Thursday, March 8, 2012

A Cold Night at Dedeaux Field

By Mark Ephraim

The Titans struggled on a very cold night at Dedeaux Field, losing 7-4 and ending a 7 game winning streak.

Offensively, the only bright spot came in the 5th inning, when the Titans registered four of their five hits and scored all four of their runs. Ivory Thomas singled to start the inning, followed by a textbook hit-and-run as Chad Wallach singled through the vacated hole on the right side. Keegan Dale then laid down a safety squeeze, but Thomas retreated to 3rd base as the Trojans played the ball to the plate.

With the bases loaded and no outs, the Titans were ready to do some damage. On the next play, Thomas scored the Titans’ first run when Greg Velazquez grounded out. Next, Wallach was thrown out at the plate on Matt Orloff’s grounder, leaving Dale and Orloff on base with two outs. Michael Lorenzen then scorched a line drive over the leaping 2nd baseman to score Dale. Richy Pedroza finished the scoring with a clutch triple down the right field line, with Lorenzen racing all the way around and crossing the plate on Orloff’s heels.

Defensively, Koby Guana pitched five solid innings of “bend but don’t break” baseball. The Trojans had hits in every inning except the 5th and threatened throughout the game, but the Titans kept them off the board until the 6th, when Guana seemed to tire and left with the bases loaded. Tyler Peitzmeier and Willie Kuhl were the Titans’ next hurlers and each pitched an inning in relief. In total, the Trojans had eight hits and scored all seven of their runs in the 6th and 7th, before Jose Cardona pitched a scoreless 8th.

The Titans made some very nice defensive plays to keep the Trojans off the board in the early innings. Ivory Thomas ended the 1st with a nice catch at the left field wall. In the 2nd, Richy Pedroza started a very smooth 5-4-3 double play even though the Trojan runner at 1st was running and had a big head start toward 2nd. In the 4th, Matt Orloff gloved a diving backhand to Keegan Dale to attempt to start a double play at 2nd. Although the play was too late at 2nd, Dale still threw to 1st to record the 4-6-3 out.

Overall, it was a game that USC deserved to win as they consistently hit and threatened to score throughout the game. For the Titans, it was certainly a game to learn from and “flush” as they prepare to fly to Texas to take on Texas A&M.

What did we learn?

Koby Guana continues to impress as he took a shutout into the 6th inning. And, although the wheels came off for the Titans pitchers in the 6th and 7th, bad innings like those have been the exception rather than the rule as the young staff has certainly exceeded expectations early in the season.

The Titans’ outfield arms continue to earn respect. As was the case with Utah Valley last weekend, the Trojans stopped at 3rd on several plays rather than challenge the arms of Michael Lorenzen and Ivory Thomas.

Defensively, the Titans made some nice plays and showed what they’re capable of doing out in the field. However, they also mishandled several plays, including several situations in which the Titans allowed USC runners to advance or score when other runners stalled in the base paths. These are undoubtedly things the team will work and improve on as the season continues.

The coaches’ major concern probably lies with the offense, which was mostly dormant at USC and continued the early-season trend of being weaker than expected. From bunting to situational hitting, the Titans are surely challenging themselves to improve as they know what they’re capable of doing offensively.

The Titans travel well to L.A. The crowd at Dedeaux was about evenly divided between Titans and Trojans fans. The Trojans certainly didn’t enjoy much of a home field advantage.

A Diamond Club bus trip is a great way to travel to a game. There are no worries about traffic as you munch a sandwich and chat with fellow Titans fans as the miles roll by. Keep it in mind when bus trips are announced for later this season or the next.

And on a less serious note …

It really sucks to leave Dedeaux Field after a Titans loss and see all the USC players standing at home plate, doing their little Trojan salute or whatever the heck it is. I’m sure the Titans will make sure we’ll never have to see that again!

It takes Uncle Larry 60 steps to walk from the Dedeaux Field box office to the bus loading area. However, this is an unofficial measurement since it is not known how an Uncle Larry step compares to a “normal” step!

Don Hudson’s loyalty to the Titans must be called into question. After attending 183 consecutive games over the last 4 seasons, Don had a work conflict that prevented him from attending the game at USC. However, if Don were TRULY loyal to the team, he could have quit his job, retired, or maybe even phoned in a bomb threat to his office – anything to keep his streak alive. We trust that Don will keep his priorities in better order as he begins his next attendance streak at Texas A&M.

1 comment:

DonSectionK said...

Great job, Mark! When you're as unabashedly partisan as we all are about the Titans, a game like Tuesday night's is very hard to write about, but you did a fine job.

I'm guilty as charged - a truer fan would have found a way to be there. All things being equal, I'd still rather be at the worse Titans game than in Cleveland. I hope the weather will cooperate this weekend at A&M to get a new streak up to "3", but that might not happen. Let's hope for the best - Go Titans!