Thursday, April 19, 2012

Cal Poly Series Preview

Cal Poly at Titans (Goodwin Field)
Friday 7 p.m., Saturday 6 p.m., Sunday 1 p.m.

By FullertonBaseballFan

Fullerton got last week started by driving up to UCLA on Tuesday for a match-up of top twenty teams in a potential post-season preview and fell to 0-4 against Pac 11 teams on Tuesdays with a 4-2 loss.  The Titans went on the road for a weekend series for the first time since traveling down to Texas A&M five weeks ago when they traveled across Orange County to face UC Irvine.  Rain on Friday delayed the start of the series by a day and the teams split a doubleheader on Saturday with Irvine winning the first game 4-1 and the Fullerton taking the second game 13-2.  The Titans won 5-3 on Sunday to stay tied for first in the Big West standings with Long Beach at 7-2.  Fullerton won their eighth straight series this season with the series win and won their sixth straight series at Irvine since the Anteaters brought back their program in 2002.

Koby Gauna once again was the midweek starter at UCLA and the Titans faced their fourth LHP in six games with Grant Watson, their leader in wins at 6-1 going into the game, pitching for the Bruins.  UCLA got out to a 1-0 lead in the first when their first two hitters singled and a 4-6-3 DP scored the run.  The Bruins extended their lead in the fourth with three runs on only one hit on a walk, a SB, a throwing error by Matt Chapman that scored a run and a triple that scored another run knocked and Gauna out of the game.  Tyler Peitzmeier came on in relief and allowed a SF that brought home the final run of the inning.  Watson was the second straight LHP to take a no-hitter into the fifth against the Titans before Chapman singled after Ivory Thomas walked and Matt Orloff and Anthony Hutting followed with singles to score Fullerton’s first run of the game.  Chad Wallach hit a SF to score the second run of the inning and Watson escaped without further damage.  Watson allowed a hit in the sixth and three relievers held the Titans hitless over the last three innings and Fullerton only had four hits in the game.  Peitzmeier, Dimitri DeLaFuente, Dave Birosak and Willie Kuhl combined to allow only three hits in 4 2/3 scoreless innings.

With rain pushing things back a day at Irvine, Dylan Floro squared off with Andrew Thurman in the first game of the series on Saturday afternoon.  Thurman hadn’t thrown well recently but that changed dramatically in this one.  Floro scattered singles in the 1st, 2nd and 4th innings without any damage while the only base runner for Fullerton in the first three innings was J.D. Davis reaching base on an error in the third.  Irvine finally got to Floro with three hits to score a run in the fifth and scored two more runs in the sixth with the help of some poor defense by Fullerton to stretch the lead to 3-0.  Thurman continued to mow down Titan hitters and still had a no-hitter going after six innings.  Floro walked the leadoff hitter in the seventh before being removed and that runner came around to score to extend the lead to 4-0.  Thurman kept getting hitters out and got through the seventh and eighth innings without surrendering a hit.  Fullerton got their first hit of the game in the ninth when Austin Kingsolver hit a squibber towards second and easily beat out the throw to first.  Jared Deacon followed with a walk and Thurman was taken out of the game to a standing ovation.  Richy Pedroza walked to load the bases before a double play scored a run to cut the lead to 4-1 and a flyout ended the game.  Thurman won well deserved Big West pitcher of the week honors for his near no-hitter while Floro took the loss and saw his record fall to 5-3 after allowing four runs (two ER) on eight hits and two walks in six innings.

Fullerton came out with a different attitude and a shuffled lineup for the second game of the doubleheader and had more hits after two batters came to the plate than they did in the entire first game as Pedroza and Derek Legg started the game with singles and Hutting followed with an RBI single to give the Titans the lead.  Fullerton continued their attack against Crosby Slaught in the second when Deacon singled and Pedroza walked and Carlos Lopez walked with two outs.  Hutting was hit by a pitch to increase the lead to 2-0 and Slaught was removed.  Clay Williamson greeted reliever Nick Hoover by pulling a triple down the RF line to clear the bases and make it a 5-0 lead and Michael Lorenzen surprised the defense with a bunt single to up the lead to 6-0.  Chapman and Deacon followed with singles to make it a 7-0 game and Wallach had the fifth straight two out hit of the inning with a double that scored another run to increase the lead to 8-0.  Mark Trentacosta came into the game in the third and Fullerton’s onslaught continued as Lopez, Hutting and Williamson all singled with one out before Chapman cleared the bases with a double to make it an 11-0 game.  Kenny Mathews was the beneficiary of the offensive explosion and held Irvine off of the scoreboard until the Anteaters scored twice in the sixth.  The Titans wrapped up the scoring in the ninth when Lorenzen doubled in Legg and Austin Diemer.  Peitzmeier came into the game in the eighth and threw two scoreless innings to finish things up.  Mathews improved his record to 4-0 after going seven innings and allowing two runs on six hits and no walks with seven strikeouts.  Chapman led the eighteen hit attack with three hits and three RBI, Lorenzen and Williamson each had two hits and three RBI and Hutting had two hits and two RBI.

Irvine got on the board first on Sunday in the second inning when they got the first two hitters on base against Grahamm Wiest and Wallach’s throwing error on a SAC bunt allowed a run to score and put runners on 2nd and 3rd and the Anteaters got another run home before Wiest got out of the inning.  Irvine had an “all hands on deck” approach to the game with their pitching staff and LHP Jimmy Litchfield started even though he had pitched in relief on Saturday.  Fullerton got to him in the third when Diemer and Wallach singled and Pedroza walked to load the bases before Chapman drove in two runs with a double to tie the game.  Phillip Ferragamo came into the game and got out of the inning without further damage and cruised through the fourth and fifth innings and got the first two hitters out in the sixth before Hutting doubled and Davis crushed a ball for a no doubt about it HR to give the Titans a 4-2 lead.  Irvine came back in the bottom of the sixth to score a run to cut the lead to 4-3 and knocked Wiest out of the game and Birosak retired both hitters he faced to end the threat.  Willie Kuhl kept the Anteaters off of the board in the seventh and Fullerton added to their lead in the eighth when Davis singled, pinch-runner Thomas stole second and advanced to third on a passed ball and Diemer singled over a drawn in infield to make it a 5-3 game.  Kuhl threw another scoreless inning in the eighth and Lorenzen finished off the game for his Big West leading twelfth save.  Wiest improved his record to 3-3 after throwing 5 1/3 innings and allowing three runs (2 ER) on three hits and two walks and three hit batters and the trio of relievers that followed retired all eleven batters that they faced.  The hitting leaders for the Titans were Davis and Chapman and Davis with two hits and two RBI apiece and Diemer, Pedroza and Wallach also had two hits each.

Fullerton got this week started with a visit to Goodwin Field by the Pepperdine Waves in the only meeting of the teams this season.  The game was a pitchers duel for the first six innings before things got crazy late in the game and the Titans emerged with an 8-6 win for their third straight win.  Gauna was the midweek SP once again and allowed an unearned run in the second and a run in the sixth while Fullerton once again struggled with a LHP as Matt Maurer held the Titans to one run over six innings when Pedroza singled to lead off the fourth and Lorenzen doubled him in.  Fullerton knocked Maurer out of the game in the seventh when pinch-hitter Greg Velazquez and Davis singled with one out.  Pinch-hitter Ivory Thomas walked to load the bases and a passed ball tied the game.  Pinch-hitter Williamson was intentionally walked and pinch-hitter Deacon came through with a single to score two runs to break the tie.  The Titans scored their fourth run of the inning to increase the lead to 5-2 on Pedroza’s RBI single.  DeLaFuente came into the game in the eighth and hit and walked the first two batters he faced.  Kuhl came in and had his worst outing since the USC game six weeks ago and allowed four hits, including a three run HR to Joe Sever that gave the Waves a 6-5 lead, before Birosak struck out the only hitter he faced and Lorenzen came in from CF to finish off the inning.  Fullerton rallied in the bottom of the eighth when Lorenzen reached second on a throwing error and Velazquez tied the game with a single, Trajano’s RBI double gave the Titans the lead and Williamson’s single increased the lead to 8-6.  Lorenzen allowed two hits in the ninth before getting the dangerous Sever to ground out to end the game and picked up the first win of his career.  Gauna had the longest outing of his career with seven strong innings, allowing two runs (1 ER) on five hits and no walks with four strikeouts.  Pedroza had three hits and Davis and Velazquez each had two hits and Deacon had two RBI.

Next up for Fullerton this weekend is a series at Goodwin Field with Cal Poly.  The Mustangs got off to a good start this season but have been playing inconsistently since sweeping their first two weekend opponents.  Cal Poly has lost two of their first three conference series and this is a critical series for them because they are 5-4 in the Big West and two games behind co-leaders Fullerton and Long Beach.  If the Mustangs are going to have any chance of playing in a regional in June they probably need to win this series.

Cal Poly Mustangs
  • Overall Record – 21-14
  • Conference Record – 5-4 (tied for 3rd)
  • Overall and Conference Record in 2011 – 27-26, 15-9 (3rd)
  • Post-Season – None
  • 2012 RPI/ISR – 78/46.  2011 RPI/ISR – 97/61
  • Pre-season/Current ranking – 46th by Perfect Game, not ranked in any other pre-season poll. Ranked in is 35th by Perfect Game, the only poll they are currently ranked in.
  • Predicted conference finish – 4th by the Big West coaches, 5th by Baseball America, 3rd by Perfect Game, 5th by Easton College Baseball.

2011 Summary and 2012 Preview

Cal Poly qualified for a regional for the first time as a D1 program in 2009 after near misses in 2005 and 2007 but got off to a brutal start in 2010 and won only ten of their first 37 games before going 13-5 in May.  The Mustangs figured they would ride the wave of momentum they built at the end 2010 with an improved pitching staff but knew that they had some key pieces to replace in their offense and got off to a very slow start when they lost their first six games at USC’s tournament and at Oklahoma State and were held to two runs or less in four of the losses and lost four of the games by one run.  Cal Poly’s fortunes started to change once they started playing at home and they swept Valparaiso and split series with LMU (four games), UCLA (two games) and Minnesota (two games) with only two midweek games played on the road during that stretch.  The Mustangs were dominant at home during conference play at went 10-2 in winning all four Big West series in SLO, including only their second series win over Fullerton since moving up to D1 in the mid 90’s, but they were only 5-7 in conference road series and their only series win away from SLO was at Pacific.

Cal Poly had issues on offense adjusting to the new BBCOR bats because their offensive philosophy had been built on banging the ball around the ballpark.  The Mustangs only hit in the .250’s in non-conference games before starting to hit better when the weather warmed up and they hit in the .270’s during the conference part of the schedule.  Cal Poly’s offense ended up being in the middle of the pack in the Big West and they were held to four runs or less in 31 of their 53 games.  The Mustangs did lead the conference in HR’s but were average in most other categories.  Cal Poly had very little team speed and was last in the Big West in SB’s but tried to compensate for the lack of power due to the BBCOR bats by bunting runners over often and averaged well over a SAC bunt per game.

Cal Poly had their best team ERA in 2011 since moving up to D1 and their pitchers were the reason why they were able to finish in third in the Big West.  The Mustangs were 26-8 when they held their opponents to four runs or less but their lack of productivity on offense was shown when they only went 1-18 when their pitchers allowed five runs or more in a game.  It was expected that Cal Poly would have an improved pitching staff with the BBCOR bats putting a damper on offense but it wasn’t expected that their team ERA would come down over three runs a game from 6.75 in 2010 to 3.60 last season.  The Mustangs had a solid starting combo on Fridays and Saturdays with both of those pitchers receiving All-Big West honors and a solid bullpen with two of their relievers also receiving all-conference honors.  The pitching staff had a very good 2.7-1 K/BB ratio and held hitters to a .254 AVG, both marks that were third in the Big West behind the strong pitching staffs from Fullerton and Irvine.

Unlike in 2011 when Cal Poly got off to such a slow start that their season was almost over before it began after digging themselves an 0-6 hole, this year they got off to a blazing start with sweeps of Oklahoma State and LMU and were sitting at 7-1 after the first two weekends.  Since then, the Mustangs have been very inconsistent in going 14-13 and after splitting four games in a tournament in San Diego they have alternated series wins and losses the last six weekends.  Cal Poly started out Big West play with a home series and lost two out of three games to the Dirtbags when their offense was held to three runs in the two losses.  The Mustangs turned around and swept Irvine two weeks ago, the first time they had been swept in a conference series since 2006, and throttled them by a cumulative total of 17-3.  The inconsistent Mustangs went on the road for their first conference series and lost their series at Northridge for the third straight time they have played there.  Cal Poly rallied for three runs in the ninth to take the lead in the first game before the Matadors scored once in the ninth and once in the eleventh to win the opening game and the teams split the next two games.

Cal Poly’s offense has been much more productive than they were in 2011 while averaging about a run more per game and they have scored five or more runs in 23 of 36 games.  The Mustangs are second in the Big West in scoring and lead the conference in HR’s and SLG.  Cal Poly has more of a grip it and rip it philosophy than they did last season and they are in the middle of the pack in walks and have struck out more than any other team.  The Mustangs are not playing as much little ball and they are next to last in the conference in SAC’s but they have much better team speed and have almost passed up last year’s SB total with over twenty games left to play.

Cal Poly lost all four pitchers who received all-conference honors so it was anticipated that they would have some drop-off from the level they pitched at in 2011.  However, the Mustangs have pitched even better thus far with two of last year’s midweek SP’s/swingmen throwing very well in the Friday and Saturday SP spots and a major reason why their staff is third in the Big West in team ERA at 3.40.  A key area that Cal Poly has had issues with is their bullpen, where they have a couple of hard throwers who can light up the radar gun but they have been very inconsistent in the back end of games.

  • Park Factor according to Boyd’s World – 109 (increases offense by 9%).  Cal Poly’s park factor averaged around 90 (decreasing offense by 10%) the previous three years.  Baggett Stadium has a bit of a spacious ballpark (335 in the corners, 405 to CF) that plays big with lots of foul territory.
  • Batting Average – .279 (3rd in the Big West).  .264 in 2011 (5th in the Big West).
  • Scoring – 190 (2nd), 5.6 runs per game.  248 (5th), 4.7 runs per game in 2011.
  • Home Runs – 14 (1st).  22 in 2011 (1st). 
  • Slugging Percentage – .387 (1st).  .370 in 2011 (4th).
  • Walks – 115 (5th), 3.4 per game.  177 in 2011 (4th), 3.3 per game.
  • HBP’s – 32 (7th).  51 in 2011 (6th).
  • Strikeouts – 212 (1st), 6.2 per game.  344 in 2011 (6th), 6.5 per game.
  • Stolen Bases – 34-50 (3rd).  35-57 in 2011 (9th). 
  • Sac Bunts – 20 (8th).  74 in 2011 (3rd).


Cal Poly returned starters at three positions around the infield but lineup decisions have resulted in some players being shuffled around from where they played in 2011.

C – Soph #8 Chris Hoo (RH – .184/.274/.265, 0-13-0; ’11 – .203/.261/.250, 0-1-0 in 64 AB’s) split time in 2011 with Elliot Stewart, who started 32 times behind the plate.  He isn’t much of a hitter but he has done an outstanding job on defense, which is why he has kept his job despite hitting below .200.  Hoo has started all nine conference games and has only hit .152 with 3 RBI in those games.  He has trouble making contact and has struck out about 25% of the time.  Hoo will usually hit 7th or 8th.  He went 1-7 against Fullerton in 2011.  SR #12 Jordan Hadlock (RH – .162 in 37 AB’s, 0-5-0.  ’11 – .139 in 36 AB’s, 1-5-0.  ’10 – .306/.367/.435, 2-16-2) hit much better in 2010 when he was getting regular playing time but he has struggled with the BBCOR bats and has been a reserve the last two seasons.

1B – FR #44 Tommy Pluschkell (RH – .372/.438/.442, 0-7-1) only had one AB in the first 22 games of the season before getting a start against San Diego State while other players were taking turns replacing honorable mention All-Big West 1B J.J. Thompson.   All he has done in starting the last thirteen games is hit line drives all over the place.  He went 12-28 in his first eight games in the lineup before cooling off last week when he went 4-15.  Pluschkell is hitting .375 in Big West games.  He will usually hit 7th or 8th.

DH – Soph #24 Tim Wise (RH – .261/.411/.261, 0-12-5.  ’11 – .286/.305/.482, 2-11-0 in 56 AB’s) was splitting time between 1B and DH earlier in the year but has settled in at DH the last three weeks as the replacement for D.J. Gentile, who led the team in RBI in 2011.  He showed some power potential last season but his playing time was limited due to injuries but his power has vanished this season and he doesn’t have an extra-base hit in over 100 plate appearances.  He is doing a good job of getting on base and is in the top ten in the Big West in BB and HBP and has a very good 16/17 BB/K ratio.  Wise has decent speed and has been hitting second.

2B – JR #1 Denver Chavez (Both – .226 in 31 AB’s, 0-4-4.  ’11 – .277/.379/.345, 1-13-2; ’10 – .233 in 73 AB’s) was a reserve most of 2010 until late in the season and was a reserve in the first few weeks and did a decent job on offense.  He had a very good 16/14 BB/K ratio in 2011 and led the Big West and set the school record with 17 SAC bunts.  Chavez found himself on the bench at the beginning of the season for the third straight year but has recently moved into the lineup and has started the last five games and batted ninth in each game.  He has decent speed and has four SB’s in limited playing time.  Chavez went 3-8 in 2011 against Fullerton and hit the only HR of his career against the Titans.

JR #11 Evan Busby (Both – .151/.287/.219, 0-4-1.  ’11 – .223/.355/.268, 0-14-1; ’10 – .286/.413/.401, 2-27-4) was the starter most of the time at 3B in 2010-2011 before being replaced in the lineup late last season and was moved over to 2B this season.  He has been doing a good job on defense but his hitting has absolutely vanished since his FR season after having to use the BBCOR bats.  Busby was in a 2-37 slump before being replaced by Chavez in the lineup last week.  He is a very good bunter and had 14 SAC bunts in 2011 and leads the Big West with nine SAC’s.  FR #20 Ryan Drobny (LH – .091 in 33 AB’s) has also seen playing time at 2B.

SS – SR #2 Mike Miller (RH – .347/.411/.493, 1-22-3.  ’11 – .306/.398/.382, 0-23-7; ’10 – .160 in 25 AB’s) was leading the Big West with a .374 AVG in the middle of 2011 but injured his wrist and his hitting fell off dramatically the last month of the season and he only hit .268 in conference games.  He has good plate discipline and had a 15/15 BB/K ratio in 2011 and has a 15/16 ratio this season.  Miller didn’t hit for much power in 2011 but has been hitting with much more authority in the leadoff spot and leads the Big West in runs and is among the conference leaders in AVG, H, 2B, 3B, TB and SLG.  He was on fire and hitting .379 going into the conference schedule and was the Big West player of the week for the last week of March but has gone 11-41 over the last ten games.  Miller didn’t play against Fullerton in 2011 due to his wrist injury.

3B – Soph #15 Jimmy Allen (RH – .353/.403/.466, 2-20-7.  ’11 – .261/.307/.395, 1-15-2) is a good athlete who was drafted in the 39th round out of HS and ended up being the regular LF in 2011 and was moved to 3B when Busby shifted over to 2B.  He got off to a slow start as a FR before hitting better down the stretch and hit .324 in Big West games.  Allen got off to a hot start and has continued to hit well throughout the season and will be hitting cleanup.  He has been one of Cal Poly’s hottest hitters recently and is 16-41 over the last ten games and had a seven game hitting streak snapped on Tuesday.  Allen is among the Big West leaders in AVG, H, TB and SLG and also has good speed and is 6th in the conference in SB’s.  He has good bat speed but he can tend to chase pitches and has struck out about 25% of the time.  Allen went 2-8 in 2011 against Fullerton. 


Cal Poly had two of their three OF’s returning from 2011 but with Allen moved to 3B that opened up spots in both corner OF positions.

LF – Soph #13 David Armendariz (RH – .320/.367/.445, 2-17-8.  ’11 – .161/.175/.290, 1-4-0 in 62 AB’s) was given the chance to play early in 2011 but struggled to get going before being replaced by Allen and didn’t play much after March.  He got off to a bit of a slow start compared to most of his teammates and was only hitting .258 with five RBI after eighteen games but has gotten hot over the last five weeks and hit .387 with two HR’s and twelve RBI.  Armendariz has been hitting fifth and has hit .361 in Big West games, including a 4-4 game against Irvine in the final game of the series.  He has a good power/speed combo and is in the top ten in the conference in total bases and leads the team and is 3rd in the Big West in SB’s.  He isn’t a patient hitter and will go up to the plate swinging and has only walked seven times.

CF – JR #19 Mitch Haniger (RH – .333/.405/.589, 7-36-4.  ’11 – .275/.371/.466, 6-27-4.   ’10 – .326/.386/.539, 7-46-7) was drafted in the 31st round out of HS and was the Big West Freshman of the Year in 2010 when he second on the team in RBI and SLG.  He got off to a terrible start in 2011 while dealing with a back injury and was only hitting in the .220’s with one HR when Fullerton went up to SLO in April but he hit much better down the stretch and ended up leading the team and finishing 2nd in the Big West in HR’s and was also in the top ten in the conference in SLG.  Haniger started in RF in 2010-2011 and moved over to CF this season to replace 1st team All-Big West CF Bobby Crocker.  He is one of the leading candidates for Big West player of the year honors and would be the third Cal Poly player to win the award if he does (Kyle Blumenthal in ’05 and Grant Desme in ’07 were the others).  Haniger leads the conference in HR’s, RBI and SLG and is also in the top ten in AVG, R, H, 2B and TB.  He has very good plate discipline for a power hitter with a 29/31 BB/K ratio in 2011 and an 18/15 BB/K ratio this season and has been in the top ten in the conference in walks both years.  Haniger only went 3-21 against Long Beach and Irvine before heating up last week when he went 10-18 against UCSB on Tuesday and Northridge over the weekend, including a 5-5 day with a HR in the first game of the series, to win Big West player of the week honors for the second time this season.  He went 3-8 with four walks in 2011 against Fullerton.

RF – FR #10 Nick Torres (RH – .280/.353/.424, 2-20-0) was one of the leading hitters on the team earlier in the season as he got off to a hot start and was hitting .315 with a .500 SLG % over the first 24 games with 2 HR’s and 18 RBI’s and was the Big West player of the week for the second week of March.  He has cooled off considerably since Big West games started and has only gone 4-30 in conference play with no HR’s and 2 RBI.  Torres isn’t a patient hitter and has only walked seven times, none in Big West games.  He will crowd the plate and is tied for the team lead with seven HBP’s.  Torres will be hitting sixth.

If Cal Poly would bring in a pinch-hitter, they have several LH hitting options with the first eight hitters in their lineup all being RH hitters.  FR #17 Alex Michaels (.333 in 24 AB’s) has five pinch-hits and is the fourth OF.  Others LH hitters who could come into the game in a pinch-hitting situation would be FR #14 Jordan Brower (.227 in 22 AB’s) and Soph #33 Matt Russell (.220 in 41 AB’s).


Fielding % – .977 (1st) with 29 errors.  2011 – .970 (4th) with 60 errors.  Cal Poly’s defense is much improved this season after being average to below average for several years and they have only made three errors in nine conference games.  Hoo is the best catcher in the Big West.  Busby has been solid at 2B, although he has been replaced for offensive reasons.  Chavez is average at 2B and made ten errors in 2011.  Miller is one of the better SS’s in the conference.  Allen is solid at 3B.  Armendariz, Haniger and Torres have good range.  Haniger’s arm is second only to Lorenzen’s in the Big West and he has nine assists.

Stolen Base Attempts – 21-40 (2nd).  2011 – 43-63 (6th).  Runners were 12-20 against Hoo in 2011 and they are only 14-27 against him this season so SB’s figure to be hard to come by for Fullerton.  Runners are 7-9 against Hadlock but he isn’t likely to be in the lineup this weekend.         

WP’s/PB’s Allowed – 19 (2nd).  2011 – 34 (1st).  Cal Poly’s catchers have done a very good job of not letting runners take extra bases and their pitchers have confidence in them to keep the ball in front of them on pitches in the dirt.

  • ERA – 3.55 (5th in the Big West).  3.60 in 2011 (5th in the Big West).
  • AVG – .247 (3rd).  .254 in 2011 (3rd).
  • Walks – 100 (5th), 3.0 BB/9 IP.  152 (3rd), 3.0 BB/9 IP in 2011.
  • HBP – 27 (6th).  30 (1st) in 2011.
  • OBP – .339 (5th).  .324 (3rd) in 2011.
  • Strikeouts – 264 (3rd), 6.8 K/9 IP.  414 (3rd), 8.1 K/9 IP in 2011.
  • SLG – .355 (6th).  .341 (5th) in 2011.
  • HR – 10 (5th).  14 HR in 2011 (4th).


Cal Poly’s pitching was much improved last season and a big reason behind that was the performance of 1st team All-Big West SP Mason Radeke and 2nd team All-Big West SP Steven Fischback.  The Mustangs return the other two SP’s who started on Sundays for them along with their midweek SP.

FRI – JR #30 Joey Wagman (RHP –  5-2, 2.40 ERA, 9 GS, 64 IP, 59 H, 15 BB, 47 K, .249 BA, 1 HR, 4 HBP, 3 WP, 1-6 SB.  ’11 – 4-3, 3.62 ERA, 1 save, 17 apps, 7 GS, 65 IP, 54 H, 17 BB, 52 K, .228 BA, 3 HR, 7 HBP, 5 WP, 3-6 SB; ’10 – 1-2, 7.09 ERA, 12 apps, 5 starts, 33 IP, 45 H, 24 BB, 25 K, .328 BA, 2 HR, 6 HBP, 7 WP, 3-5 SB) was a swingman last season between midweek starter and middle reliever and he made a couple of weekend starts in Big West games.  He was moved into the Friday SP spot with the departures of Radeke and Fischback and has thrived and is second in the Big West in wins and IP and in the top ten in ERA and K’s.  Wagman was outstanding on opening night when he threw eight scoreless innings against Oklahoma State and allowed only two hits and followed that up by holding LMU to one run on three hits in seven innings.  He wasn’t quite as sharp in his next four starts when he allowed 13 R (11 ER) on 32 H in 27 IP.  Wagman was hurt by his defense against Long Beach in the Big West opener in one of Cal Poly’s rare poor defensive games when he allowed 4 R (1 ER) on 7 H and a BB in 7 IP in a 4-3 loss.  He rebounded in his next start to hold Irvine scoreless for eight innings and allowed seven hits and one walk and received Big West pitcher of the week honors for being the first pitcher to defeat the Anteaters in a Friday conference game since 2008.  Wagman received a ND last week when he allowed 4 R on 8 H and 2 BB in 6 2/3 IP.  He has been much better at home (5 GS, 3-1, 1.40 ERA) than on the road (4 GS, 2-1, 3.96 ERA).  Wagman’s repertoire is a fastball that sits in the upper 80’s along with a good change and curveball.  He has allowed 5 R (3 ER) in 3 2/3 IP in two career relief appearances against Fullerton.

SAT –SR #34 Kyle Anderson (LHP – 6-1, 2.08 ERA, 9 apps, 8 GS, 61 IP, 55 H, 12 BB, 38 K, .249 BA, 1 HR, 5 HBP, 1 WP, 5-10 SB.  ’11 – 3-5, 4.26 ERA, 13 apps, 8 GS, 44 IP, 54 H, 15 BB, 29 K, .309 BA, 2 HR, 3 HBP, 3 WP, 5-6 SB; ’10 –  3-4, 9.10 ERA, 13 apps, 11 GS, 59 IP, 99 H, 20 BB, 33 K, .376 BA, 9 HR, 4 HBP, 7 WP, 14-16 SB) was mostly a midweek SP in his first three years and made only one relief appearance in a conference game in 2011.  He was projected to have a similar role again this season and threw 3 2/3 innings out of the bullpen to pick up the win against Oklahoma State opening weekend and was moved into the rotation and hasn’t looked back and is a big reason why Cal Poly is 11-1 on Saturdays when most of his starts have been during series.  Anderson leads the Big West in wins and is fourth in ERA and IP.  He isn’t a hard thrower and relies on spotting his mid 80’s fastball along with changeups and breaking pitches to get hitters out.  Anderson allowed only three runs (2 ER) in his first three starts against LMU, San Diego State and Washington and pitched a CG SHO against the Huskies with 11 K’s.  He wasn’t as sharp in his next three starts and allowed four runs in each of his starts against Minnesota (loss), San Diego State (CG win with 152 pitches) and Long Beach (ND).  Anderson rebounded to win both of his starts against Irvine (6 IP, 1 R, 4 H, 2 BB, 4 K) and Northridge (7 IP, 6 H, 1 R, 2 BB, 2 K).

SUN – JC transfer #42 Kyle Brueggemann (RHP – 4-3, 4.76 ERA, 9 GS, 45 IP, 52 H, 14 BB, 31 K, .284 BA, 1 HR, 4 HBP, 2 WP, 2-4 SB) started out his career at Army before deciding to transfer out and went to a JC in northern CA last season, where he was first team all-conference and struck out 93 batters in 87 IP.  He is the hardest thrower of the three SP’s but he is also the most inconsistent.   Brueggemann threw 6 2/3 scoreless innings to finish off of the sweep of Oklahoma State opening weekend and allowed 17 R (16 ER) in 16 IP in his next four starts.  He had an outstanding start against San Diego State when he threw eight scoreless innings and allowed only two hits and no walks with nine K’s but followed that up by allowing 4 R (3 ER) in 4 2/3 in a series deciding loss to Long Beach.  Brueggemann was outstanding against Irvine when he finished off the sweep by allowing only one run on five hits in 7 1/3 IP but was bad at Northridge when he allowed five runs in only 2 2/3 IP.  His inconsistency has also been shown in his home/away splits where he is 3-2 with a 2.48 ERA in five starts at home and 1-1 with an 8.81 ERA in four starts on the road.


The relief pitching was a strong area for Cal Poly in 2011 with closer Jeff Johnson and primary set-up man Frankie Reed both receiving 2nd team All-Big West honors along with solid relief from Wagman and Eugene Wright.  Wagman is now in the rotation and the other three have moved on so the Mustangs are relying on a converted SP from last year and newcomers in relief.

Closer – Soph #32 Chase Johnson (RHP – 1-4, 4.79 ERA, 6 saves, 19 apps, 21 IP, 19 H, 11 BB, 24 K, .268 BA, 0 HR, 2 HBP, 2 WP, 1-1 SB.  ’11 – 2-5, 3.67 ERA, 18 apps, 8 GS, 49 IP, 49 H, 21 BB, 34 K, .269 BA, 1 HR, 6 HBP, 2 WP, 2-5 SB) was a 26th round pick out of HS because of his live arm and he has a fastball that sits in the 92-94 range and a very good slider that he uses as his strikeout pitch.  He split time between the bullpen and the rotation as a swingman early in 2011 but was moved into the weekend rotation and had a 3.69 ERA in nine apps (6 GS) in Big West games.  Johnson had issues with his control in 2011 and he has also had trouble with his control at times this season.  He will usually get the ball a couple of times in every series and leads the Big West in appearances and is second in saves.  Johnson took the loss in the first game at Northridge last Saturday when he allowed two runs in 2 2/3 IP and blew the save against Fresno State on Tuesday when he allowed three runs in 1/3 IP.  He lost his start against Fullerton in 2011 when he allowed 3 R on 7 H in 3 2/3 IP. 

JC transfer #28 Nick Grim (RHP – 2-1, 2.75 ERA, 15 apps, 20 IP, 19 H, 12 BB, 15 K, .260 BA, 0 HR, 2 HBP, 1 WP, 0-1 SB) was a 14th round pick in June and he also has a live arm with a fastball that sits in the 92-94 range along with a changeup.  He was expected to be the primary set-up man but he has had trouble with controlling his pitches with a max effort delivery and usually won’t go much more than an inning at a time.

FR #41 Reed Reilly (RHP – 2-1, 3.21 ERA, 16 apps, 34 IP, 34 H, 8 BB, 30 K, .281 BA, 3 HR, 2 HBP, 3 WP, 4-7 SB) has become the most reliable option in middle relief.  He doesn’t throw as hard as Johnson or Grim but is a strike thrower and able to throw several innings.  Reilly threw four innings in relief of Brueggeman on Sunday and allowed one run.  He is fourth in the Big West in appearances.

Soph #36 Michael Holback (RHP – 0-0, 2.08 ERA, 8 apps, 13 IP, 11 H, 7 BB, 13 K, .244 BA, 1 HR, 1 HBP, 1 WP, 0-1 SB) is the middle to long reliever most likely to come into a game other than the first three pitchers and has been throwing well recently.

FR #48 Matt Imhof (LHP – 1-0, 3.71 ERA, 9 apps, 4 GS, 27 IP, 22 H, 13 BB, 16 K, .234 BA, 3 HR, 6 HBP, 1 WP, 5-6 SB) is the only LHP in the bullpen.  He was projected to be one of the weekend SP’s but was taken out of the rotation after his first start against Oklahoma State when he was taken out after 3 1/3 IP.  Imhof made three other starts when Cal Poly had four game weekends and won his start against LMU (6 IP, 2 R), had a no-decision against UW Milwaukee (4 1/3 IP) and a loss against San Diego State (5 IP, 4 R).

FR #23 Ryan Granger (RHP – 0-1, 4.22 ERA, 3 GS, 11 IP, 12 H, 6 BB, 7 K, .273 BA, 0 HR, 1 HBP, 2 WP, 2-3 SB) has made the last three midweek starts and was effective on Tuesday, holding Fresno State to one run in five innings but isn’t likely to pitch this weekend with Cal Poly playing another midweek game at Fresno State next Tuesday.


Fullerton has been playing consistently in winning their last eight weekend series.  The Titans might not play consistently from game to game but they have been consistently finding ways to win every weekend.  Cal Poly has been extremely inconsistent with sweeps over Oklahoma State, LMU and Irvine and a series win against Washington and series losses at Minnesota, at home to Long Beach and Northridge.

Fullerton’s offense has been inconsistent and pitchers have taken no-hitters into the fifth inning three times in the last two weeks against the Titans and Cal Poly does have the pitching capable of those types of performances.  Cal Poly’s offense has usually been better than Fullerton’s and can be more explosive but the Mustangs are also capable of being held down and they have been held to three runs or less five times in the last eleven games.

Runs figure to be difficult to come by for both teams in the first two games of the series if the starting pitchers for each team throw like they are capable of.  Sunday’s game could have more scoring.  The difference in the pitching staffs of the teams could be the bullpens, with Fullerton’s relievers throwing very well except for their hiccup against Pepperdine and the Cal Poly relievers being a big factor in the Mustangs riding the yo-yo with series wins and losses with their inconsistency.

The intangible in this series is how Cal Poly plays on the road, both against Fullerton and over the last five years.  The Mustangs have played nine series at Fullerton since moving up to D1 and the Titans are 24-3 at home against Cal Poly.  Also, while the Mustangs are usually a very tough team to beat at home they have had their issues winning away from SLO and are 48-78 away from home over the last five seasons.

There isn’t a major difference between these two teams except for Fullerton figuring out ways to win games every weekend and that tendency with the Titans playing at home should result in Fullerton taking two out of three games to win their ninth straight series.

No comments: