Thursday, June 2, 2011

Fullerton Regional Preview

Preview by FullertonBaseballFan

Cal State Fullerton went into last weekend needing only one win to clinch their second straight Big West title and it took a little longer than expected last weekend to clinch the conference championship but the Titans eventually did take care of business at Cal State Northridge.

Fullerton came back from their weekend off in the Big West schedule and extended their winning streak to five games with a 6-4 win against San Diego. Michael Lorenzen drove in two runs with a two out single in the fourth inning to give the Titans the lead and Fullerton scored four more runs in the seventh inning to give them a five run lead with Tyler Pill finishing off the scoring with a two run single. The Toreros rallied to score three runs in the ninth and Nick Ramirez was summoned over from 1B to finish things off for his Big West leading fifteenth save.

The Titans drove up to Northridge and didn’t play well in losing the opener of the series 5-4 last Friday. Vincent Roberts held the Titans to only two hits before being taken out in the seventh and Fullerton only had five hits on the day. Fullerton trailed 2-0 going into the seventh and scored once only to see the Matadors score twice in the seventh to increase the lead. Fullerton came back with a two runs in the eighth to cut the lead to 4-3 only to have Northridge score again. The Titans tried to come back once more in the ninth and scored once to cut the lead to 5-4 but couldn’t get the tying run across. Fullerton’s bugaboo this season reared its ugly head again as the Titans committed two errors and there were a couple of more plays that were charitably ruled hits.

Fullerton finally clinched the Big West conference championship on Saturday with a 6-0 win. Tyler Pill threw seven shutout innings and allowed only five hits with no walks and six strikeouts. Ryan Ackland finished things off by allowing only one hit in two innings. The Titans jumped out to a lead on a two run double in the first inning by Nick Ramirez and scratched out a run in the second but were held down until breaking out for three runs in the seventh to put the game away with Carlos Lopez and Greg Velasquez having RBI singles in the inning. The first seven batters in the lineup all had hits for the Titans.

Fullerton wrapped up the regular season and the series with an 11-6 win. The Titans had their hitting shoes on as they rapped out seventeen hits and four hitters had three hits - Lorenzen, Jared Deacon , Richy Pedroza and Pill, who also had four RBI and hit his first HR of the season. Christian Coronado threw five effective innings in his first start for the win and Ramirez came in late when Northridge started to rally to finish things off for his sixteenth save as he moved into second on Fullerton’s single season save list and tied the school career save record that he now shares with former Titan standout Chad Cordero.

Post-season play starts this weekend with Fullerton hosting a regional for the eighth time in nine seasons at Goodwin Field. The first game of the regional will be played at 4:00 on Friday with the second seeded Stanford Cardinal playing the third seeded Kansas State Wildcats. The second game will be played at 8:00 on Friday with Fullerton playing the fourth seeded Illinois Fighting Illini.

2 Seed – Stanford Cardinal
  • Overall Record – 32-20
  • Conference Record – 14-12 (5th place)
  • How they qualified for a regional – At-large
  • Last Regional Appearance – 2010 (0-2 at Fullerton regional. Lost to New Mexico and Fullerton)
  • RPI/ISR – 15/16
  • SOS – 24 (RPI)/3 (ISR)
  • Record vs. tournament field – 13-12
  • Record vs. top 50/top 100 RPI – 13-12/20-18

Season Summary

Stanford had similar records the past two seasons, going 30-25, 13-14 in 2009 and 31-25, 14-13 in 2010 but they didn’t play in a regional two years ago and were eliminated after losing their first two games at the Fullerton regional last season. The Cardinal entered this season with high expectations after returning six regular position players and most of their pitching staff from 2010 and bringing in one of the best recruiting classes in the country. Stanford was picked to finish second by the Pac Ten coaches and they were ranked in the top twenty in just about every pre-season poll and ranking.

Stanford got off to a slow start this season against a schedule that would make just about any team in the country start slowly with three straight road series at national seeds Rice, Vanderbilt and Texas. The Cardinal won the series at Rice but lost two of three to both Vanderbilt and Texas. Stanford has been an inconsistent team that has only won seven of their thirteen weekend series, winning series against regional teams like UCLA, Arizona and Cal and losing series to teams that aren’t playing in the post-season like USC and Oregon. They also lost both series to regional hosts Oregon State and ASU. Despite being an experienced team, Stanford is also a young team with FR and Soph’s holding down seven spots in the lineup.

Stanford has recruited very well the last two years and the result has been an increase in the talent level around the diamond. The Cardinal improved their team average from .288 to .300 this season despite having to use the new BBCOR bats. Stanford is pretty much a station to station offense that looks to put together rallies by stringing several hits together and doesn’t rely too much on hitting HR’s or small ball and ended up 9th in the Pac Ten in SB and SAC’s. The Cardinal also isn’t a patient team at the plate and ranked last in the Pac Ten in walks and finished in the middle of the pack in the conf in strikeouts. Stanford has had their issues with scoring runs and they have been held to four runs or less in about half of their games.

Stanford anticipated they would have a good pitching staff with the return of almost every pitcher except for their closer but they got some bad news right before the season when their expected Friday starter was injured and lost for the season. The Cardinal shuffled some pitchers into different roles and they have pitched well most of the time with their staff ERA coming down over a run per game to 3.50. Stanford’s staff isn’t particularly deep and they have relied mostly on seven pitchers but six of them have ERA’s in the low 4’s or better. Stanford has held their opponents to four runs or less in 34 of 52 games.

  • Park Factor according to Boyd’s World – 87 (decreases offense by 13%).
  • Batting Average – .300 (NCAA ranking – 51, Conf ranking 3)
  • Runs – 278 (189, 4), 5.3 per game
  • Home Runs – 23 (167, 6)
  • Stolen Bases – 29 (276, 9)
  • Slugging Percentage – .406 (85, 3)
  • On Base Percentage – .360 (DNR, 4)
  • Walks – 148 (265, 10), 2.8 per game
  • HBP’s – 34 (268, 10)
  • Sac Bunts – 25 (254, 9)
  • Strikeouts – 378 (DNR, 4), 7.3 per game

Batting Order

C #5 SR Zack Jones (RH – .268/.343/.432, 4-28-6) is in his fourth year as a starter and is a good athlete for a catcher, splitting time between 3B and C during his career and catching every game this season. He led Stanford with ten SB’s in 2010. Jones got off to a terrible start with only one RBI in the first month of the season but has hit well over .300 the last two months and tied for the team lead in HR. He is a good bunter and is tied for the team lead with five SAC’s. Jones missed the 2010 regional with a broken finger and is 7-29 with six RBI in his career against Fullerton.

DH #29 SR Ben Clowe (RH – .232/.307/.360, 2-10-2) has started games at C, 1B and OF during his career but has primarily been the DH this season and started in about half of their games. He hit .346 in part-time duty in 2010. Clowe is tied for the team lead with five SAC’s. He is 3-11 in his career against the Titans and went 1-5 last season at Fullerton.

LF #7 Soph Tyler Gaffney (RH – .320/.421/.478, 3-32-6) is one of the best athletes on the team and is a RB on the football team. He has a good power/speed combo and leads the team in SLG and SB. Gaffney also has very good plate discipline with a solid BB/K ratio (28/28) and leads the team in walks. He is currently on a 17 game hitting streak. Gaffney was honorable mention All-Pac 10. He went 2-5 with a HR last season at Fullerton.

3B #25 Soph Stephen Piscotty (RH – .361/.424/.455, 2-36-2) is the only player for Stanford who was named 1st team All-Pac 10 after finishing in the top ten in the conference in AVG, H, TB and OBP. He was second on the team in RBI. Piscotty was converted from the OF this season and has done a solid job defensively after a slow start adjusting to the hot corner. He went 2-5 with a HR and 4 RBI last season at Fullerton.

1B #21 FR Brian Ragira (RH – .321/.358/.466, 4-40-1) was the Pac 10 Freshman of the Year and honorable mention all-conference. He tied for the team lead in HR, led the team in RBI and finished second in AVG and SLG. Ragira has below average plate discipline with a 13/44 BB/K ratio and finished in the top ten in the Pac 10 in strikeouts.

SS #3 Soph Kenny Diekroger (RH – .299/.353/.373, 2-29-2) was a second round draft pick out of HS and was the Pac 10 Freshman of the Year in 2010 when he led the team with a .356 AVG and 41 RBI. He was hitting over .400 for most of the first half of the season before slumping during the Pac 10 schedule. Diekroger went 1-3 last season at Fullerton.

RF #30 FR Austin Wilson (RH – .313/.349/.413, 4-22-1) was a potential first round pick out of HS and was drafted only in the 12th round because of his decision to go to school. He has strong potential to be a power hitter as he gains more experience and is tied for the team lead in HR and was honorable mention All-Pac 10. Wilson hit well during the Pac 10 schedule and raised his average over 30 points from where it was during the non-conf schedule. He needs to improve his plate discipline because he has a bad 7/53 BB/K ratio.

2B #8 FR Lonnie Kauppila (Both – .288/.333/.359, 1-20-0) was hitting under .200 for the first month of the season before going on a scorching hot 15-20 stretch the first week of April and has been hitting in the .300’s since then. Kauppila doesn’t walk much but does a good job of making contact (11/23 BB/K ratio).

CF #24 Soph Jake Stewart (RH – .294/.341/.394, 0-18-7) is a very good athlete and was starting to hit well before having his appendix removed the first week of May. He missed ten games and recently returned to the lineup. #11 SR Dave Giuliani (Both –.286 in 63 AB’s) has been a part-time player most of the season but has gotten some playing time recently due to Stewart’s absence and usually played LF with Gaffney shifting over to CF.


Fielding .968 (89, 9) – 65 errors. Double Plays – 45 (113, 3)

Stanford is not as sharp of a fielding team as usual by their standards, especially considering the athletic ability at most positions. Ragira and Piscotty are solid on the corners (six of Piscotty’s twelve errors were in the first thirteen games). Kauppila has been outstanding at 2B. Diekroeger has been inconsistent at SS in his first year there and leads the conf in errors but has great range and is second in the Pac 10 in assists. Gaffney, Stewart and Wilson are all good athletes in the OF. Gaffney and Stewart have very good speed and Wilson has one of the strongest arms in the Pac 10.

Stolen Base Attempts – 29-45 (DNR, 3). Jones has improved against the running game after runners were 36-44 against him in 2010.

WP’s/PB’s Allowed – 49 (DNR, 9). Jones is a good athlete behind the plate but has struggled with blocking pitches.

  • ERA – 3.50 (56, 6)
  • AVG – .254 (DNR, 6)
  • HR – 20 (DNR, 6)
  • Walks – 170 (100, 7), 3.5 BB/9 IP
  • Strikeouts – 362 (93, 7), 7.3 K/9 IP

Starting Pitchers

Stanford had some issues with the rotation earlier in the season after losing projected Friday SP Brett Mooneyham to a finger injury. Their Friday SP was converted from a reliever, two of the other SP’s were weekend starters last year and the fourth one has started quite a bit during his career.

FRI – #26 Soph Mark Appel (RHP – 5-6, 3.02 ERA, 15 GS, 1 CG, 95 IP, 100 H, 26 BB, 75 K, .281 BA, 1 HR, 7 HBP, 7 WP, 3-10 SB) is the one power arm in the rotation with a mid 90’s fastball along with a good slider and changeup and he will be a first round pick in 2012. He allowed two runs or less in five straight Pac 10 starts before struggling in two of his next three starts when he allowed seven runs at ASU and six runs (4 ER) at Oregon. Appel rebounded in his two most recent starts against Arizona (8 IP, 0 R) and Cal (7 1/3 IP, 2 R, 1 ER).

SAT – #28 SR Danny Sandbrink (RHP – 3-1, 3.50 ERA, 1 save, 12 apps, 7 GS, 1 CG, 54 IP, 45 H, 14 BB, 39 K, .230 BA, 3 HR, 2 HBP, 3 WP, 4-8 SB) has been a swingman between the bullpen and the rotation during his career. He relies on control, changing speeds and spotting his fastball to get hitters out. Sandbrink was a long reliever and midweek SP earlier this year and moved into the rotation a few weeks into the Pac 10 schedule. He allowed 2 R in 5 1/3 IP against UCLA and had a CG win at ASU (4 R) in his first two conf starts but struggled at Oregon (1 1/3 IP, 4 R) before throwing better against Arizona (6 IP, 4 R). Sandbrink threw 2 2/3 scoreless innings at Fullerton in 2010.

SUN – #16 JR Jordan Pries (RHP – 5-5, 3.53 ERA, 15 GS, 87 IP, 89 H, 30 BB, 68 K, .276 BA, 4 HR, 10 HBP, 11 WP, 2-6 SB) allowed 3 ER or less in his seven starts before struggling against the meat of the Pac 10 schedule when he allowed 4-5 runs in four of his next five conf starts. Pries threw well the last two weeks against Arizona (7 IP, 1 R) and Cal (7 1/3 IP, 2 R, 1 ER). He isn’t a hard thrower but relies on spotting his fastball and gets in trouble when he gets his pitches up. Pries allowed 4 R in 4 IP in his relief appearance at Fullerton in 2009 and allowed 5 R in 6 1/3 IP against New Mexico at the Fullerton regional in 2010.

TUES – #19 Soph Dean McArdle (RHP – 7-4, 4.15 ERA, 15 apps, 12 GS, 56 IP, 55 H, 22 BB, 30 K, .257 BA, 7 HR, 4 HBP, 3 WP) leads the pitching staff in wins and was in the weekend rotation for most of the season before being moved into the midweek spot in late April. When he was in the weekend rotation he had trouble getting past the middle innings and only went past the fifth inning in two of his eight starts. McArdle relies on control and changing speeds and when he is off he has struggled pitching deep into games.

Relief Pitchers

Stanford is 26-1 when leading after seven innings so if they have the lead late the game is pretty much over. The Cardinal has been relying primarily on three relievers at the back end of the bullpen.

Closer – #33 JR Chris Reed (LHP – 6-2, 2.61 ERA, 27 apps, 48 IP, 35 H, 14 BB, 48 K, .205 BA, 1 HR, 4 HBP, 9 WP, 2-3 SB) has been a shutdown closer with a 92-94 fastball and a good curve and is especially tough on LH hitters. He is able to go 2-3 IP when called upon to do so. Reed is projected to be picked in the first two rounds of the draft next week.

#36 JR Scott Snodgress (LHP – 2-2, 4.65 ERA, 2 saves, 25 apps, 31 IP, 27 H, 28 BB, 38 K, .231 BA, 1 HR, 2 HBP, 1 WP, 2-3 SB) is a big lefty with a low 90’s fastball who is projected to be picked around the fifth round in the draft next week.

#17 FR A.J. Vanegas (RHP – 1-0, 3.35 ERA, 22 apps, 3 GS, 40 IP, 36 H, 20 BB, 30 K, .247 BA, 0 HR, 7 HBP, 4 WP, 1-3 SB) is another power arm in the bullpen with a 92-94 fastball and a good curve. He was drafted in the seventh round out of HS despite his commitment to go to school.

None of the other relievers have made more than eight appearances.

3 Seed – Kansas State Wildcats
  • Overall Record – 36-23
  • Conference Record – 12-14 (6th place)
  • How they qualified for a regional – At-large
  • Last Regional Appearance – 2010 (1-2 at Arkansas Regional. Lost twice to Washington State, Beat Grambling)
  • RPI/ISR – 41/43
  • SOS – 49 (RPI)/60 (ISR)
  • Record vs. tournament field – 7-14
  • Record vs. top 50/top 100 RPI – 10-14/21-21

Season Summary

Kansas State had never qualified for a regional prior to 2009 when they went 41-16. They had one of the better teams in school history in 2010 when they went 37-22, finished third in the Big XII at 14-12 and qualified for a regional for the second consecutive year. The Wildcats were expected to take a slight step back this season after losing four players who hit .330 or better and were picked by the Big XII to finish in fifth and by Baseball America to finish in seventh. Kansas State split the difference by finishing in sixth with a retooled offense and a strong bullpen to make a late run to get into position to receive an at-large spot in a regional.

Kansas State got off to a good start at 12-2 against mostly soft competition (Pacific, Western Illinois, Long Island) with the only challenge for them coming in a tournament at Coastal Carolina where they went 2-2. The Wildcats struggled for over a month with a 9-13 mark over their next 22 games that included a 5-10 start in their Big XII games with only one series win (against Oklahoma) in their first five conf series. Kansas State rebounded from their midseason slump to go 14-6 down the stretch with sweeps of Texas Tech and Kansas that propelled them from the bottom of the conference standings to the middle. The Wildcats played well last week in the Big XII tournament and beat Oklahoma twice and lost to Texas A&M twice, finally being eliminated 9-8 by the Aggies in eleven innings.

Kansas State had a solid offense last year that hit .323 but knew they might have trouble hitting early after losing several standouts along with having to use the new BBCOR bats. The Wildcats offense ended up hitting 40 points less at .283 and they only hit .272 in Big XII games. Kansas State has never built their offense around playing for the big inning with the long ball and that hasn’t changed this year. The 34 HR’s that the Wildcats hit weren’t far off of the 39 that they hit last year with the old bats but where they drive opposing teams crazy is on the base paths. Kansas State stole 120 bases to lead the Big XII and finish in the top ten in the country in 2010 and have already stolen 123 bases to once again lead the conf and rank in the top ten. Six Wildcats have stolen at least thirteen bases. Kansas State will also bunt to move runners over and try to beat out SAC bunts. The Wildcats will work counts to try to wear pitchers down and had five hitters end up with over twenty walks. Kansas State finished second in the Big XII in scoring but was held to four runs or less 24 times. The Wildcats offense is much better at home using their speed on their field turf where they hit .305 and averaged seven runs per game. Kansas State hit .244 and averaged 4.3 runs per game away from home.

Kansas State won last season primarily due to their offense with a staff ERA of 5.57 and thought there would be some improvement with most of their pitching staff returning and that has been the case with the team ERA tumbling down by almost 1 1/2 runs to 4.16. The Wildcats had the same two pitchers in the Friday and Saturday spots in the rotation all season but their results were up and down as they also were with the Sunday and midweek starters. The backbone of the Kansas State pitching staff has been a dynamite 1-2 combo out of the bullpen at the end of games and a bunch of relievers who would be brought into games for a couple of hitters in situational matchups. The Wildcats held their opponents to four runs or less 34 times.

  • Park Factor according to Boyd’s World – 83 (decreases offense by 17%).
  • Batting Average – .280 (NCAA ranking – 142, Conf ranking 4)
  • Runs – 352 (77, 2) 6.0 per game
  • Home Runs – 34 (81, 5)
  • Stolen Bases – 123 (4, 1)
  • Slugging Percentage – .406 (91, 3)
  • On Base Percentage – .371 (DNR, 5)
  • Walks – 219 (91, 5), 3.7 per game
  • HBP’s – 67 (64, 6)
  • Sac Bunts – 62 (45, 4)
  • Strikeouts – 332 (DNR, DNR), 5.6 per game

Batting Order

DH #7 FR Ross Kivett (RH – .322/.382/.362, 0-19-8) didn’t play much the first half of the season but once he got his chance he hasn’t come out of the lineup. He doesn’t have much power with only four extra-base hits. Kivett doesn’t walk much or strike out much (11/17 BB/K ratio). He had the second best AVG on the team in conf games at .318. Kivett is a good bunter and is tied for the team lead with 8 SAC’s.

LF #17 SR Kent Urban (Both – .237/.369/.368, 2-22-5) split time between 1B and the OF earlier in the year but didn’t hit much and spent most of the season as a part-time player. He was moved into the lineup two weeks ago due to an injury to #24 FR Jared King (Both – .314/.370/.547, 8-40-13), who was 2nd team All-Big XII. King was hit in the face by a ball two weeks ago while sitting in the dugout and is doubtful to questionable for this weekend.

CF #26 JR Nick Martini (LH – .326/.446/.433, 1-42-24) was the Big XII player of the year in 2010 after he hit .416 and got on base at least once in every game as part of his NCAA record streak of 93 straight games that was snapped earlier this season. He has outstanding plate discipline (35/22 BB/K) and is a line drive hitting machine. Martini has had a solid season, ending up in the top ten in the conf in RBI, TB, BB and OBP, but hasn’t been quite as good as he was last year and hit in the .280’s in conf games and was honorable mention All-Big XII. He is a threat to run every time he is on base. Martini is projected to be drafted in the 3rd-4th rounds next week.

3B #28 JR Jason King (Both – .333/.385/.608, 10-57-16) is one of the best power hitters in the Big XII and was among the conf leaders in HR, RBI, TB, SLG, 2B, 3B and R. He was voted 2nd team All-Big XII. King had a monster Big XII tournament last weekend when he went 10-14 in four games. King was one of the conf leaders in Big XII games with 5 HR and 21 RBI.

1B #34 JR Wade Hinkle (LH – .309/.382/.446, 2-27-3) was in and out of the lineup earlier in the year but became a fixture at 1B down the stretch. He was second on the team in AVG before the Big XII tournament but struggled last weekend when he went 1-12.

RF #18 JR Mike Kindel (LH – .246/.323/.448, 7-41-14) is an all or nothing hitter who is third on the team in HR and was among the conf leaders with 16 2B but also led the team with 45 K. He slumped last weekend when he went 1-15 in the Big XII tournament.

SS #5 Soph Tanner Witt (RH – .246/.359/.277, 0-18-14) has good plate discipline (27/30 BB/K) but doesn’t have much power with only five extra-base hits. He is a threat to run like most of the team is when he gets on base.

C #6 JR Dan Klein (RH – .291/.339/.391, 2-9-0) and #27 Soph Chase Graskewicz (Both – .242/.324/.295, 0-13-1) have been splitting time pretty evenly with Klein providing a little more pop at the plate.

2B #8 JR Jake Brown (LH – .262/.365/.321, 1-20-18) is one of the fastest players on the team and is in the top ten in the Big XII in SB. He is also a good bunter and is tied for the team lead with eight SAC’s.


Fielding .974 (39, 6) – 60 errors. Double Plays – 40 (154, 6)

Kansas State plays on a turf infield that helped a solid fielding team have the best fielding percentage in school history. King and Hinkle are solid on the corners, Witt and Brown have good range up the middle but have combined to make 25 errors. Good speed in the OF with Martini and Kindel, Urban is adequate in LF.

Stolen Base Attempts – 49-71 (DNR, 5). Baserunners are 24-39 against Klein and 25-32 against Graskewicz.

WP’s/PB’s Allowed – 39 (DNR, DNR). Klein and Graskewicz do a solid job of blocking pitches.

  • ERA – 4.21 (98, 8)
  • AVG – .265 (DNR, 5)
  • HR – 31 (DNR, 7)
  • Walks – 202 (85, 6), 3.3 BB/9 IP
  • Strikeouts – 439 (79, 4), 7.3 K/9 IP

Kansas State expected to have an improved rotation after returning pitchers who started 47 of 59 games in 2010. Their first two SP’s have usually been solid but they have been shuffling guys in the third weekend spot.

Starting Pitchers

FRI – #32 JR Kyle Hunter (LHP – 5-4, 4.26 ERA, 15 GS, 87 IP, 89 H, 25 BB, 78 K, .269 BA, 2 HR, 4 HBP, 2 WP, 10-14 SB) is the veteran of the rotation after being one of the weekend starters in 2010 and got off to a good start by allowing three runs or less in nine of his first ten starts. He allowed eight runs against Oklahoma State and seven runs against Kansas in two of his last three Big XII starts before getting a no decision last week when he allowed four runs in seven innings against Oklahoma. Hunter is usually around the plate and has allowed only three walks in his last five starts and has allowed two walks or less in eleven starts. He has a high 80’s fastball and his best pitch is his changeup. Hunter is projected to be picked in the teens in the draft next week.

SAT – #15 JR Matt Applegate (RHP – 5-4, 4.31 ERA, 15 GS, 86 IP, 87 H, 26 BB, 76 K, .263 BA, 5 HR, 6 HBP, 2 WP, 4-5 SB) has been on a short leash recently and hasn’t gotten out of the fifth inning in four of his last five starts after pitching into the sixth inning in eight of his first ten starts. He is a converted reliever and won’t usually throw more than 70-80 pitches in a game unless he is throwing well.

SUN – #25 FR Shane Conlon (LHP – 4-1, 4.42 ERA, 11 apps, 6 GS, 37 IP, 37 H, 13 BB, 25 K, .270 BA, 6 HR, 3 HBP, 2 WP, 5-5 SB) didn’t start a game until late April and has been inconsistent with solid starts against Texas Tech (6 2/3 IP, 0 R, 4 H) and last week against Oklahoma (5 IP, 2 R, 4H) mixed in with bad starts against Missouri (4 2/3 IP, 5 R, 6 H) and Kansas (3 IP, 4 R, 5 H).

Midweek – #22 JR Justin Lindsey (RHP – 5-1, 4.31 ERA, 13 apps, 9 GS, 46 IP, 46 H, 20 BB, 30 K, .266 BA, 2 HR, 4 HBP, 1 WP, 7-12 SB) was a weekend starter in 2010 but has been used mostly as midweek starter this season. He only went past the fourth inning in one of his starts when he threw five shutout innings against Bakersfield. Lindsey threw 5 2/3 shutout innings in a relief appearance against Texas A&M last week.

Relief Pitchers

Kansas State went 29-3 when they had the lead after seven innings and have a great of confidence with the lead late in games. They don’t mind going to the bullpen earlier than most teams and have nine pitchers in their bullpen who have made at least ten appearances.

Closer – #20 JR James Allen (RHP – 3-1, 1.35 ERA, 17 saves, 29 apps, 40 IP, 25 H, 11 BB, 45 K, .179 BA, 0 HR, 1 HBP, 2 WP, 1-1 SB) led the conf in saves and was 1st team All-Big XII. He has been lights out the past few seasons. Allen has a low 90’s fastball and a solid slider. He is projected to be picked in the 7th-8th rounds in the draft next week.

#31 JR Evan Marshall (RHP – 4-5, 1.67 ERA, 1 save, 27 apps, 54 IP, 40 H, 14 BB, 48 K, .209 BA, 0 HR, 5 HBP, 3 WP, 3-9 SB) has been part of a great 1-2 combo in the last 3-4 innings of games. He is able to go 2-3 innings. Marshall has a fastball in the 93-94 range and a good slider. He is projected to be picked in the 3rd-4th rounds next week.

#23 JR Kayvon Bahramzadeh (RHP – 3-0, 5.27 ERA, 20 apps, 5 GS, 43 IP, 44 H, 13 BB, 31 K, .262 BA, 5 HR, 3 HBP, 2 WP, 3-4 SB) was pitching out of the bullpen earlier in the year before being moved into the rotation as Big XII play started. He threw well against Texas (5 IP, 1 R) but didn’t get out of the fourth inning in any of his other four weekend starts and was moved back to the bullpen.

#21 FR Gerardo Esquivel (RHP – 1-2, 2.50 ERA, 16 apps, 18 IP, 12 H, 14 BB, 12 K, .188 BA).

#33 FR Jared Moore (LHP – 1-0, 2.55 ERA, 16 apps, 17 IP, 15 H, 10 BB, 15 K, .238 BA).

#39 FR Blake Freeman (LHP – 3-2, 5.74 ERA, 13 apps, 5 GS, 26 IP, 41 H, 10 BB, 22 K, .347 BA).

4 Seed – Illinois Fighting Illini
  • Overall Record – 26-24
  • Conference Record – 15-9 (1st place)
  • How they qualified for a regional – Automatic bid; Won Big Ten tournament (Beat Ohio State, Michigan State twice)
  • Last Regional Appearance – 2000 (1-2 at Clemson Regional)
  • RPI/ISR – 135/137
  • SOS – 138 (RPI)/143 (ISR)
  • Record vs. tournament field – 0-1
  • Record vs. top 50/top 100 RPI – 0-1/5-5

Season Summary

Illinois didn’t have too many expectations going into this season after going 25-26 and finishing in ninth in the Big Ten in 2010 and being picked by Baseball America to finish in the same spot again. It has been a Cinderella run for Illinois over the last month of the season and they have gone from 12-20 and 4-6 in Big Ten games to winning fourteen of their last eighteen games, including going 11-3 down the stretch in Big Ten games to win the conference regular season title on the final weekend and winning all three games in the Big Ten tournament to win the conference’s automatic bid.

Illinois played their first four weekends in warmer climates and started out 4-8 after going 1-2 in the Big Ten/Big East challenge, 2-1 at Florida Gulf Coast, 0-3 in Stetson’s tournament and 1-2 at Western Kentucky. Illinois started to play better once they got back to the Midwest and went 4-2 before starting Big Ten play 4-5 with a series win against Iowa surrounded by series losses to Penn State and Michigan. Illinois bounced back from losing the opening game of the series against first place Michigan State to win the next two games and the Illini haven’t been stopped since, winning series with Northwestern, Ohio State, Purdue and Indiana before scoring four runs in the bottom of the ninth to beat Ohio State in their first game of the Big Ten tournament and winning their next two games against Michigan State to win the tournament.

Illinois was a below average offensive team last season but returned four of their top six hitters and their offense has improved and they ended up third in the Big Ten in runs. The Illini are aggressive at the plate with their team averaging almost twice as many strikeouts than walks and they finished ninth in the Big Ten in BB. Illinois has average power and finished fourth in the Big Ten in HR and fifth in SLG. Where Illinois gets their offense going is on the base paths. The Fighting Illini were the Flying Illini on the bases last year with 114 SB and they led the Big Ten again this year with 95 SB and had four players steal at least fourteen bases. For a team that runs as much as Illinois does, it is a little surprising that they rarely bunt because they are last in the Big Ten with only 17 SAC bunts on the season. Illinois has had trouble scoring runs when their running game has been held in check and they have scored four runs or less 20 times but their offense has been hot down the stretch and they have scored at least seven runs in nine of their last thirteen games. The Illini have also been very good at coming back in games and have won ten times when tied or trailing after six innings.

Illinois had a below average pitching staff in 2010 with a 5.89 ERA and their staff was better this season with a 4.84 ERA. Their rotation was adequate with their first two starters having ERA’s in the 4.30-4.40 range but the key to the success of the pitching staff has been a solid bullpen that has done a good job of protecting leads (19-1 when leading after seven innings). Illinois doesn’t have any power arms but their pitchers battle and get the most out of their stuff. The Illini have allowed four runs or less 24 times.

  • Park Factor according to Boyd’s World – 72 (decreases offense by 28%).
  • Batting Average – .284 (NCAA ranking – 150, Conf ranking 5)
  • Runs – 310 (145, 3) 5.8 per game
  • Home Runs – 28 (143, 4)
  • Stolen Bases – 95 (38, 1)
  • Slugging Percentage – .399 (146, 5)
  • On Base Percentage – .359 (DNR, 4)
  • Walks – 167 (230, 9), 3.1 per game
  • HBP’s – 60 (105, 2)
  • Sac Bunts – 17 (281, 10)
  • Strikeouts – 313 (DNR, 6), 5.9 per game

Batting Order

2B #11 SR Pete Cappetta (RH – .326/.404/.451, 2-16-14) has had a solid SR season after hitting only .262 in 2010. He was voted 2nd team All-Big Ten after hitting .403 in conf games and finishing in the top ten in the Big Ten in SB.

DH #15 Soph Justin Parr (LH – .333/.381/.422, 0-30-3) hit .411 in conf games. He was a catalyst last weekend when he went 6-14 in the Big Ten tournament and scored in all three games.

C #27 JR Adam Davis (RH – .300/.357/.448, 5-33-15) is the third hitter at the top of the order who was voted 2nd team All-Big Ten. He is a good athlete behind the plate and projected to be drafted in the 6th-7th rounds next week. Davis was voted the tournament MVP after going 5-13 and helping the pitching staff allow only six runs in three games. He is not a patient hitter and has only walked seven times.

3B #3 Soph Brandon Hohl (RH – .311/.410/.483, 5-38-0) is one of the power threats in the lineup and led the team in RBI and SLG and was second in HR. He also has a good eye at the plate and has a solid BB/K ratio (23/33) and led the team in OBP.

LF #44 SR Casey McMurray (RH – .254/.343/.341, 2-30-9) led the Illini in AVG, SLG, OBP, HR and RBI in 2010 but has struggled this season. He has an outstanding 23/9 BB/K ratio and is the toughest hitter to in the conf to strike out and was voted 3rd team All-Big Ten.

1B #17 SR Matt Dittman (LH – .259/.352/.416, 6-35-2) is a bit of an all or nothing hitter and leads the team in HR, including a grand slam that that put the final game away in the Big Ten tournament, but is second on the team with 40 K.

CF #42 JR Willie Argo (RH – .286/.397/.401, 4-26-25) has outstanding speed and had 41 SB in 2010. His speed is a weapon and he is projected to be drafted in the 6th-7th rounds next week because of it. Argo got off to a slow start and has been hitting better recently and went 5-9 in the Big Ten tournament. He was voted 3rd team All-Big Ten.

RF #2 Soph Davis Hendrickson (LH – .304/.355/.376, 2-24-8) doesn’t have much power and has only seven extra-base hits. He also struggled in Big Ten games, when he had the lowest average among the regulars at .244.

SS #9 JR Josh Parr (RH – .306/.347/.439, 2-33-17) has very good speed and finished in the top ten in the conf in SB and was voted 2nd team All-Big Ten.


Fielding .974 (39, 2) – 61 errors. Double Plays – 47 (101, 6)

The defense improved when Cappetta (2 E’s) was put in at 2B for Justin Parr (9 E’s). Josh Parr is a good SS and led the Big Ten in assists. Dittman is solid at 1B and Hohl is below average at 3B. McMurray, Argo and Hendrickson have good speed in the OF.

Stolen Base Attempts – 34-51 (DNR, 2). Runners were 30-46 against Davis.

WP’s/PB’s Allowed – 49 (DNR, 4). Davis does an adequate job of blocking pitches.

  • ERA – 4.84 (186, 9)
  • AVG – .272 (DNR, 3)
  • HR – 31 (DNR, 9)
  • Walks – 198 (172, 7), 3.9 BB/9 IP
  • Strikeouts – 299 (237, 9), 5.8 K/9 IP

Illinois returned only one weekend starter from last season so they knew that they could have some issues early with the rotation. Two relievers from 2010 have moved into the rotation and they have kept Illinois in games.

Starting Pitchers

FRI – #22 Soph Kevin Johnson (RHP – 2-6, 4.33 ERA, 15 GS, 1 CG, 98 IP, 99 H, 37 BB, 67 K, .269 BA, 6 HR, 8 HBP, 6 WP, 9-13 SB) is the only SP returning from last season. He has been inconsistent during Big Ten games with an ERA over 5 and one reason is he has walked almost a batter every other inning. Johnson doesn’t have a power arm, relying on a breaking pitch as his out pitch, and when he does come around the plate he has been pretty hard and allowed almost three extra-base hits in his conf starts. He allowed 16 runs in starts against Michigan State and Ohio State before throwing better in his last three starts against Purdue (7 IP, 2 R, 8 H, 1 BB, 3 K), Indiana (8 2/3 IP, 2 R, 8 H, 3 BB, 8 K) and Ohio State in the Big Ten tournament (7 2/3 IP, 4 R, 5 H, 2 BB, 6 K).

SAT – #29 SR John Anderson (RHP – 7-6, 4.40 ERA, 16 GS, 4 CG, 90 IP, 88 H, 24 BB, 52 K, .260 BA, 7 HR, 13 HBP, 9 WP, 1-2 SB) pitched out of the bullpen in 2010 but has been a workhorse in the rotation with a Big Ten leading four complete games, including three straight conf starts. He doesn’t throw hard and is a strike thrower with very good control and walked only seven batters in his eight conf starts. After throwing three straight complete games, he struggled in two of his three starts and allowed 13 runs at the end of the season before throwing very well at the Big Ten tournament in his start against Michigan State (7 1/3 IP, 1 R, 6 H, 4 BB, 1 K).

SUN – #31 JR Corey Kimes (LHP – 4-4, 5.26 ERA, 14 GS, 1 CG, 79 IP, 96 H, 35 BB, 54 K, .309 BA, 6 HR, 7 HBP, 7 WP, 7-8 SB) is a “crafty lefty” who has to change speeds and keep the ball down to get hitters out. He struggled in Big Ten games with a 6.23 ERA and allowed batters to hit .312 against him. Kimes started to pitch better late in the season and has allowed 3 ER or less in four of his last five starts, including a CG win against Michigan State to clinch the Big Ten tournament title (9 IP, 1 R, 7 H, 0 BB, 7 K).

Relief Pitchers

Illinois only had two experienced relievers returning and they have been relied on often at the end of games along with a couple of newcomers to give them four reliable options in the middle-late innings.

Closer – #32 SR Wes Braun (RHP – 2-0, 0.49 ERA, 18 apps, 6 saves, 18 IP, 8 H, 11 BB, 13 K, .136 BA, 0 HR, 2 HBP, 2 WP, 0-2 SB) has been very tough to hit and has good movement on his pitches, resulting in him also having some control issues. He will rarely throw more than one inning.

#12 SR Chris Pack (RHP – 7-1, 4.99 ERA, 3 saves, 23 apps, 49 IP, 43 H, 8 BB, 29 K, .234 BA, 4 HR, 10 HBP, 2 WP, 5-7 SB) has been the good luck charm on the staff and shares the team lead in wins. He has very good control and is able to go several innings like he did when he threw 4 2/3 shutout innings against Purdue late in the season. Pack picked up a win and a save last weekend in the Big Ten tournament.

#37 JR Will Strack (RHP – 3-1, 3.35 ERA, 18 apps, 38 IP, 35 H, 25 BB, 29 K, .248 BA, 1 HR, 1 HBP, 5 WP, 2-5 SB) will be the other pitcher along with Pack most likely to be brought into the game in the middle innings. He is also able to go several innings but has had control issues.

#30 FR Luke Joyce (LHP – 1-1, 1.96 ERA, 17 apps, 18 IP, 18 H, 9 BB, 12 K, .269 BA, 0 HR, 2 HBP, 1 WP, 1-2 SB) is a situational lefty who won’t face more than a few batters. He would be more likely to be brought in against the LH heavy lineups of Fullerton and Kansas State than he would against Stanford.

The other four relievers in the bullpen have appeared in ten or less games and are rarely called upon in tight situations.

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