Titans at UC Irvine (Anteater Park)
Friday 6:30 p.m., Saturday 1 p.m., Sunday 2 p.m. (ESPNU)
Fullerton started their quest towards winning their third consecutive Big West conference championship by opening the conference schedule with two series at Goodwin Field against Cal State Northridge and UC Davis. The Titans won the first two games with the Matadors but dropped the final game of the series for the third straight weekend. Fullerton had a much tougher time in the first two games with the Aggies and had to come from behind in the later innings to win both games in their final AB by identical 5-4 scores before breaking their final game of the series hex with a resounding 11-0 win to take over sole possession of first place in the conference standings at 5-1.
Fullerton started the week by driving down to San Diego State on Tuesday and defeated the Aztecs 7-1 to finish a season sweep of both midweek games. The Titans got on the board in the first inning for the fifth straight game when Richy Pedroza and Anthony Trajano led off the game with singles and Carlos Lopez drove in the run on a ground out. Fullerton increased the lead with two runs in the second on an infield single by Ivory Thomas, two errors by San Diego State, a SAC bunt by Matt Chapman and an infield single by Austin Kingsolver. The Aztecs took advantage of an error by the Titans that was later followed by a double to cut the lead to 3-1 in the third before Fullerton came back to score a run in the fifth on two errors and a bunt single by Pedroza. The Titans put the game away with a run in the eighth and two runs in the ninth. Pedroza walked to lead off the eighth, was bunted over by Trajano and Michael Lorenzen singled him in. Kingsolver got on base on an infield single with two outs in the ninth, Jared Deacon (in his first start of the season) was hit by a pitch, Pedroza singled in Kingsolver and Deacon scored on a passed ball. Koby Gauna threw five effective innings, as he has done in all five starts, and held San Diego State to an unearned run on two hits with four strikeouts to improve his record to 3-2 and Dimitri DeLaFuente, Willie Kuhl and Dave Birosak combined to throw four scoreless innings in relief. The leaders of the attack for the Titans were Pedroza with three hits, two runs and two RBI and Kingsolver with two hits, two runs and an RBI. Trajano and Lorenzen each picked up hits in the game to increase their hitting streaks to seven and eight games, respectively.
Fullerton started the series with UC Davis on Thursday night with the series pushed up a day in observance of Easter. Runs figured to be tough to come by in the opening game, as is often the case, with Dylan Floro coming into the game with a 2.25 ERA and LHP Dayne Quist having an ERA that was even lower at 1.99. The expected pitchers duel did take place with the score tied at 2-2 after seven innings. The Aggies put together three hits to score a run in the first before a line drive DP prevented further damage. The Titans tied the game in the bottom of the inning when Trajano led things off with a HBP, stole second when he was picked off but beat the throw to second, Pedroza’s bunt single advanced him to third and Lorenzen’s safety squeeze SAC bunt brought him home. Fullerton took the lead in the third on Pedroza’s leadoff single, Lopez’s single through the hole on the right side and Matt Orloff’s two out single to CF. Floro was cruising along and held Davis to one hit after the first inning until two-time All-Big West hitter David Popkins tied the game with an HR to RF. The game stayed tied until the eighth when the leadoff hitter for the Aggies singled and Fullerton misplayed two bunts that resulted in Davis taking the lead and having runners on 2B and 3B. The next batter hit a ball to medium deep left center that Lorenzen camped under and figured to have very little chance of keeping the lead runner from scoring on a SF. However, he had other ideas and fired off a rocket to the plate to nail the runner trying to score with a great tag made by Chad Wallach. Davis did get another hit to increase the lead to 4-2 with the second unearned run of the inning. Quist had retired 13 of 14 batters heading into the bottom of the eighth when Lorenzen’s double and Thomas’ one out RBI single chased him from the game. Pinch-hitter Anthony Hutting welcomed the Aggies closer with a single and Chapman walked to load the bases. Clay Williamson pinch-hit for Wallach and singled up the middle to score two runs and give the Titans the lead. Lorenzen finished off the game in the ninth with his Big West leading eleventh save and Floro improved his record to 5-2 with his fourth straight win. Pedroza and Lorenzen each had two hits to lead Fullerton’s ten hit effort.
Fullerton anticipated they might have more trouble scoring runs with another LHP on the mound for the Aggies in Anthony Kupbens, who held them to one run in eight innings at Davis in 2011. The Aggies got out to a lead for the second straight game when they scored twice in the third by putting together two singles and a HBP and scored on a SF and a botched rundown that resulted in a double steal. Davis doubled their lead in the fifth when Popkins hit a two run HR to LF off of Kenny Mathews. Fullerton broke up Kupbens’ no-hitter in the fifth when Greg Velazquez singled, Orloff walked and Chapman singled in the run. Casey Watkins’ SAC bunt put both runners in scoring position before Kupbens’ got out of the inning. Mathews settled down to retire the side in order in each of the next three innings to keep the Titans in the game and Fullerton cut the lead to 4-2 in the bottom of the eighth when Austin Diemer singled, Thomas got on base on a fielder’s choice and advanced to second on a wild pitch. Pedroza had an lengthy at bat where he singled to drive in Thomas on the twelfth pitch he saw. Kuhl pitched the ninth and inherited a runner on first but stranded the runner at third. Velazquez walked with one out in the bottom of the ninth as Kupbens started to tire after Pedroza’s AB and Orloff followed with a fly to short RF that fell in between the 2B and RF. Chapman’s RBI single through the hole on the right side cut the lead to one and there was still no sign of a reliever. Wallach followed by crushing a ball down into the LF corner for a double to tie the game and there was still no sign of a reliever. Hutting came up as a pinch-hitter in an unorthodox LH hitter vs. LHP match-up and promptly drove the ball over the drawn in CF for a game winning single and pandemonium broke out on the field as the Titans had pulled off a dramatic comeback win with three runs in the bottom of the ninth. Mathews had kept Fullerton in the game but Kuhl got credit for the win to improve his record to 2-2. Chapman was the only hitter for the Titans with two hits and also the only hitter with two RBI and Lorenzen’s hitting streak was snapped at nine games.
The final game of the series told a far different tale than what had occurred in the three previous weeks. Davis got a harmless single in the top of the first and the first six Fullerton hitters reached base (five hits and one error) in the bottom of the inning as the Titans stormed out to a 5-0 lead over the demoralized Aggies. Pedroza led off the game with a single, Orloff got on base on a throwing error by the SS, Lorenzen had an RBI single, Lopez had an RBI single, Hutting hit an RBI double and Chapman finished the rally with a two RBI single. Grahamm Wiest allowed two singles and a walk but left the bases loaded in the top of the second and Fullerton added to the lead with a run in the second when Pedroza singled and Lorenzen doubled him in and scored two more runs in the third when Chapman walked, Williamson singled and Kingsolver doubled in both runners and the rout was on. The Titans finished the scoring with two runs in the eighth when Wallach walked, Orloff singled, Diemer hit an RBI single and J.D. Davis hit a SF. Wiest threw six scoreless innings, allowing four hits and one walk, in improving his record to 2-3 and was followed by Christian Coronado in his first appearance in a month and he allowed three hits in two innings and Peitzmeier allowed two hits in his inning of work to finish off the shutout. The leaders of Fullerton’s thirteen hit attack were Pedroza, Lorenzen and Hutting with two hits apiece and Lorenzen, Hutting, Chapman and Kingsolver each getting two RBI. Pedroza went 5-10 in the series and 8-14 on the week and was selected the Big West player of the week after wrapping up the week with 19 hits in his last 37 AB’s.
Fullerton got this 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. Koby Gauna once again was the midweek starter and the Titans faced their fourth LHP in their last 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 Chapman that scored a run and a triple that scored another run knocked Gauna out of the game. 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 when Chapman singled after Thomas walked and Orloff and Hutting followed with singles to score Fullerton’s first run of the game. 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, DeLaFuente, Birosak and Kuhl combined to allow only three hits in 4 2/3 scoreless innings.
Next up for Fullerton this weekend is their first road series of the conference season and their first weekend series away from Goodwin Field since traveling down to Texas A&M five weeks ago. The Titans will be driving across Orange County to face the UC Irvine Anteaters. As legendary as the Fullerton-Long Beach rivalry is, this series has become more important in terms of the conference standings because the winner of this series has won the Big West championship each of the last four seasons.
UC Irvine Anteaters
- Overall Record – 17-12
- Conference Record – 3-3 (5th)
- Overall and Conference Record in 2011 – 43-18, 16-8 (2nd)
- Post-Season – Won UCLA Regional (W 12-6 vs. Fresno State; W 4-3 vs. San Francisco; W 4-3 vs. UCLA). Lost Super Regional at Virginia (L 0-6, W 6-4, L 2-3).
- 2012 RPI/ISR – 66/55. 2011 RPI/ISR – 43/20 before post-season, 33/14 after post-season.
- Pre-season/Current ranking – 26th by USA Today/Coaches Poll, 24th by NCBWA, 29th by Collegiate Baseball, 30th by Perfect Game. Not currently ranked in any poll.
- Predicted conference finish – 2nd by the Big West coaches, Baseball America and Perfect Game. 1st by Easton College Baseball.
2011 Summary and 2012 Preview
UC Irvine went into 2010 with very high expectations after winning the Big West championship for the first time in 2009 with a 22-2 conference record and hosted their first regional as a national seed and the consensus #1 team in the country. The Anteaters didn’t live up to the expectations that went along with top ten pre-season rankings and finished second to Fullerton in the conference race and were eliminated in a regional at UCLA. Irvine didn’t go into 2011 with the lofty expectations that the 2010 team had after losing all three starting pitchers and their closer as well as four of the leaders from their lineup who all had started for at least two seasons and they were picked to finish second in the Big West and were on the fringe of the top 25-30 in most of the pre-season polls and rankings.
The Anteaters got off to a very fast 13-1 start against a soft schedule played mostly at home and started to struggle once they started playing better teams and had to play on the road and lost five of their next six games. Irvine rebounded to win their next seven games before dropping the final two games of the series at Fullerton. The Anteaters were very consistent after losing the series to the Titans and went 19-6 before dropping the final two games of the regular season to Long Beach. Irvine went into the regional at UCLA as a three seed with an RPI in the low 40’s due to their poor non-conference schedule but proceeded to sweep through the regional field with wins against Fresno State, San Francisco and UCLA. The Anteaters went to Virginia for the Super Regional and lost the first game, came from behind to win the second game and had a 2-1 lead in the ninth inning of the third game before the Cavaliers rallied to score two runs with two outs to win the deciding game to eliminate Irvine and advance to Omaha.
Irvine had the best offense in the Big West in 2011 and led the conference in scoring, AVG, SLG and OBP. The Anteaters offense was on fire to start the season when they were playing almost all of their games at home before cooling off some after they started playing some games on the road. The key to the Irvine lineup was the production they were getting from the first four hitters in the lineup with all of them appearing all over the place at the top of the Big West leader board. The Anteaters were good at working deep into counts and they led the conference in walks and they were also very good at making contact and had the second fewest strikeouts in the conference. Irvine bunted often to move runners along and used the hit and run to get runners going but didn’t use straight steals much to take extra bases.
The pitching staff for Irvine exceeded expectations last season considering their personnel losses from 2010 and they finished second in the Big West to Fullerton in ERA, AVG, K’s, OBP and SLG. The Anteaters sorted through many options during the non-conference schedule to find a consistent rotation but once they did the pitching staff gelled with the starters and bullpen throwing very well down the stretch and along with their solid lineup made Irvine one of the hotter teams in the country over the last two months of the season.
Irvine lost three hitters who were either first or second team All-Big West along with their DH who was second on the team in HR and RBI and figured to have trouble making up for their production going into the season and that has been the case. The Anteaters opened up the schedule going 3-0 in the RBI Tournament at Houston but only scored five runs in each game (they scored 36 runs against a similar RBI Tournament field last season), scored three runs in two losses against an improved Washington team, went 2-2 at Baylor’s tournament and were held to three runs in their two losses and they scored four runs in the first two games of the BYU series while shuffling through many players at 3B, LF, RF and DH during the first month of the season and hit only .251 for the first fourteen games.
Irvine started to go with a more consistent lineup while winning eight of nine games against Nevada, Dartmouth and Pacific and the offense was more productive against those lesser pitching staffs, scoring at least five runs in the last eight games, before coming to a grinding halt at Cal Poly when they were held to three runs and hit .200 while being swept in the series. The Anteaters lineup has been average in most categories and they have scored three runs or less twelve times. Irvine does a good job of working deep into counts with a very good 120/147 BB/K ratio and will bunt when they need to and will use the hit and run to stay out of double plays but they don’t run much.
As opposed to 2011, Irvine entered this season with a very experienced pitching staff after losing only one SP and their closer and expected their pitching to help carry them early in the year while the lineup gelled and roles were figured out. The Anteaters allowed three runs or less in twelve of their first eighteen games but they were only 10-8 because of the lack of run production. Irvine has allowed at least four runs in nine of their last eleven games as injuries to their two best starting pitchers have resulted in other pitchers being bumped up in the rotation and other relievers having to step up into more prominent roles in the bullpen. The Anteaters have only had their starters go longer than six innings four times all season. Despite the personnel losses, Irvine went on an 8-1 run against Nevada, Dartmouth and Pacific before the pitching staff allowed seventeen runs while being swept at Cal Poly.
- Park Factor according to Boyd’s World – 108 from ’08-’11 (increases offense by 8%) due to playing most weekend games at home. 87 from ’07-’10 (decreased offense by 13%) when they played most weekend games at night. Irvine’s park plays big with lots of room in the gaps for 2B’s and 3B’s but is tough to hit HR’s out of.
- Batting Average – .272 (5th in the Big West). .296 in 2011 (1st in the Big West).
- Scoring – 140 (6th), 4.8 runs per game. 359 (1st), 5.9 runs per game in 2011.
- Home Runs – 6 (5th). 14 in 2011 (8th).
- Slugging Percentage – .371 (4th). .383 in 2011 (1st).
- Walks – 120 (1st), 4.1 per game. 224 in 2011 (1st), 3.7 per game.
- HBP’s – 41 (2nd). 72 in 2011 (2nd).
- Strikeouts – 147 (2nd fewest), 4.9 per game. 319 in 2011 (1st), 5.3 per game.
- Stolen Bases – 23 (5th). 47 in 2011 (5th).
- Sac Bunts – 34 (4th). 55 in 2010 (4th).
UC Irvine came into the season with a very experienced infield with starters returning at all positions except for 3B, although that position was manned by their best all-around player in 2011 and a platoon has been used there between a FR and a Soph who rarely played last year. Injuries have caused some things to be shuffled around with two FR taking over behind the plate.
C – FR #22 Chris Rabago (RH – .258/.378/.323, 0-2-0 in 31 AB’s) and FR #11 Jerry McClanahan (RH – .250/.412/.425, 1-6-0) have split the position evenly over the last 18 games after an injury to returning starter SR #5 Ronnie Shaeffer (RH – .147/.268/.147, 0-3-0. ’11 – .260/.313/.303, 1-31-2. ’10 – .318/.370/.439, 3-31-1), who was 1st team All-Big West and the national Gold Glove winner in 2011. He hasn’t hit well since the BBCOR bats were brought in last season but he made his hits count in the post-season and was the MVP of the UCLA regional. Shaeffer broke a finger on his throwing hand in early March and will not be returning until May. He went 3-11 against Fullerton last season and is 7-31 against the Titans in his career. Rabago started out well by going 6-18 but has only gone 2-13 over the last three weeks. McClanahan was very cold to start the season with only two hits in his first 18 AB’s but has heated up lately with eight hits in his last 22 AB’s with one HR and he was one of the few players who hit well at Cal Poly and went 3-4 with four walks in the last two games of the series.
1B – SR #43 Jordan Fox (LH – .333/.418/.412, 0-21-6. ’11 – .323/.402/.371, 0-25-9; ’10 – .275 in 69 AB’s) was only a part-time player in his first two seasons (’09 – .289 in 38 AB’s) but was been one of the best hitters in the conference in the first half of 2011 before injuring a shoulder and missing most of April, including the series with Fullerton. He was hitting .362 before the injury and was among the leaders in the Big West in many categories but hit below .300 after returning to the lineup in May. Fox was the fourth toughest player to strike out in the country in 2011 with only six strikeouts in over 200 plate appearances. Most of the Irvine hitters struggled out of the gate but Fox was red hot and went 11-24 to start the season but has been mortal since then and hit .303. He leads the team and is 3rd in the Big West in RBI and is among the conference leaders in H and HBP. Fox has good speed and is in the top five in the Big West with three 3B’s and five SB’s. He will be hitting third.
2B – SR #3 Tommy Reyes (RH – .232/.370/.364, 2-16-3. ’11 – .289/.400/.353, 0-29-3. ’10 – .229/.369/.257, 0-9-4) was honorable mention All-Big West as a FR and had a poor Soph season but played much better last year after settling in at 2B. He didn’t hit for much power earlier in his career but has gotten stronger and is hitting for more power with the first two HR’s of his career and he is second on the team in RBI. Reyes is very patient at the plate and has been among the Big West leaders in walks the last two seasons. He is also a very good bunter and was tied for second on the team with 8 SAC’s in 2011 and is tied for the team lead with 5 SAC’s. Reyes will strike out at a decent rate (20% over the last two seasons). He was ice cold to start the season and was only 7-46 in the first 14 games then heated up and went 15-45 before being cooled off by the Cal Poly pitching staff and went 1-10 in SLO. Reyes will be hitting second. He had a good series at Fullerton in 2011 and went 3-10 and scored five runs.
SS – JR #32 D.J. Crumlich (RH – .325/.384/.425, 0-12-3. ’11 – .300/.401/.395, 1-27-4. ’10 – .284/.396/.388, 1-16-2) was known more for his defense earlier in his career but has been a threat as the leadoff hitter the last two seasons. He led the Big West in runs in 2011 and was also among the conference leaders in H, BB and 2B and was second team All-Big West. Crumlich had an outstanding post-season and went 10-21 in six games. He got off to a slow start and only hit .250 in the first two weeks but has heated up since then and hit .348. Crumlich is among the conference leaders in R, H, TB and 2B. Although he has been swinging more to create offense, he has continued to have good plate discipline with an 11/11 BB/K ratio. Crumlich went 5-14 in 2011 against Fullerton and is 9-31 in his career against the Titans.
3B – FR #25 Taylor Sparks (RH – .145/.274/.339, 3-11-1) and Soph #24 Dillon Moyer (Both – .204/.290/.241, 0-3-3) have been splitting time with Sparks playing vs. RHP and Moyer vs. LHP when Sparks will move to RF as they try to replace first team All-Big West 3B Brian Hernandez, who was also the Big West Defensive Player of the Year and a national Gold Glove winner. Moyer is the better defensive player as a natural middle infielder with good speed but has struggled hitting. He went 5-9 at Nevada but has only gone 6-45 the rest of the season. Sparks has some of the best power on Irvine’s roster and leads the team in HR’s, including a game winner in the bottom of the ninth in the opening game of the Pacific series, but he also has had a great deal of trouble making contact and has struck out 23 times in 62 AB’s. Whoever is in the lineup will be hitting in the bottom part of the lineup.
UC Irvine returned their CF but had a constant flow of players going in and out of the other two corner OF and DH positions before settling into a regular rotation over the last month.
DH – FR #33 Connor Spencer (LH – .405/.489/.557, 0-14-0) was among several players who was auditioning for time in the lineup early in season and started nine times in the first fourteen games before taking over as the regular DH and leads the Big West in AVG. He has been a line drive hitting machine who sprays the ball gap to gap and leads the conference in 3B’s, is 2nd in OBP and is 3rd in SLG. Spencer was on a 13-24 tear before being slowed down by Cal Poly and went 3-11 last weekend. He will be hitting cleanup.
LF – JC transfer #2 Jeff Stephens (RH – .323/.380/.385, 0-10-1) and JR #12 Scott Gottschling (RH – .190/.320/.254, 0-9-1. ’11 – .282 in 39 AB’s) have been sharing time in LF while taking over for first team All-Big West OF Drew Hillman. Gottschling got more of the starts earlier in the season between LF and RF and he had some clutch hits and is a good bunter (shares team lead with 5 SAC’s) but has trouble making contact and has struck out almost 30% of the time. Stephens was one of the hotter hitters on the team earlier in the year and started out hitting .380 and earned a Big West player of the week award in the middle of March but has cooled off and only gone 2-15 the last two weeks. He is an aggressive hitter with only three walks but he also does a good job of making contact with only six strikeouts. Stephens has usually been hitting fifth.
CF – SR #1 Christian Ramirez (LH – .315/.434/.449, 0-15-3. ’11 – .282/.344/.405, 0-32-6) is one of the fastest players on the team but hasn’t been running much while batting lower in the order in the sixth spot. He was solid in 2011 as a JC transfer and led the Big West with five triples and was a good bunter who was second on the team with eight SAC’s. Ramirez got off to a pedestrian start and hit .250 in the first two weeks and has hit .338 since then. He was on an 11-26 tear before being cooled off at Cal Poly when he went 2-9. Ramirez does a very good job of getting on base and is among the Big West leaders in OBP, BB and HBP and has used his speed to hit three triples. He will usually hit sixth. Ramirez had a good series at Fullerton in 2011 and went 4-12 with four RBI.
RF – Sparks and FR #6 Kris Paulino (LH – .200/.346/.225, 0-4-1) have been splitting time in RF over the last month with Sparks getting most starts vs. LHP and Paulino most starts vs. RHP as they try to replace 2nd team All-Big West OF Sean Madigan. Paulino doesn’t have much power with only one extra base hit but he is patient and has eight walks in 40 AB’s. Whoever is in RF will be hitting in the lower part of the lineup.
Fielding % – .974 (2nd) with 29 errors. 2011 – .979 (1st) with 51 errors. Fox is small for a 1B but is a very good athlete. Reyes is solid at 2B. Crumlich has outstanding range at SS. Moyer is solid at 3B and Sparks is a good athlete but has been a little error prone. Irvine is average in the corner OF spots and Ramirez has very good range in CF. All of the OF’s have average arms except for Sparks when he is in RF.
Stolen Base Attempts – 15-36 (1st). 2011 – 27-65 (1st). Irvine traditionally is the toughest team to run on in the Big West and this year is no different despite the injury to Shaeffer. Runners are only 2-7 against Rabago and 5-13 against McClanahan.
WP’s/PB’s Allowed – 18 (3rd). 2011 – 48 (4th). Shaeffer had issues with blocking pitches in 2011 and Irvine has been doing a better job of not giving up extra bases on balls in the dirt this season.
- ERA – 3.14 (2nd in the Big West). 2.95 in 2011 (2nd).
- BA – .242 (1st). .240 in 2011 (2nd).
- OBP – .318 (1st). .311 in 2011 (2nd).
- HBP – 20 (3rd). 45 in 2011 (5th).
- Walks – 83 (4th), 2.9 BB’s/9 IP. 161 (5th), 2.7 BB’s/9 IP in 2011.
- Strikeouts– 212 (2nd), 7.5 K’s/9 IP. 443 (2nd), 7.3 K’s/9 IP in 2011.
- SLG – .323 (1st). .315 in 2011 (2nd).
- HR – 8 (4th). 19 HR in 2011 (7th).
UC Irvine had to rebuild their rotation in 2011 after losing three SR SP’s and another starter, Evan Brock, due to an injury. The Anteaters had trouble getting their starters to pitch deep into games for the first half of the season but Matt Summers developed into the best pitcher in the Big West and ended up being the conference Pitcher of the Year (the fourth consecutive year that an Irvine pitcher won that award) and wrapped up the regular season by throwing a no-hitter against Long Beach. Matt Whitehouse, who was barely used as a FR, Crosby Slaught and FR Andrew Thurman combined with Summers to give Irvine four reliable starting options. Summers was drafted in the fourth round and Irvine returned everybody else who started last season but injuries have hit their rotation with Whitehouse and Kyle Hooper unavailable this weekend.
FRI – FR #30 Andrew Thurman (RHP – 2-2, 4.39 ERA, 8 GS, 41 IP, 42 H, 11 BB, 32 K, .268 BA, 2 HR, 0 HBP, 1 WP, 2-5 SB. ’11 – 4-3, 3.82 ERA, 23 apps, 9 GS, 75 IP, 82 H, 21 BB, 64 K, .284 BA, 3 HR, 5 HBP, 4 WP, 6-15 SB) was a swingman for much of 2011 and ended up in the rotation later in the season. He started against UCLA in their regional and picked up Irvine’s only win in the super regional at Virginia with four effective innings out of the bullpen. He was expected to be starting on Sat’s or Sun’s but has been moved up to the front of the rotation due to the injuries to Hooper and Whitehouse. Thurman had a good stretch of starts when he allowed only four runs in 18 2/3 IP in three starts against Baylor, BYU and Nevada but has struggled in his three recent starts against Dartmouth, Pacific and Cal Poly and allowed 12 R in 15 2/3 IP. Like most of Irvine’s pitchers he uses a mix of a fastball (upper 80’s), changeup and a breaking pitch. Thurman allowed 2 R (1 ER) on 3 H and 2 BB in 4 1/3 IP in his start at Fullerton in 2011.
SAT – JR #13 Crosby Slaught (RHP – 3-2, 2.85 ERA, 9 GS, 41 IP, 34 H, 20 BB, 27 K, .236 BA, 2 HR, 4 HBP, 4 WP, 5-11 SB. ’11 – 7-2, 3.93 ERA, 14 GS, 69 IP, 69 H, 20 BB, 47 K, .270 BA, 4 HR, 6 HBP, 10 WP, 4-14 SB; ’10 – Medical Redshirt. ’09 – 8-0, 4.62 ERA, 16 GS, 76 IP, 87 H, 23 BB, 52 K,.297 BA, 2 HR, 5 HBP, 6 WP, 5-7 SB) is a veteran who relies on experience instead of a live arm to get hitters out with a changeup as his best pitch to go along with a mid 80’s fastball. His stuff profiles better to being a Sunday SP as he has often been earlier in his career but he has been bumped up in the rotation due to the injuries to Hooper and Whitehouse. Slaught overcame an arm injury in 2011 that caused him to miss several weeks in the middle of the season to finish fourth in the conference in wins. He only threw 23 innings in his first five starts of the season but had a 2.35 ERA. Slaught has been less effective over his last four starts against Nevada, Dartmouth, Pacific and Cal Poly and allowed 11 R (10 ER) on 23 H and 9 BB in 18 IP. Hitters have had more trouble hitting Slaught than in previous seasons and he is 7th in the Big West in AVG but he has much more trouble with is control this season with a 4.4 BB/9 IP ratio. He allowed five runs in four innings in his start at Fullerton last season.
SUN – TBA
Soph #50 Phillip Ferragamo (RHP – 3-3, 3.94 ERA, 1 save, 12 apps, 3 GS, 32 IP, 33 H, 8 BB, 25 K, .273 BA, 1 HR, 1 HBP, 2 WP, 0-1 SB. ’11 – 2-0, 2.03 ERA, 19 apps, 27 IP, 23 H, 7 BB, 24 K, .237 BA, 0 HR, 7 HBP, 0 WP, 0-1 SB) is one of the biggest players you will see on a baseball diamond at 6’8”, 260 and has one of the better arms on the team. He is tough on RH hitters with a 3/4 arm slot and a very good changeup. Ferragamo was effective out of the bullpen in middle relief in 2011 and was in a similar role this season before being moved into the weekend rotation recently due to the injuries to Hooper and Whitehouse. He had been making 3-4 inning relief appearances before throwing seven shutout innings against Pacific (5 H, 1 BB, 3 K) but had a terrible start at Cal Poly last weekend and couldn’t get out of the first inning (2/3 IP, 6 H, 4 R) which is why it hasn’t been decided who Irvine will start on Sunday.
SR #21 Nick Hoover (RHP – 2-0, 1.14 ERA, 9 apps, 2 GS, 24 IP, 13 H, 9 BB, 13 K, .167 BA, 0 HR, 2 HBP, 0 WP, 2-5 SB. ’11 – 2-4, 3.44 ERA, 22 apps, 34 IP, 27 H, 9 BB, 24 K, .220 BA, 0 HR, 2 HBP, 2 WP, 1-1 SB; ’10 – 2-0, 2.48 ERA, 20 apps, 1 save, 29 IP, 18 H, 14 BB, 34 K, .186 BA, 1 HR, 3 HBP, 0 WP, 5-6 SB) will probably start on Sunday if Ferragamo doesn’t. He has been a reliable option out of the bullpen the last two seasons and was projected to have a similar role before injuries hit the pitching staff. Like most of the pitchers on the staff, his best pitch is a changeup to go along with a mid-upper 80’s fastball. Hoover had an outstanding midweek start against Washington State (7 2/3 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 3 BB, 5 K) but struggled in his start against Dartmouth (4 1/3 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 2 BB, 2 K) and pitched out of the bullpen the last two weekends.
JR #44 Matt Whitehouse (LHP – 0-2, 4.15 ERA, 3 GS, 13 IP, 16 H, 3 BB, 17 K, .302 BA, 0 HR, 3 HBP, 2 WP, 1-3 SB. ’11 – 4-0, 2.12 ERA, 23 apps, 12 GS, 72 IP, 54 H, 15 BB, 63 K, .208 BA, 1 HR, 3 HBP, 7 WP, 3-6 SB; ’10 – 0-0, 4.50 ERA, 10 apps, 6 IP) was pitching out of the bullpen and making midweek starts for the first half of 2011 before moving into the weekend rotation and threw very well during the conference season and ended up finishing second in the Big West in ERA and third in AVG. He was expected to contend for conference pitcher of the year honors but came out of his third start at Baylor with a sore shoulder and hasn’t appeared in a game since then. Whitehouse has been on a throwing program but it is doubtful that he will be available this weekend.
JR #28 Kyle Hooper (RHP – 3-1, 1.30 ERA, 5 apps, 3 GS, 1 CG, 28 IP, 17 H, 3 BB, 28 K, .173 BA, 1 HR, 0 HBP, 0 WP, 1-3 SB. ’11 – 3-0, 4.06 ERA, 17 apps, 6 GS, 44 IP, 49 H, 17 BB, 31 K, .290 BA, 2 HR, 5 HBP, 9 WP, 2-10 SB; ’10 – 0-0, 7.61 ERA, 18 apps, 24 IP, 45 H, 4 BB, 14 K) was mostly a long reliever during his first two seasons despite having one of the better arms on the staff because of his inability to command his pitches. Hooper started to refine his pitches this summer and after making a couple of strong appearance out of the bullpen was moved into the weekend rotation and threw a shutout against Lamar and was named Big West pitcher of the week. He held BYU to 1 R in 6 IP in his next start before leaving his start at Nevada after 4 1/3 IP with an elbow injury. Hooper will not pitch this weekend and is probably out for the season.
UC Irvine lost Brian Hernandez, who was also their closer and finished second in the Big West with twelve saves, but returned all of their other relief pitchers and along with a couple of JC transfers expected to have a deep bullpen. The Anteaters had a few issues earlier in the year but put together a strong stretch recently where they allowed only one run over 26 IP from the Dartmouth series through the first game of the Cal Poly series before allowing six runs in 11 1/3 IP over the last two games in SLO.
JC transfer #55 Race Parmenter (RHP – 0-0, 2.45 ERA, 3 saves, 11 apps, 11 IP, 11 H, 4 BB, 10 K, .262 BA, 1 HR, 1 HBP, 0 WP, 2-2 SB) has emerged from the group of relievers to end up being the closer. He is one of the harder throwers on the staff with a fastball that will touch 90 and a splitter that is tough on RH hitters. He has allowed only one run in his last eight innings.
Soph #16 Jimmy Litchfield (LHP – 2-1, 3.13 ERA, 1 save, 14 apps, 23 IP, 17 H, 7 BB, 19 K, .207 BA, 0 HR, 2 HBP, 2 WP, 1-3 SB. ’11 – 2-1, 2.89 ERA, 3 saves, 34 apps, 44 IP, 43 H, 7 BB, 34 K, .253 BA, 5 HR, 1 HBP, 1 WP, 1-1 SB) allowed five runs in two innings at Baylor but has been very effective since then with a 1.76 ERA. He isn’t a hard thrower with a low 80’s fastball and will throw curves and breaking pitches most of the time. Litchfield led the Big West in appearances in 2011 and is third this season. With the difficulty that Fullerton has had over the last couple of weeks against LHP’s it would be expected that Litchfield would see quite a bit of work this weekend. He allowed three runs in 2/3 IP against the Titans in 2011.
JC transfer #18 Mark Trentacosta (LHP – 0-0, 0.84 ERA, 10 apps, 11 IP, 11 H, 2 BB, 12 K, .289 BA, 0 HR, 1 HBP, 0 WP, 0-1 SB) has been the other LHP out of the bullpen and has a different arsenal of pitches than Litchfield and he relies on spotting a fastball that sits in the upper 80’s to get hitters out.
Soph #4 Mitch Merten (RHP – 1-1, 3.63 ERA, 1 save, 11 apps, 17 IP, 15 H, 6 BB, 16 K, .250 BA, 1 HR, 2 HBP, 0 WP, 0-1 SB) only made one appearance in 2011 but has developed into one of the most reliable options in middle relief and is primarily a fastball-changeup pitcher.
Soph #34 Evan Brock (RHP – 1-0, 2.70 ERA, 9 apps, 10 IP, 10 H, 4 BB, 9 K, .263 BA, 0 HR, 2 HBP, 0 WP, 1-1 SB. ’11 – Medical redshirt. ’10 – 6-4, 3.14 ERA, 1 save, 20 apps, 6 GS, 63 IP, 34 H, 30 BB, 62 K, .162 BA, 4 HR, 5 HBP, 4 WP, 4-9 SB) became one of Irvine’s best SP’s down the stretch in 2010 but injured his shoulder in the fall and had to take a medical redshirt last season. He has been slow to bounce back from that injury and his pitches haven’t had the same life they had prior to his surgery.
Fullerton and UC Irvine have played eleven series since the Anteaters brought baseball back starting in 2002. The Titans hold a 21-13 lead in the cross-county series and have won nine of the eleven series, including the last two and all five series that have been played at Anteater Ballpark. The only two times that Irvine won the series with Fullerton is when the Anteaters were clearly the better team, which it doesn’t look like is the case this season.
Both teams have been inconsistent offensively this season. Irvine didn’t hit much earlier in the year, started to improve when the schedule lightened up but came to a grinding halt last weekend at Cal Poly. Fullerton was up and down throughout the non-conference schedule but has started to be more productive recently, especially against RHP’s.
Fullerton had some issues with the pitching staff early in the year, which wasn’t unexpected due to having to integrate so many newcomers into key roles. The Titans youngsters have come around and Fullerton has taken the lead in the conference with a team ERA under three. Irvine’s pitching was better earlier in the year but injuries have taken their toll and the Anteaters have started to see their team ERA creep up as a result.
Fullerton has been finding ways to win weekend series all season and have won their last seven series since dropping the opening series at formerly #1 Florida. Except for their hot streak against the softer part of their schedule, Irvine has had trouble finishing off games and has struggled against the better teams on their schedule with a 1-9 record against teams in the RPI top 50.
If Fullerton keeps their focus and doesn’t make mistakes and continues to get production out of their offense and Irvine doesn’t get their issues straightened out both at the plate and on the mound, the Titans should win two out of three games to win this series.