SLG, OBP, R, H and TB. Longmire is in the school’s all-time top ten in career R, H and TB. He has struggled this season (2nd on the team with 26 K’s) and is not playing at nearly as high of a level but he has done a good job as the leadoff hitter of getting on base and leads the Big West in BB’s and is 7th in R’s. Longmire has good speed and is tied for 2nd on the team in SB’s. He was 6-14 at Fullerton last season and is 9-24 against the Titans in his career.

DH – FR #20 John Haberman (LH – .382/.400/.500, 0-22-0) was on fire to start the season and hitting well over .400 for most of the non-conf portion of the season before cooling off once Big West games started and is hitting only .260 in conf games. He doesn’t have much patience at the plate with only four walks and doesn’t have much power but he is a contact making, line drive machine. Haberman will usually hit 7th.


The one area of the team that Pacific didn’t improve in last season was the pitching staff, which had a team ERA of 6.36 that was 8th in the Big West and kept the team from having more improvement with what was going on with the position players. Centanni was usually the only reliable SP for most of the season so to say there were many question marks going into this season would be an understatement. Pacific loaded up on JC transfers who have contributed right away and the result has been the staff ERA tumbling down almost 1 1/2 runs per game to 4.97, which is good enough for 4th in the Big West, with their five leaders in IP having a solid 3.88 ERA. The Tigers pitchers have usually done a good job of working down in the strike zone and getting ground balls and letting their good fielding infield do the rest. Pacific’s pitchers pitch to contact and are only 7th in the conf in K’s and have allowed the second highest AVG at .302, including .325 in conf games.


Fri – JC transfer #35 Marcus Pointer (RHP – 6-2, 4.52 ERA, 10 starts, 70 IP, 63 H, 29 BB, 45 K, .249 BA, 3 HR, 5 HBP, 1 WP) has been solid as the #1 SP and is 3rd in conf in W and IP and 5th in opps BA. Pointer was outstanding in his first five starts, winning each of them with a 2.06 ERA. He has struggled over his last five starts with a 7.20 ERA although two of them were solid when he allowed 1 R in 8 IP in a win at Long Beach and 4 R (3 ER) in a CG loss at Irvine while he allowed 24 R in his other three starts, all at home (San Jose, Riverside and Northridge last weekend when he allowed 8 R and 12 H in 6 2/3 IP). Pointer throws a fastball in the mid-80s, a changeup that he throws at any point in the count, a curveball to keep hitters off-balance and a slider as an out-pitch against RH hitters. He has allowed runners to go 6-8 on SB attempts.

Sat – SR #21 David Rowse (LHP – 7-0, 4.57 ERA, 10 starts, 65 IP, 82 H, 13 BB, 37 K, .320 BA, 6 HR) pitched primarily in relief last season (’09 stats – 3-2, team leading 3.99 ERA, 15 apps, 5 GS, 47 IP, 64 H, 19 BB, 20 K, .323 AVG) before making starts in the final three conf series with a 1.64 ERA in those starts. He has carried that success over to this year and leads the Big West in wins and is 6th in IP. Rowse has good control and mixes speeds but he doesn’t throw hard and pitches to contact, generating lots of ground balls but also allowing batters to hit .320, including .355 in Big West games. After allowing 13 R and 28 H in 16 IP in his first three conf starts, Rowse bounced back last weekend to shut down Northridge and only gave up 1 R on 5 H in 7 IP. He has done an outstanding job of controlling the running game and easily leads the Big West with seven pickoffs and only allowed one SB in five attempts. Rowse did not pitch at Fullerton in 2009 and has allowed 7 R in 5 IP in three apps in his career against the Titans.

Sun – JC transfer Jake Hummel (RHP – 5-2, 3.30 ERA, 3 saves, 14 apps, 7 starts, 60 IP, 63 H, 19 BB, 35 K, .270 BA, 5 HR, 2 HBP, 5 WP) started out the season as the closer and will usually be available on Fridays to throw an inning in middle relief if necessary. He was moved into the rotation a few weeks into the season and has usually done well and is 6th in the Big West and 8th in opps AVG. Hummel has been the most consistent SP during conf games with a 3.07 ERA with wins against Northridge (7 1/3 IP, 4 R, 11 H) and Irvine (7 1/3 IP, 2 R, 10 H) and a no decision against Riverside (6 IP, 1 unearned R, 8 H). He is another ground ball specialist who had only given up 2 HR’s before his start last week in windy conditions and allowed 3 HR’s to Northridge. Hummel has done a good job at holding runners and they are only 3-7 on SB attempts against him.


Pacific doesn’t have a deep bullpen but they have gotten solid work out of their primary set-up man and the two pitchers they have used in the closer position.

Closer – SR #41 Hunter Carnevale (RHP – 3-3, 2.88 ERA, 4 saves, 17 apps, 2 starts, 50 IP, 51 H, 10 BB, 41 K, .274 BA, 2 HR, 5 HBP, 0 WP) made two solid starts during non-conf games and was primarily a middle reliever until Hummel was moved into the Sun SP spot and he has taken over as the closer with some of the better stuff on the pitching staff. He has been pitching very well over the last three weeks, throwing 11 scoreless innings including a 5 2/3 IP appearance at Irvine, and is 2nd in the conf in ERA, 3rd in saves and 4th in appearances. Runners are 7-10 on SB attempts against Carnevale. He has allowed 13 R in 11 IP in two starts against Fullerton.

JC transfer #25 Robbie Richardson (RHP – 1-2, 3.71 ERA, 2 saves, 15 apps, 27 IP, 29 H, 8 BB, 12 K, .302 BA, 2 HR, 0 HBP, 0 WP) is a control specialist who has been the most reliable option to get the ball to the closer. He will be the RP most likely to be brought into games this weekend in the 6th or 7th inning unless Pacific is using Carnevale to try to get a multiple inning save.

Pacific doesn’t have too much faith in any of their other relievers to get outs in key situations because their other relievers all have ERA’s over 7. The LHP specialist is SR #22 Jamie Niley (0-0, 15.12 ERA, 10 apps 8 IP, 13 H, 12 BB, 3 K), who threw well last season at Fullerton in two appearances (6 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 8 K). LHP John Haberman has also pitched out of the bullpen (1-1, 7.97 ERA, 7 apps, 20 IP, 26 H, 12 BB, 17 K) but hasn’t made an appearance in a conference game. The other RHP’s are JR #29 Thomas Berolzheimer (0-0, 9.64 ERA, 7 apps, 5 IP, 5 H, 3 BB, 3 K), who was the closer in 2009 and had 5 saves, and SR #45 Casey Neimeyer (1-2, 7.45 ERA, 19 IP, 35 H, 4 BB, 10 K),


Both Fullerton and Pacific come into this series playing very confidently with the teams combining to win 13 of 14 series over the last seven weeks. The Titans have been steamrolling through teams with 7 of their 10 Big West wins coming by 5+ runs while the Tigers have been playing closer games with 5 of their 7 conf wins coming by 3 runs or less.

Pacific has some good intangibles going for them this weekend. The Tigers are 6-0 in home series and there are expected to be record crowds at Klein Field. Pacific won’t be intimidated by seeing the Titans across from them in the other dugout after winning last year’s series at Fullerton. The Tigers are looking to make a run at getting into a regional for the first time ever and will be very motivated this weekend because this is probably the biggest series in the history of their program.

Both teams have shown the ability to put up big numbers at the plate with two of the best hitting teams in the Big West. A key to winning this series is going to be which pitching staff can hold down the other team’s offense. These are the two best fielding teams in the Big West so there don’t figure to be too many extra outs given to the other team and any that are will be a bonus.

Fullerton has had the better overall pitching staff but that advantage has been diminished due to the injury to Noe Ramirez and the affect that has had on changing the roles for some of other the pitchers. Pacific has pitched much better this season but they have been up and down during Big West games and if they are going to win this series they are going to have to be more consistent.

Fullerton is going to have to bring their A game this weekend to win this series and the best way for the Titans to do that is by jumping on the Pacific pitching staff early. If Fullerton is able to do that the Titans have a strong chance of winning this series despite the issues with their pitching staff. If Pacific’s pitchers are able to hold the Fullerton offense down and the Tiger hitters are able to put some runs up on the board for Pacific to jump out to leads, the Tigers will have a good chance of winning this series.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Cal Poly Series Preview

By FullertonBaseballFan

Cal State Fullerton continued playing a solid brand of baseball last weekend as the Titans went up to UC Santa Barbara and won two out of three games against the Gauchos. After losing a 5-3 decision to tough LHP Mario Hollands on Friday, Fullerton broke out the bats and won their next two games 17-3 and 6-1. The Titans hit nine HR’s in the series and the leaders of a balanced attack were Big West player of the week Gary Brown (7-14, 2 HR, 6 RBI), Nick Ramirez (8-13, 3 HR, 4 RBI), Christian Colon (6-14, 3 HR, 7 RBI), Carlos Lopez (6-12, 3 RBI) and Tyler Pill (6-13, 1 HR, 3 RBI). Fullerton also received solid starts from Daniel Renken (3 R, 7 H with 8 K in 6 IP) and Tyler Pill (1 R, 3 H with 11 K in 8 IP) to allow the Titans to come back from a Friday loss for the second week in a row to win the series. After beating Pepperdine 12-5 on Tuesday the Titans have won 14 out of 18 games and have gone 15-3 over the last six weekends as they play their first weekend series at home in the last three weeks against the Cal Poly Mustangs.

Cal Poly (10-23, 3-6) finished 37-21 and in third place in the Big West in 2009, qualifying for a regional for the first time after near misses in 2005 and 2007. The Mustangs expected to make a run at getting back into post-season play despite losing three key players in their lineup (INF/OF Adam Buschini, CF Ryan Lee, SS Kyle Smith) with an experienced lineup and several starting pitchers returning. However, things have not gone as planned in SLO and this season has turned into a disaster. Cal Poly has not won a weekend series and were swept by UCLA and Houston and lost two out of three games to USC, USF and Cal. The Mustangs have also lost two out of three games in each of their Big West series (at UC Riverside, vs. UCSB and at Cal State Northridge) but despite going 4-17 after a 6-6 start they haven’t quit because Cal Poly has lost a one run game in each conference series that ended up being the deciding game in each of those series.


Cal Poly had one of the best offenses in the Big West in 2009 and expected to again have a productive lineup despite losing Buschini, Smith and Lee but that hasn’t come close to happening this year. The Mustangs were 1st or 2nd in the Big West in just about every major offensive category last season but they are currently last in the conf in AVG at .277, including .259 in conf games, after hitting .325 in 2009. Cal Poly was 2nd in the Big West in scoring last season but are only 6th in runs and have been limited to five runs or less in about half of their games. The Mustangs will work counts and see lots of pitches because they lead the conference in walks but they also aren’t making enough contact because they have 40 more strikeouts than any other Big West team. Cal Poly has also struggled to hit for power and is 6th in the conference in HR’s and 7th in SLG. The Mustangs usually will not play much little ball by bunting (two hitters have about half of their 21 SAC bunts) or stealing although they will take advantage of a team who is weak at stopping the running game and they stole seven bases last Sunday at Northridge.

Cal Poly was doing an adequate job on defense during the non-conf part of their schedule but things have gone south with their gloves recently. The Mustangs have committed 19 errors in the last ten games that have contributed to 18 unearned runs. Cal Poly’s FLD % is down to .965 (7th in the Big West) and they have committed 44 errors. They have inexperienced players on the corners, limited range in the middle infield and OF’s with solid range.


Cal Poly returned three starters around the infield but some injuries and lineup decisions have resulted in some players being shuffled around playing out of position and a weaker all-around defense than last season.

C – JC transfer #14 Elliot Stewart (RH – .227/.271/.348, 2-6-0) and Soph #12 Jordan Hadlock (RH – .319/.396/.383, 0-6-1; ’09 – 3-14) have been splitting time recently with Hadlock playing most of last weekend after Stewart was injured after one AB. If Stewart is able to play he will be in the lineup. Either would be likely to hit 6th or 7th. Hadlock was going to redshirt in 2009 but had to start against Fullerton due to injuries to the first two C’s and went 2-8 in the series.

1B/DH – SR #24 David Van Ostrand (LH – .282/.311/.412, 1-15-0; ’09 - redshirt) was splitting time in the lineup but has started 9 of the last 10 games due to injuries to other players. He is on a seven game hitting streak and has the best AVG on the team in conf games at .323 but is not a patient hitter and has only walked four times. Van Ostrand will usually hit 5th. He does not move well at 1B and has made eight errors.

SR #15 Ross Brayton (RH – .318/.356/.427, 2-21-1; ’09 – .393/.445/.518, 1-28-0) was honorable mention all conf as the starting catcher in 2009 but was moved to 1B after the first few weeks of the season. He has not hit as well as he did last year but he has been solid and is 2nd on the team in AVG and usually hits cleanup. Brayton has not started the last five games and was only available to pinch-hit last weekend. He is questionable for this weekend but if he can play 1B then Van Ostrand would start at DH. Brayton was injured and missed last year’s series against Fullerton.

DH – JR #31 D.J. Gentile (RH – .196/.361/.261, 0-9-1; ’09 – 304/.386/.459, 5-41-0) received regular playing time in 2009 but hasn’t played much this year until recently due to injuries to other players and has started the last seven games at DH. Gentile has not hit well but he is patient and has walked 10 times in 46 AB’s and hit 5th in all three games last weekend. He is 1-11 in his career against Fullerton.

2B – Soph #8 Matt Jensen (RH – .272/.374/.472, 2-29-2; ’09 – .375/.493/.650, 9-53-2) was the Big West FR of the Year in 2009 and 1st team all-conf despite missing the last fifteen games of the season (including the Fullerton series) because of a broken collarbone. He has been invited to try out for Team USA this summer, was drafted in the 11th round out of HS and is projected to go in the first few rounds of the 2011 draft. Jensen has been pitched around often this year and he is a patient hitter (2nd in the conf with 21 BB’s) but he has often chased pitches to try to generate some offense, resulting in much less power but he is still 6th in the conf in RBI. Despite not hitting as well as he did last year, Jensen is one of the most dangerous hitters on the team and will hit 3rd. Jensen has improved defensively from last year, making only two errors in the first 27 games before making two last weekend, but has average range.

SS – JR #20 J.J. Thompson (RH – .202/.350/.333, 2-9-1; ’09 – .292/.338/.439, 7-41-2) is another player who has not hit as well as he did in 2009 and he has been hitting either 8th or 9th. Thompson is a patient hitter who is tied for 2nd on the team in walks but is 2nd in the Big West in K’s and was 3rd in the Big West in K’s in 2009. He was the starting 3B last season, did not field well and made 15 errors. Thompson has struggled with the switch to SS, has limited range and has made 8 errors. He is 5-23 with an HR in his career against Fullerton. JC transfer #2 Mike Miller (RH – 4-25) has seen some time at SS and is a better defensive player but would be in the lineup primarily for his glove.

3B – FR #1 Evan Busby (Both – .253/.404/.313, 0-15-3) has been in the lineup almost every game hitting 8th or 9th. He doesn’t have much pop in his bat but is patient and is tied for 2nd on the team in BB’s. Busby is 2nd on the team with four SAC bunts. He has solid range at 3B but has struggled with consistently making plays and has made seven errors.


Cal Poly lost their CF from last season but returned three other OF’s who played regularly and have had a FR making a solid contribution.

LF – SR #5 Luke Yoder (RH – .315/.392/.591, 6-19-5; ’09 – .301/.416/.528, 9-40-9) is a four year starter and has been one of their most productive players. He is in the top ten in the conf in HR, SLG and 3B and gives Cal Poly power in the leadoff spot. Yoder has been one of the hotter hitters on the team and went 6-12 last weekend. He is one of the most patient hitters in the Big West and was 2nd in the conf in BB’s in 2009. Yoder also has an all or nothing swing and he led the Big West in K’s in 2009 and is 3rd this season. He has a good power/speed combo and was drafted in the 33rd round in 2008 as a draft eligible Soph but wasn’t drafted last year. Yoder is 5-16 with an HR in his career against Fullerton.

CF – SR #11 Adam Melker (LH – .290/.356/.430, 2-12-3; ’09 – .282/.387/.388, 0-26-3) is another player who has seen regular playing time for four years. He doesn’t have much pop in his bat and had only one HR in his career going into last weekend but he hit two HR’s at Northridge and went 5-9 for the weekend to raise his AVG by 25 points. He is a good bunter and was 3rd in the Big West in 2009 in SAC bunts and leads the team with six. Melker is a solid defensive player who has played all three OF positions in his career. He is 10-31 in his career against Fullerton.

RF – Soph #23 Bobby Crocker (RH – .304/.377/.440, 3-28-12; ’09 – .323/.419/.488, 5-24-10) is one of the better athletes on the team and is projected to be drafted in the first ten rounds in 2011. He has usually hit 2nd to combine with Yoder to give Cal Poly two SB threats at the top of the lineup and he is 4th in the conf in SB’s. Crocker has been a productive hitter and is 7th in the conf in RBI. He is also able to play CF with his good speed.

FR #19 Ryan Haniger (RH – .337/.409/.531, 4-20-3) got off to a great start in his FR season, leading the team in AVG and 2nd in SLG. He has missed the last five games with back problems and is questionable for this weekend. Haniger was drafted in the 31st round but decided to go to school and looks like a good prospect for the 2012 draft.


Cal Poly’s lineup was the strength of their team last season as the Mustangs hit their way to a regional. The pitching staff kept the team in games but usually wasn’t expected to carry the load for Cal Poly with a 5.95 team ERA that was 7th in the Big West. The Mustangs anticipated that their pitching staff would be better with all of their SP’s returning along with the expected return of Steven Fischback, their Friday SP in 2008, from a medical redshirt. But, things haven’t turned out the way that Cal Poly planned with Fischback unable to pitch and Mason Radeke, 6-2 as a FR in 2009 and 3-1, 2.96 ERA in four starts, missing the last six weeks. As a result, the staff ERA has gotten even worse this season and the Mustangs are last in the Big West with a 6.50 ERA. One of the main problems for Cal Poly has been allowing too many runners to get on base because they are next to last in the Big West in walks, last in AVG at .315 and they have also allowed the most extra base hits in the conf.


FRI – JR #27 Matt Leonard (LHP – 0-4, 4.25 ERA, 9 starts, 53 IP, 69 H, 13 BB, 27 K, .309 BA, 5 HR, 4 HBP, 5 WP) has been pitching better than his 0-4 record would indicate. He did not throw well in his first four starts but in his next four starts he had a 1.63 ERA and allowed 27 H in 28 IP against Cal, UCLA, Riverside and UCSB before allowing 6 R (3 ER) on 7 H and 4 BB in 4 IP last weekend at Northridge. Leonard is a finesse pitcher who relies on control and keeping the ball down and when his control is off or he gets the ball up is when he will give up the most damage and he has allowed 24 extra base hits. Leonard was the Sat SP last season (5-3, 7.68 ERA, 14 starts, 78 IP, 98 H, .317 AVG, 10 HR). He didn’t do a good job at holding baserunners in 2009 (15-20 SB’s) but has been much better this season (3-8 SB’s). Leonard allowed 5 R (4 ER) and 9 H in 6 IP in his start against Fullerton last year.

SAT – SR #44 DJ Mauldin (RHP – 2-1, 8.02 ERA, 9 apps, 6 starts, 34 IP, 48 H, 27 BB, 20 K, .343 BA, 1 HR, 8 HBP, 8 WP) was the Fri SP in 2009 (5-5, 4.75 ERA, 14 starts, 108 IP, 135 H, 31 BB, 65 K, .317 BA, 5 HR) but was not throwing well going into the season and started out in long relief. He was moved into the rotation after Radeke got hurt and has been inconsistent in allowing at least four runs in every start except for a good outing at Riverside when he allowed 2 R (1 ER) in 6 IP. Mauldin was a workhorse for Cal Poly in 2009 and was 3rd in the Big West in IP but his stuff hasn’t been the same this year and his control has been bad. He has allowed 14 R (11 ER) on 17 H and 8 BB in 11 IP in his last two starts against UCSB and Northridge. Baserunners are 14-19 on SB attempts against Mauldin the last two years. He allowed 4 R and 8 H in 5 2/3 IP in his start against Fullerton last season.

SUN – JC transfer #17 Eugene Wright (RHP – 1-2, 4.62 ERA, 12 apps, 2 starts, 37 IP, 37 H, 14 BB, 31 K, .257 BA, 2 HR, 3 HBP, 3 WP) was pitching in middle relief up until two weeks ago while Cal Poly went thru a couple of other unsuccessful options in the Sunday SP spot. After some good work out of the bullpen he was moved into the rotation against UCSB. Wright threw well and allowed only one run in six innings against the Gauchos before tiring and giving up five runs in the 7th. He threw well again last week at Northridge and allowed 3 R (0 ER) and 6 H in 6 1/3 IP. He has been the toughest pitcher to hit on the staff with the lowest AVG. Wright has also done a good job of holding runners and allowed only 2-5 SB’s.

Soph #34 Kyle Anderson (LHP – 1-4, 9.78 ERA, 7 starts, 39 IP, 65 H, 11 BB, 19 K, .380 BA, 5 HR, 3 HBP, 5 WP) was in the weekend rotation most of the season but has been moved to the midweek SP spot. Cal Poly didn’t have a midweek game this week and doesn’t have one next week so he will be available out of the bullpen.


The bullpen was a strength for Cal Poly last season with three reliable options that the Mustangs went to often to bail out the SP’s and finish off games. This season the bullpen has been a major weakness with only one of those relievers returning and blown leads costing Cal Poly games in each of their one run losses in conference games.

SR #28 Mark DeVincenzi (RHP – 0-2, 6.48 ERA, 2 saves, 12 apps, 17 IP, 18 H, 10 BB, 17 K, .273 BA, 3 HR, 1 HBP, 3 WP) has been the closer and is the only reliever returning who was relied on late in games and led the Big West in 2009 in appearances (’09 – 6-1, 4.26 ERA, 31 apps, 57 IP, 65 H, 21 BB, 55 K, 1 HR). He relies on a power sinker but hasn’t had control of that pitch this season, which has left him with only a fastball to get hitters out and the results haven’t been good. DeVincenzi blew saves against Riverside and UCSB and didn’t pitch last weekend despite all three games at Northridge being close ones. He has allowed 3 R in 5 1/3 IP in three appearances against Fullerton in his career.

Soph #39 Jeff Johnson (RHP – 2-3, 9.13 ERA, 14 apps, 24 IP, 28 H, 11 BB, 35 K, .286 BA, 4 HR, 1 HBP, 5 WP) is the hardest thrower on the staff but hasn’t had good command of his pitches most of the season. He threw well against Riverside (4 IP, 1 R, 3 H, 7 K) and UCSB (3 1/3 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 7 K) to get both wins for Cal Poly in those series but lost last Friday’s game at Northridge when he allowed 2 R in the bottom of the 8th and didn’t pitch in the other two games when both were decided late.

JR #35 Frankie Reed (LHP – 0-4, 7.58 ERA, 14 apps, 2 saves, 19 IP, 31 H, 12 BB, 14 K, .360 BA, 1 HR, 2 HBP, 1 WP) is the only LHP likely to pitch in relief. He took the loss last Sat when he allowed 3 R in the 8th after throwing three scoreless innings and came back on Sun for the save with 1 2/3 scoreless IP.

FR #30 Joey Wagman (RHP – 1-2, 6.90 ERA, 10 apps, 5 starts, 30 IP, 39 H, 23 BB, 23 K, .317 BA, 2 HR, 6 HBP, 7 WP) has bounced back and forth between the rotation and the bullpen but looks like he has settled in as a reliever. He allowed 2 R (1 ER) on 4 H in 3 IP but the key was not allowing any walks because his control has been poor all season.

JR #26 Tommy Erlin (RHP – 0-0, 9.72 ERA, 7 apps, 8 IP, 14 H, 6 BB, 9 K, .378 BA, 0 HR, 1 HBP, 2 WP) is the only other reliever likely to see any action this weekend after having one appearance in each conf series.


Fullerton will go into the series with Cal Poly heavily favored to take at least two games like they were in last weekend’s series at UCSB. The Mustangs have been more competitive recently but they are still finding ways to lose games. The Titans were finding ways to lose games in the first three weeks but have been finding ways to win them since their poor start.

The only way that Cal Poly is going to win this series is if Fullerton lets the Mustangs jump out to early leads and have their SP’s keep low pitch counts and stay in games for extended innings. If Fullerton’s SP’s hold down Cal Poly early in games and the hitters put some numbers on the board early, the Titans should win at least two games if not all three. Cal Poly’s offense has put up some numbers against mid-level pitching but has been held down by solid pitchers and their bullpen has usually not been able to hold anybody down.

Fullerton could have trouble in the first game of the series due to the questionable status of Noe Ramirez and the way that Matt Leonard had pitched in his four starts prior to last weekend. The Titans would be prohibitively favored in the other two games with the way that Renken and Pill have been pitching the last two weeks. Fullerton’s pitching staff does match up well with the mostly RH hitting Cal Poly lineup that is 5-7 against LH SP’s but only 5-16 against RH SP’s.

Fullerton has to make sure they do not overlook Cal Poly this weekend. The Titans usually play well against the Mustangs and have only lost one series to Cal Poly since they moved up to Division I in the mid 1990’s. If Fullerton continues to play like they have been the last six weeks then the Titans should win at least two games at home this weekend, if not all three.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Diamond Club Newsletter (April 25, 2010)

CSF Baseball will continue to host and archive the Diamond Club newsletters throughout the 2010 season. Click on each page to enlarge:

Thursday, April 15, 2010

UC Santa Barbara Series Preview

By FullertonBaseballFan

Cal State Fullerton went into last week playing some of their best baseball of the season after winning eight of their previous ten games.  The Titans played their best baseball of the season last week by beating #3 UCLA 6-1 last Tuesday and following that up by winning two out of three games at #18 UC Irvine (4-7, 6-3, 6-1) in a pivotal Big West series.  Fullerton didn’t put up the big numbers against the good pitching staffs of the Bruins and the Anteaters that they did against UC Davis but they did come out swinging at UCLA with three first inning HR’s and got several clutch two out hits against Irvine in the final two games of the series.  Leading a balanced attack at the plate for Fullerton was Big West player of the week Nick Ramirez with three HR’s and six RBI’s.  The Titans received some strong pitching with a 2.29 ERA for the week and the leaders were Daniel Renken (6 1/3 IP, 3 R, 1 ER) on Saturday, Tyler Pill (8 1/3 IP, 1 R, 0 ER) on Sunday and Dylan Floro with 4 2/3 scoreless innings and one save in two relief appearances. Fullerton has now won 11 out of 14 games and gone 13-2 over the last five weekends and the Titans are looking to carry that momentum into their series up the coast in Goleta with the UCSB Gauchos.

UCSB (14-12, 2-1) almost qualified for a regional in 2008 and was one of the last teams left out of the field after finishing tied for 3rd in the Big West and expected to be playing in a regional last year with some veteran hitters and a strong pitching staff returning.  The Gauchos got off to a solid 14-5 start but started playing poorly due to their pitching not performing well during the Big West season and ended up a disappointing 28-23, 11-13 and tied for 5th.  UCSB lost their Friday SP and 7 of the 11 hitters who had 100+ AB’s in 2009 so the expectations going into this season weren’t too high with the Gauchos predicted to finish 6th in the Big West and the results have been pretty average.  UCSB lost series at San Jose State, Stanford and Sacramento State and at home to New Mexico State (all 1-2 series losses) with their only series wins coming at home against Northern Illinois (4-0) and San Francisco (2-1) and at Cal Poly (2-1) in their first Big West series last weekend.


Caesar Uyesaka Stadium is a ballpark with standard dimensions (335 down the lines, 385 to the power alleys, 400 to center) that slightly favors hitters, especially right-handed hitters with the wind usually blowing in from the ocean and out to left field, and the UCSB lineup is built to take advantage of that with only one left-handed hitter.  The Gauchos will play for the big inning and swing for the fences and are 3rd in the conf in both HR’s and K’s and only 7th in AVG.  Despite having that kind of all or nothing offensive philosophy UCSB is only 6th in the Big West in scoring and SLG% although they have scored in double digits in their last three games against Cal Poly last weekend and Pepperdine on Tuesday.  The Gauchos hit or miss offense has usually fared well against midweek pitching and the lesser pitchers that they have seen but has struggled against front end starting pitching.  UCSB doesn’t have much team speed and they are 7th in the conf in SB’s and last in 2B’s.  They have decent patience at the plate and are 4th in the Big West in BB’s and 2nd in HBP’s.  The Gauchos won’t bunt much with two hitters accounting for 10 of their 17 SAC bunts. 

UCSB has a decent fielding team with a .968 FLD % and has made 32 errors playing on an uneven playing surface that is known for being difficult for infielders to get true bounces on grounders.  The Gauchos are solid around the infield and they have decent speed to run down balls in the OF but their LF and CF arms can be run on for extra bases.


UCSB went the JC route to fill some of the holes in their lineup at 1B, 2B and DH and return starters at C and SS with one of last year’s reserves taking over at 3B.  The Gauchos have been using the same six players around the infield and DH except for an occasional start by the backup C.

C – SR #26 Marty Mullins (RH – .292/.404/.472, 4-13-0; ’09 – .295/.344/.485, 4-19-0) is in his second year starting behind the plate and was honorable mention all-conf in 2009.  He usually hits 6th or 7th and is tied for the team lead in HR.  Mullins doesn’t have much speed with only one other extra base hit besides his HR’s but does a good job of working counts and making contact.  He is very good at blocking pitches and has only allowed 11 WP/PB but has only thrown out 4 of 25 base runners attempting to steal.  Mullins went 2-10 last year at Fullerton.  Backup C Soph #24 Bryce Tafelski (RH – 5-16) has started six times in mostly midweek games.

1B – JC transfer #35 Trevor Whyte (LH – .323/.393/.427, 2-19-0) broke out of a 3-for-23 slump by going 9-21 with 5 RBI in his last five games.  He leads the team in H and is 2nd in AVG and RBI.  Whyte isn’t patient at the plate with only 6 BB and is 3rd on the team with 20 K.  He will usually hit 5th.

2B – JC transfer #10 Sean Williams (RH – .288/.370/.433, 1-11-2) has hit 2nd and started at 2B in every game and has been solid defensively with only four errors.  He is a scrappy player who leads the team in BB and 3B and is 2nd in H, 2B and total bases.  Williams handles the bat well and leads the team with 6 SAC bunts.

SS – SR #8 Matt Valaika (RH – .315/.407/.478, 4-22-3; ’09 – .343/.411/.545, 6-45-1) was honorable mention all-conf in 2009 and drafted in the 20th round but decided to come back for his SR year.  Valaika was the 2B last season after playing SS in 2008 before being injured 17 games into the season.  He usually hits 3rd and is the best returning hitter for UCSB and was 1st in AVG and SLG and 2nd in H, RBI, TB and 2B last season.  Valaika got off to a bit of a slow start but has gotten hot and went 10-24 over the last five games.  He leads the team in OBP, R, RBI and HR (tied) and is 3rd in AVG, H and TB.  Valaika has solid range at SS but has made 8 errors.  He went 2-9 at Fullerton last season and is 6-21 with one HR in his career against the Titans. 

3B – Soph #17 Ryan Palermo (RH – .244/.323/.415, 2-14-0; ’09 – 6-12) wasn’t able to get much playing time last year but has been the everyday 3B this season.  He has struggled at the plate, is 2nd in K’s and will usually hit 9th.  Palermo has solid range at 3B.

DH – JC transfer #22 Beck Wheeler (RH – .333/.371/.481, 2-17-0) was one of the hottest hitters before going 2-12 at Cal Poly and leads the team in AVG and is 2nd in SLG.  He will usually hit 6th but has hit all over the lineup.  Wheeler is also the backup on the left side of the infield at SS and 3B.


UCSB lost their CF from last season but returned the other two starters, moving their LF to CF, and a part-time player in 2009 has taken over in LF.  Their CF and RF have started almost every game this season.

LF – SR #33 Ryan Tregoning (RH – .288/.377/.409, 0-15-3; ’09 – .310 in 58 AB’s) was only a part-time player the first few weeks of this season but has gone 14-39 since moving into the lineup on an everyday basis.  He has decent speed and can play CF, which he did for part of Tuesday’s game with Pepperdine.  Tregoning doesn’t have much power and usually hits 8th.  He went 0-3 last season at Fullerton.  Soph #2 Lance Roenicke (RH – .219 in 32 AB’s, 2 HR, 5 RBI) was playing more earlier in the year and has gotten only a couple of spot starts recently.

CF – SR #5 Gunner Terhune (RH – .290/.379/.400, 0-19-5; ’09 – .284/.320/.396, 1-22-10) was a 2B earlier in career, moved to LF last season and has started almost every game in CF.  He is a pesky hitter who is 2nd in BB’s and SAC’s as the leadoff hitter.  Terhune has good speed and is one of the few threats to steal and has been 2nd on the team in SB’s the last two years.  He went 1-12 last year at Fullerton and is 3-21 in his career against the Titans.  Terhune left Tuesday’s game early with an injury and if he is unable to play Tregoning would move over to CF. 

RF – JR #25 Mark Haddow (RH – .287/.392/.495, 4-19-2; ’09 – .298/.371/.521, 5-25-10) is probably the best athlete on team and likely to be one of the highest drafted position players on the team (along with Valaika) due to his power/speed combination.  He usually hits cleanup and leads the team in SLG, SB’s and total bases and is tied for the team lead in HR and 3B.  Haddow has a big swing and has struck out almost 30% of the time the last two seasons.  He is 0-3 against Fullerton in his career.


UCSB expected to have a strong pitching staff last season with the nucleus of a good weekend rotation returning but the two returning SP’s underperformed, the bullpen was poor and the staff ERA was 5.56 and a very mediocre 7.04 in conf games.  The pitching has been better for the Gauchos with the staff ERA nearly a run better at 4.69 with solid pitching most of the time from each of the weekend SP’s.  UCSB’s bullpen has been poor again this year, except for a recent strong stretch by one of their relievers, and blown leads and the occasional poor outing each weekend from one of the SP’s has resulted in several 1-2 series losses that could have been 2-1 series wins.  The pitchers for the Gauchos have usually done a good job of throwing strikes and have issued the 3rd fewest walks in the conf but they aren’t striking out many batters except for their Friday SP and are last in the conf in K’s.  Because most of UCSB’s pitchers don’t throw hard and are around the plate, they are allowing opponents to hit .283 and have given up 20 HR’s.


FRI – JR #11 Mario Hollands (LHP – 2-2, 3.12 ERA, 7 starts, 2 CG, 49 IP, 42 H, 19 BB, 53 K, .235 BA, 1 HR, 2 HBP, 3 WP) has been throwing very well despite winning only two of his seven starts and could have had a couple of more wins with better support.  He threw a CG in a 3-0 loss to Sac State and received two no decisions after leaving with a 9-1 lead against New Mexico State when the bullpen allowed 8 R in the last three innings and after allowing 3 R in 7 IP last week at Cal Poly.  Hollands is 4th in the conf in ERA, 4th in AVG and 3rd in K’s.  He was the 2008 conf FR pitcher of the year when he went 7-3, 4.03 ERA but slumped last year and went 6-6, 4-74 ERA with 37 BB and only 49 K in 89 IP.  Hollands’ fastball was sitting in the 86-88 range last year but he put on some muscle in the off-season and now has his fastball sitting in the 91-93 range to go with a changeup and a very good slider that sits in the 85-87 range.  He was projected to potentially be drafted in the first ten rounds last year as a draft eligible Soph but slid to the 24th round and with the way he is pitching this year he is very likely to be drafted in the first ten rounds, possibly the first 5-6 rounds.  Hollands has a good pickoff move and has picked off seven runners the last two seasons but he has a slow delivery to the plate that has allowed runners to go 17-24 on SB attempts the last two years.  He has been tough on Fullerton and threw a CG in 2008 when he allowed 2 R on 4 H and he went into the 9th inning last year with a 4-3 lead before tiring and taking a 5-4 loss.

SAT – JC transfer #20 Nick Capito (LHP – 4-2, 3.79 ERA, 7 starts, 2 CG, 40 IP, 59 H, 11 BB, 22 K, .307 BA, 5 HR, 8 HBP, 0 WP) has taken over the second spot in the rotation with strong control and is 9th in the conf in ERA.  He doesn’t throw hard but he has good command of the strike zone and keeps hitters off balance but because he is around the plate so much he is prone to giving up hits and has allowed at least 7 H in every start.  Capito is unusual for a crafty LHP because he pitches up in the zone and induces more fly outs than ground outs (67/46).  In his first six starts he allowed 2 ER or less five times and threw two straight CG’s with 131 pitches in his previous outing before his start last week at Cal Poly and he wasn’t sharp, allowing 9 R (6 ER) on 11 H and 4 BB.  Capito does a solid job of holding runners with two pickoffs and has allowed 4-6 SB’s.

SUN – JR #28 Jesse Meaux (RHP – 5-1, 4.38 ERA, 7 starts, 1 CG, 49 IP, 58 K, 9 BB, 21 K, .282 BA, 2 HR, 5 HBP, 2 WP) was originally the midweek SP and only joined the weekend rotation three weeks ago and is tied for the conf lead in wins.  He doesn’t throw hard but has excellent control and does a good job of keeping the ball down with a 59/43 ground out/fly out ratio.  Meaux has allowed 3 R or less in five of his starts, including a CG 10-3 win at Cal Poly when he allowed 8 H and 0 BB and got 16 ground outs.  Because Meaux does not throw hard, when he is off he is prone to giving up hits like he did in his two of his three starts prior to Cal Poly when he allowed 5 R on 10 H against UCLA and 9 R on 10 H at Sac State.  He does a poor job of holding runners and has allowed 16-17 SB’s the last two seasons.  Meaux has not pitched well against Fullerton and has allowed 9 R (7 ER) on 6 H in 2 2/3 IP in two appearances.  


The bullpen has been a major problem for UCSB this season with blown leads contributing to several of their series losses.  Things have started to get stabilized at the back end of the bullpen but there are still issues in middle relief.

Closer – JR #34 Greg Davis (RHP – 1-0, 2.63 ERA, 0 saves, 8 apps, 1 midweek start, 14 IP, 10 H, 1 BB, 14 K, .196 BA, 0 HR, 2 HBP, 0 WP) has taken control in the bullpen by throwing very well recently.  Before allowing a run on Tuesday against Pepperdine he had thrown ten scoreless innings in his previous five appearances, allowing only 4 H and 0 BB with 12 K and having very good command.  He finished last Sat’s game at Cal Poly with four scoreless innings and five K’s and he had three no-hit innings in a midweek start against LMU before the Cal Poly series. 

SR #31 David Meals (RHP – 2-4, 6.52 ERA, 1 save, 13 apps, 19 IP, 26 H, 5 BB, 14 K, .333 BA, 3 HR, 2 HBP, 3 WP) was effective as the closer in the non-conf part of last season but got hit hard during conf games (’09 stats – 3-2, 5.70 ERA, 5 saves, 43 IP, 43 H, 19 BB, 27 K).  He was still being used as the closer until Davis took over recently and Meals is now coming into games in middle relief.  He threw 2+ innings at Cal Poly and took the loss by allowing a run in the bottom of the 10th.

JC transfer #41 Connor Whalen (LHP – 0-0, 2.84 ERA, 10 apps, 6 IP, 12 H, 8 BB, 8 K, .387 BA, 0 HR, 0 HBP, 2 WP) is the only LHP in the bullpen and is the lefty specialist.  With Fullerton having several LH hitters in the middle of the lineup Whalen figures to come into a couple of games this weekend.

The other two middle relievers have starting pitching backgrounds.  JC transfer #23 Nick Loredo (RHP – 0-2, 7.63 ERA, 6 apps, 5 starts, 31 IP, 38 H, 13 BB, 14 K, .302 BA, 6 HR, 5 HBP, 0 WP) was in the weekend rotation the first month of the season but after poor starts against Northern Illinois and New Mexico State was replaced by Meaux.  He has made one relief appearance in the last three weeks and made the start against Pepperdine and allowed 7 R (5 ER) in 3 1/3 IP.  SR #12 Mike Ford (RHP – 0-1, 6.75 ERA, 9 apps, 13 IP, 17 H, 4 BB, 7 K, .298 BA, 3 HR, 7 HBP, 1 WP) was 2nd team all-conf in 2008 (6-4, 2.96 ERA) and big things were expected from him last year but he had trouble with minor injuries and his mechanics in the fall before last season and has never recovered.  He started 2009 in the rotation and ended up in middle relief by the end of the year after going 4-5, 6.75 ERA.


Fullerton goes into the series at UCSB looking like they are the better team.  The Titans offense has been better than the Gauchos, their pitching has been better and their fielding has been better.  But, UCSB has improved over the last three weeks and has won six of their last ten games with the offense starting to heat up and the starting pitching starting to gel.

Fullerton’s pitching staff matches up well with the UCSB lineup being almost entirely comprised of RH hitters.  The Gauchos are going to have to figure out how to generate some offense against the RHP heavy Fullerton rotation.  The front of UCSB’s rotation matches up well on Friday and Saturday with LHP’s going against the LH hitting middle of the Fullerton lineup.  Those are the key areas to watch this weekend. 

This doesn’t figure to be a one sided series because UCSB is looking to make a statement that they can be a contender in the conference race.  Although Fullerton has not lost a series at UCSB since 1985, the last three series up there have been closely contested with the Titans coming out of Goleta winning two out of three games each time.

Fullerton is going to have to play with the intensity both at the plate and on the mound that they showed last weekend at Irvine to win this series.  If the Titans take them lightly the Gauchos do have the starting pitching and could generate enough offense to steal this series.  If Fullerton does come out focused and ready to play they should win this series.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Diamond Club Newsletter (April 11, 2010)

CSF Baseball will continue to host and archive the Diamond Club newsletters throughout the 2010 season. Click on each page to enlarge:

Thursday, April 8, 2010

UC Irvine Series Preview

By FullertonBaseballFan

Cal State Fullerton has been on a major roll recently and is 12-4 over the last 16 games, including an 11-1 stretch over the last four weekends, after defeating #3 UCLA 6-1 on Tuesday night, improving their record against John Savage coached teams to 24-5. The Titans got their second series sweep in the past three weekends in their Big West opening series against UC Davis as Fullerton bludgeoned the Aggies pitching staff in the first two games in 20-4 and 23-7 blowouts before winning a 3-2 pitchers duel last Saturday. All nine regulars hit at least .375 and Fullerton hit a blistering .461 for the weekend, four Titans combined to hit five HR’s (two by Christian Colon) and the RBI leaders were Nick Ramirez (nine, including a grand slam) and Tyler Pill (seven).

The Titans also received strong starts from Noe Ramirez (7 IP, 3 R, 2 ER) on Thursday and Kyle Mertins (6 2/3 IP, 2 R) on Saturday to keep the team in the game after the Aggies led 2-0 going into the bottom of the 5th before Pill’s two run double tied the game and Billy Marcoe’s HR in the 8th won it. Fullerton will need to keep playing well this weekend as the Titans travel to south Orange County to play the UC Irvine Anteaters in an important Big West series that figures to have a big say in who wins the conference championship.

UC Irvine (17-9) is the defending Big West champions and had their best regular season ever in 2009 when they were ranked #1 in the country for the last month of the season. With an experienced and veteran laden team returning the expectations for the Anteaters were sky high going into the season and like Fullerton they were ranked in the top ten in the nation. Similarly to the Titans, Irvine has also struggled to meet those expectations. The Anteaters flew across the country to play in Coastal Carolina’s tournament the second weekend of the season and came home with their tails between their legs after going 1-3 as part of a stretch where they only went 10-8 against a middling schedule (they have only played two games against teams in the top 50 in the RPI and lost both of them to Coastal Carolina). Irvine has started to come out of their slumber by winning four straight games including a sweep at Cal State Northridge in their Big West opening series before losing 6-5 to San Diego State on Tuesday.


Anteater Ballpark is notorious for being beneficial to pitchers due to the spacious dimensions and ample foul territory as well as the cool damp air at night. But this season, it has been a much different story for the Anteaters at home where they are 9-2, averaging 8.8 runs per game and hitting .337 in their home games. Irvine’s approach at the plate has gradually changed in the three years that Mike Gillespie has been the coach as they have gone from a team that played quite a bit of little ball with bunting, hit and runs and stealing bases to a team that is hitting for more power and hitting the ball in the gaps and relying less on playing little ball to score runs. The Anteaters are 4th in the conf with a .321 AVG and 3rd in the conf in scoring, SLG and OBP while ranking next to last in the conf with only 15 SB’s. Irvine will make pitchers work because they are 3rd in the conf in BB and have almost 40 fewer strikeouts than any other team.

Irvine traditionally has one of the better defensive teams in the conference and this season isn’t any different. The Anteaters struggled some defensively when they weren’t playing well but they have picked it up in the field lately and have made only one error in their last seven games. Irvine has a .972 FLD % and has made 28 errors.


Irvine has three very experienced players at C, 1B and 2B and all three of them are solid all around players offensively and defensively. The two starters Irvine lost were 1st team all-conf players – Big West Player of the Year SS Ben Orloff and 3B/OF Eric Deragisch and both were SR’s. Their replacements were in the program last season although one was a utility infielder and the other redshirted.

C – SR #20 Francis Larson (RH – .288/.333/.462, 3-22-0; ’09 – .309/.350/.532, 9-43-5) is in his third year as a regular and his second year starting behind the plate. He usually hits 5th or 6th and is 2nd in HR and RBI. Larson was 1st team all conf in 2009 and led the team in HR, RBI and total bases and was 2nd in 2B and SLG. He also led the team in K’s and leads the team this season. Larson is a good defensive C who has thrown out about half the baserunners attempting to steal the last two seasons (9-18 this year and 26-49 in 2009). He is 9-26 with one HR in his career against Fullerton.

DH – Soph #24 Ronnie Shaeffer (RH – .356/.418/.540, 3-14-1; ’09 – .388/.441/.533, 4-36-4) was 2nd team all conf in 2009. He wasn’t playing much the first month of the season but once he got his chance he did nothing but hit and was 3rd in the conf in AVG, led the team in SLG and was 2nd in OBP. Shaeffer will usually hit 5th or 6th and has been one of Irvine’s better hitters again this season and went 7-13 last weekend at Northridge. He is also the backup C and will be the starter behind the plate in 2011. Shaeffer went 3-11 against Fullerton in 2009.

1B – SR #14 Jeff Cusick (RH – .371/.446/.588, 4-28-0; ’09 – 293/.375/.437, 6-40-2) is a four year starter who has been a little overlooked during his career but is having an outstanding SR season. He leads the team in HR and RBI and is 2nd in SLG while hitting primarily in the cleanup spot and is on a 17 game hitting streak. Cusick was among the team leaders in 2B, HR and RBI in 2009, is the most patient hitter on the team and has led Irvine in BB’s the last two years. He is a solid defensively and a good athlete around the bag at 1B. Cusick is 5-25 in his career against Fullerton and hit 2 HR’s in last year’s series.

2B – SR #27 Casey Stevenson (LH – .305/.402/.453, 2-21-2; ’09 – .346/.441/.503, 3-41-8) was 2nd team all conf in 2009 and has quite a bit of power for a middle infielder. He led the team in 2B, was 2nd in RBI and 3rd in SLG in 2009. Stevenson got off to a bit of a slow start but broke out last weekend at Northridge with 4 H’s and HR and 5 RBI’s in the opening game. He was hitting 2nd most of the season but has led off the last four games and will do anything to get on base, leading the conf with 22 HBP’s in 2009 and leading the team again this season. Stevenson also handles the bat well and leads the team with SAC bunts. He is one of the better defensive 2B’s in the conf. Stevenson is 5-20 with one HR in his career against Fullerton.

SS – Soph #32 D.J. Crumlich (RH – .214/.377/.262, 0-6-2; ’09 – .261/.351/.323, 1-30-4) has been a part-time starter the past two seasons, at 3B in 2009 and SS this year, but has struggled with injuries and physical ailments that have kept him from playing more. He is healthy now and has started in 7 of the last 9 games and went 4-9 at Northridge last weekend. Crumlich is one of the more patient hitters on the team and will usually hit 9th. He is solid defensively and will make the plays on balls that he gets to. Crumlich went 2-8 last year at Fullerton. Soph #11 Tommy Reyes (RH – .226/.351/.274, 0-5-2; ’09 – .348 in 92 AB’s) started most of the year at SS before Crumlich returned a couple of weeks ago. Reyes had a very good FR season when he was honorable mention all-conf but has struggled at the plate and will usually hit 9th. He has a bit more range than Crumlich but is prone to making more errors.

3B – JR #5 Brian Hernandez (RH – .366/.408/.516, 2-20-2) was forced to redshirt in 2009 due to a paperwork issue with his transfer to Irvine and has been busy taking out his frustrations on pitchers this season. He usually hits 3rd and has been a line drive hitting machine who went 8-14 with 6 RBI last weekend at Northridge. Hernandez does a good job defensively at 3B.


Irvine returns all of their OF’s from 2009 except for part-time OF Deragisch and has had several players fighting for playing time. The Anteaters will usually put their best offensive lineup in the game and then make substitutions late in games when they are leading.

LF – JR #36 Ryan Fisher (LH – .391/.458./609, 3-12-2; ’09 – .320/.412/.520, 4-28-2) was 3rd on the team in SLG in 2009 but wasn’t playing much the first couple of weeks. When Fisher got into the lineup he started mashing the ball and has rarely been taken out since and leads the team in AVG, OBP and SLG while usually hitting 7th. He is an average defensive player who will often be replaced late in the game. Fisher is 4-13 in his career against Fullerton. If Fisher isn’t in the lineup, another candidate would be #33 Soph Jordan Leyland (RH – .448 in 29 AB’s; ’09 - .310 in 42 AB’s).

CF and RF – Irvine has been using lots of players in the OF so there figure to be several players out there this weekend. JR #2 Sean Madigan (LH – .323/.405/.331, 1-12-1) was a regular his first two seasons (hit a combined .330 in ’07 and ’08) but injured his knee the second weekend of 2009 and had to take a medical redshirt. Madigan will usually hit leadoff when he is in the lineup but has missed the last four games and is questionable this weekend.

SR #8 Cory Olson (RH - .227 in 22 AB’s; ’09 – .315/.394/.495, 4-18-3) was the regular CF most of last season before injuring his ankle and missing the last month of the season. He has seen limited playing time and usually enters the game as a defensive replacement. SR #15 Dillon Bell (LH – .250 in 28 AB’s; ’09 – .274/.378/.405, 2-21-1) has also found himself in a struggle for AB’s after being a part-time player in 2009. He will often come into games for defense in the corner OF spots. Soph #43 Jordan Fox (LH - .302 in 43 AB’s; ’09 - .289 in 38 AB’s) has seen the most playing time of these three players because he has been the best hitter this season.

JC transfer #26 Jonathon Hurst (RH – .355 in 31 AB’s) has been seeing the most time in RF recently because he has been the hottest hitter in the OF besides Fisher. If Hurst isn’t in the lineup then Fox or Bell would be in RF if Madigan is in CF.


Irvine’s program has been built on solid pitching going back to when John Savage and then Dave Serrano were the head coaches and that is still the case with a veteran rotation and closer. Irvine has a team ERA of 4.11 that is just behind Fullerton for the conf lead. Former Fullerton pitching coach Ted Silva has the Anteaters pitching well after they got off to a terrible start when they allowed 77 R in the first 10 games and opponents hit .325. Irvine has been allowing 3.5 runs per game the last 16 games and opponents have only hit .251 during that time. The Anteater pitchers will throw strikes and are allowing only 2.4 walks per game (4th nationally) and have hit the fewest batters in the conf while ranking in the top 30 nationally averaging 8.5 K’s per 9 IP.


FRI – SR #3 Daniel Bibona (LHP – 4-2, 2.54 ERA, 7 starts, 50 IP, 38 H, 11 BB, 60 K, .213 BA, 2 HR, 1 HBP, 3 WP) was the Big West pitcher of the year in 2009 (12-1, 2.63 ERA, 106 IP, 78 H, 26 BB, 108 K, .209 BA, 7 HR) but didn’t sign with the Cardinals after being drafted in the 16th round. He is a crafty lefty with great command of a mid 80’s fastball, an outstanding changeup, off-speed pitches and a cut fastball he has added this year. Bibona has had two poor outings when he allowed 11 R in those starts but has also had five outstanding starts when he allowed 6 R (4 ER) and 21 H total with double digit strikeouts in each of those starts. He has allowed 21-42 SB’s the last three years (3-8 this season). Bibona was excellent in his start last season at Fullerton when he threw 8 shutout innings. The Titans also struggled to hit Bibona at Irvine in 2008 when he held Fullerton scoreless for five innings before allowing 4 R in the next two innings.

SAT – SR #21 Christian Bergman (RHP – 3-1, 6.02 ERA, 9 apps, 7 starts, 40 IP, 58 H, 7 BB, 33 K, .339 BA, 4 HR, 2 HBP, 4 WP) was 2nd team all conf in 2009 (9-3, 3.50 ERA, 98 IP, 111 H, 16 BB, 66 K, .288 BA, 9 HR) but he hasn’t pitched up to expectations most of this season. He had two poor starts in his first three outings, allowing 12 R in 8 IP to LMU and St. Mary’s, but has pitched better in three of his last four starts when he allowed 7 R in 21 IP in those three starts, including 3 R (2 ER) in 6 IP at Northridge, but allowed 6 R in 3 2/3 IP at Nevada two weeks ago. Bergman does not have overpowering stuff and pitches to contact with an upper 80’s fastball and a sinker-slider mix to get batters to hit the ball into the ground. He does a very good job at holding runners and has allowed 10-30 SB’s the last three years (1-4 this season). Bergman had allowed 4 R’s on 8 H’s in 6 IP in three career appearances against Fullerton before holding the Titans to 1 R on 7 H in 5 2/3 IP last season.

SUN – SR #55 Eric Pettis (RHP – 5-0, 3.08 ERA, 2 saves, 9 apps, 7 starts, 53 IP, 54 H, 12 BB, 29 K, .265 BA, 0 HR, 3 HBP, 2 WP) was 1st team all conf in 2009 (5-2, 3.86 ERA, 17 saves, 29 apps, 42 IP, 47 H, 7 BB, 37 K, .296 BA, 6 HR) and was an All-American closer the last two years but has been converted to a SP this season. Pettis closed a couple of games earlier this year but Irvine has straightened things out in the bullpen so it’s unlikely he would relieve on Fri before taking his turn on Sun. Pettis takes a similar approach to Bergman in pitching to contact to get hitters out and has a very effective changeup. He has kept Irvine in every game and hasn’t allowed more than 4 ER in any of his starts and has allowed 5 R twice, allowing unearned runs in both of those starts. Pettis has allowed 5 R (3 ER) on 11 H in 7 IP in his career against Fullerton.

JR #13 Crosby Slaught (RHP – 8-0, 4.62 ERA, 16 starts, 76 IP, 87 H, 23 BB, 52 K, .297 BA) was expected to be a major contributor this season after being the Sun SP in 2009 but has been dealing with arm injuries and has only appeared twice in relief.


Closer - SR #17 Kyle Necke (RHP – 1-3, 3.76 ERA, 5 saves, 12 apps, 2 midweek starts, 26 IP, 31 H, 3 BB, 30 K, .301 BA, 2 HR, 1 HBP, 2 WP) contributed to the bullpen’s struggles when he allowed 8 R in his first 2 IP. He has been outstanding since then and had not given up a run in 11 IP over seven appearances before blowing the save against San Diego State when he allowed 2 R in the 9th inning on Tuesday. Necke has a power arm with a low 90’s fastball and a cutter that he added in the middle of last year that made him very effective in the last month of the season as a set-up man for Pettis. He has thrown five innings in both of his midweek starts and will be able to come into a game and throw 2+ innings in a save situation.

The middle relievers most likely to come into close games are FR #23 Andy Lines (LHP – 1-0, 5.40 ERA, 1 save, 11 apps, 7 IP, 4 H, 3 BB, 10 K, .182 BA, 0 HR, 1 HBP, 1 WP), Soph #22 Matt Summers (RHP – 1-2, 7.98 ERA, 10 apps, 2 midweek starts, 15 IP, 22 H, 7 BB, 17 K, .355 BA, 1 HR, 3 HBP, 2 WP), FR #28 Kyle Hooper (RHP – 0-0, 4.61 ERA, 8 apps, 14 IP, 21 H, 1 BB, 12 K, .344 BA, 1 HR, 1 HBP, 1 WP) and Soph #18 Nick Hoover (RHP – 0-0, 1.93 ERA, 6 apps, 5 IP, 2 H, 3 BB, 7 K, .133 BA, 0 HR, 2 HBP, 0 WP). Irvine will take it by batter by batter with these four, especially with situational LHP Lines who could see action in a couple of games this weekend with all of the LH hitters in Fullerton’s lineup. Summers and Hooper have two of the best arms on the pitching staff with low 90’s fastballs.


There won’t be too many secrets among the coaching staffs of Fullerton and Irvine with Serrano and his staff having coached many of the position players and pitchers on Irvine’s roster and Gillespie very familiar with Fullerton after having coached against the Titans since the 1980s. An interesting intangible in this series is the visiting teams are 10-5 in the five series the teams have played over the previous four seasons.

The pitching staffs and offenses for both Fullerton and Irvine are pretty much mirror images of each other. Both teams got off to slow starts on the mound and at the plate but have been doing better in both areas recently.

Fullerton’s offense was completely stifled when they were held to seven runs in three games by Irvine in last year’s series. If the Titans are going to win this series the bottom line is they are going to have to figure out how to be more productive offensively.

Fullerton’s weekend starting pitching has been struggling after Noe Ramirez and both Daniel Renken and Tyler Pill are going to need to show improvement this weekend for Fullerton to win the series. Christian Bergman and Eric Pettis are veterans and are likely to make it tough on the Fullerton hitters.

The key to winning this series of pretty evenly matched teams will probably come down to Friday night’s matchup of Ramirez vs. Bibona. As the home team Irvine would be more likely to be able to lose the first game and come back to win the next two games and the series. Fullerton needs to play with a great sense of urgency on Friday night to win that game and split the next two games because it would be difficult to drop Friday’s game and win the next two games to win the series.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Diamond Club Newsletter (April 4, 2010)

CSF Baseball will continue to host and archive the Diamond Club newsletters throughout the 2010 season. Click on each page to enlarge: