Monday, May 7, 2012

Titans Wipe Out Tigers in Clean Sweep

By Don Hudson

Cal State Fullerton Titans        241  010  002   -    10   17   1
University of the Pacific Tigers 000  000  000   -      0     3   4

The Cal State Fullerton Titans finished the job yesterday, scoring early and often and rode the complete game, three-hit pitching of Grahamm Wiest to defeat the University of the Pacific Tigers and complete the sweep.  It was the tenth consecutive weekend series win for the Titans and put them in sole possession of first place in the Big West Conference, one game ahead of the Long Beach State Dirtbags.  Wiest was brilliant in mowing through the Tigers’ line-up, throwing just 85 pitches and facing 29 batters, just two over the minimum.

By the time Wiest threw his first pitch, his teammates had already staked him to a 2-0 lead.  Ivory Thomas singled with one out and scored on a double by Carlos Lopez.  A two-out RBI single brought in Lopez, just ahead of the throw from UOP rightfielder Allen Riley.

Catcher Jared Deacon gave his team a “pick me up” in the bottom of the inning when he thwarted an attempted stolen base.  After getting their butts handed to them the night before, UOP Coach Ed Sprague seemed to be signaling a more aggressive posture on Sunday when he ran his leadoff man, who had reached on an error, despite trailing by a couple runs.  Deacon’s throw seemed to exhaust the Tigers’ early hopes.

All hope was lost when the Titans scored four runs in the second against starter Mike Hager.  Matt Orloff, starting at second-base after knocking out two hits off the bench on Saturday, led off with a single and went to second on a perfectly executed hit-and-run single by Deacon through the vacated shortstop hole.  A sacrifice by Richy Pedroza and a HBP to Thomas loaded the bases, before Lopez lifted a deep flyball towards rightfield.  The runners weren’t sure if it would be caught, but it carried and bounced off the wall, just missing his second grand slam in two days.  Orloff and Deacon scored on the play, with Thomas and Lopez subsequently scoring on another clutch two-out hit by Hutting.
The Titans made it 7-0 when they converted the extra point in the third inning, all with two out.

Deacon and Pedroza singled before Thomas delivered an RBI-single.

The lone bright spot for the Tigers was the outstanding relief work of lefthander Kyle Crawford, who entered the game in the top of the fourth and allowed no earned runs in six innings, although he was victimized by three unearned runs.  You had to feel badly for UOP third-baseman Taylor Murphy, an outfielder playing out of position due to the rash of injuries: he made four errors in the game.

There is no mercy rule in Division I baseball, but I’ll spare the rest of the details.  The Titans scored an unearned run in the fifth and two more in the ninth inning.  While Wiest was clearly the game’s top star, the offense spread the lifting around.  They posted 17 hits, with 3 by Pedroza and two each by Lopez, Thomas, Hutting, Orloff and Deacon.


So what did we learn this weekend?

You couldn’t possibly have asked for any more coming into this trip to Stockton.  The Titans did what they had to do in sweeping the hapless Tigers by a combined score of 36-6, outhitting them 49-15 while hitting .374 (49-for-131) as a team.  The weather was great and the Titans with NoCal roots (Floro, Davis, Diemer and Deacon) got to play in front of large contingents of friends and family.

Another great thing that happened: none of the Titans posse got carjacked, pistol-whipped, assaulted, robbed at gunpoint or stabbed to death and tossed in a trash bin, as was the unfortunate plight of a local woman last week.  Stockton is a very troubled city on the verge of bankruptcy and with an uptick in crime that has made it one of the most dangerous cities in America.  Deeply in debt and saddled with huge pension obligations to its current and former city employees, the city triggered a downward spiral when they began cutting back on public services – extravagances like police and fire departments.  While crime and population analysts conclude there should be 600 active duty policemen, the mayor and city council failed in efforts to renegotiate with the unions for retirement plan concessions, so they budgeted for just fewer than 500 cops.  But the stress on the force working short-handed and the city’s uncertainty led to attrition and inability to recruit new officers to work the streets in the face of increasing street violence: they currently have 326 cops on duty.

Something I’ve never seen before: I stopped at a gas station yesterday morning that had a daytime rate (around $4.50 a gallon) and a nighttime rate ($3.75 a gallon) between 10:00 p.m. and 4:00 a.m.  I had a nice chat with the clerk, Kismathdas Balasabrumanium, and asked if the people were lined up at the pumps after 10:00 at night with such a big discount available.  His answer, “People wouldn’t get out of their car around here at night even if the gas was free.”

Many years ago, the Providence newspaper ran a front-page feature story on my mother and older brother when they graduated together from Rhode Island Community College.  Ever since then, I’ve been a sucker for the obligatory sappy human interest stories they run around graduation time.  On Saturday, the local paper ran a story about a Stockton family about to have its fourth generation member earn a degree from University of the Pacific.  If you were with us yesterday, you will recall that a year at Pacific costs Mom and Dad around 60 grand a year, not including beer, pizza and medical marijuana.  John and Lori Green are both UOP grads, where they met and married; John’s parents were both UOP grads, as was his grandmother.  Naturally, the Greens were disappointed when their blonde daughter, Jillian Green, chose to matriculate to Cal Poly SLO, but they were delighted when she transferred to Pacific a couple years ago.  Now that they have about a quarter-mill sunk in her education, what’s in store for Jillian now that she earned a degree in mathematics from a very prestigious university?  MBA program at Harvard?  Stanford grad school?  Nah – Jillian has announced plans to move to Los Angeles to take classes to become a yoga instructor.  Ouch!!!

Congratulations to Carlos Lopez for earning Big West Conference Player of the Week honors, amassing nine RBI in the Titans undefeated week vs. USC and UOP, batting .333 (5-for-15) with six walks, a grand slam home run and two doubles.  He also made some excellent defensive plays, a facet of his game where he has improved greatly and may be under-recognized.

Congrats also to Michael Lorenzen for being Named to the watch list for the John Olerud Two-Way Player of the Year Award.  There was never a situation at Pacific that called for his pitching services, but I was interested in how he would do on the scoreboard radar.  I’m sure there are calibration differences between detectors, but the gun at Klein Family Field seemed just a tad slower than others I’ve seen.  The Pacific starting pitchers on Friday and Sunday topped out around 85 miles per hour, but the guys we saw Saturday had fastballs in the 75-78 range……Now that I think about it, allowing 21 runs in a game with 76 mph fastballs – the radar is probably perfectly accurate.

Pacific really didn’t look like a 1-14 team to me – they looked like a 0-15 team.  Their sole BWC win this season was a 1-0 road win at UC Davis on April 15th, in a game they were outhit, 10-4.  They are playing a patchwork line-up of outfielders playing infield, walk-ons, walk-offs, etc. because of injuries and lack of talent.  I will root for them when they change conferences – they have one of the best college facilities and a terrific campus.

You know things are going well when your Friday night pitcher is coaching third on Sunday.  Dylan Floro, who was seen during the Saturday night blowout wearing a batting helmet with bat in hand hoping to get an at-bat, tried his hand as a base coach in the ninth inning yesterday and delivered two runs.

Let’s wrap it up – I’ve got a ridiculously early flight to Cleveland in the morning.  (It’s pure coincidence my business trip was scheduled when the Titans aren’t playing a midweek game.)

I’m really looking forward to the series next weekend at UC Santa Barbara.  Even though the Gauchos got swept this weekend at UCI and didn’t hit much, give credit to the Anteaters’ resurgent pitching staff.  UCSB has a couple of pitchers who will keep their team in virtually every game – hope to see you there.

Go Titans!

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