Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Season Opening Series Preview

Titans vs. USC (Friday, 7 p.m.)
vs. Nebraska (Saturday, 2 p.m. doubleheader)
at Cal State Bakersfield (Sunday, 2 p.m.)

By FullertonBaseballFan

It’s time for another year of Titan Baseball and there are plenty of veterans coming back for another season and plenty of newcomers to the program with fourteen freshmen on the roster making their debuts for Fullerton.  There is also a key newcomer on the coaching staff with former UC Irvine pitching coach Jason Dietrich taking over Kirk Saarloos, who moved on to TCU (Fullerton’s opponent next weekend), in Rick Vanderhook’s second season as the head coach of the Titans.

Unlike last season when only two pitchers returned and they were responsible for just 15% of the innings thrown in 2011, Fullerton has a decent amount of experience back on the mound despite Big West Pitcher of the Year Dylan Floro moving on to professional ball and SP Kenny Mathews not returning to the team.  Saarloos did an outstanding job working with an inexperienced pitching staff that led the Big West in ERA during the regular season and led the country in allowing the fewest walks per 9 IP.  The Titans have six pitchers returning who made at least ten appearances in 2012, including weekend SP Grahamm Wiest, midweek SP Koby Gauna, 2nd team All-Big West RP Willie Kuhl and 1st team All-Big West closer Michael Lorenzen, who led the conference and was sixth in the country with 16 saves.

Fullerton returns a very experienced group of position players for the second consecutive season with only a few players moving on and several players coming back for their SR seasons – 1st team All-Big West selections 1B Carlos Lopez and SS Richy Pedroza and 2nd team selection OF Anthony Hutting – along with 1st team All-Big West OF Lorenzen and Big West FR of the Year 3B Matt Chapman.  There is good depth at every position and a lineup that struggled at times to score runs in 2012, which was a big factor in the team going 5-7 down the stretch, should be much improved.  The Titans had the second best defense in the Big West last season and that should be another strong area with so many players returning.

Fullerton is known for traditionally playing one of the tougher schedules in the country every season and this year is no exception with trips to TCU and Oral Roberts sandwiched around home series against Oregon and Texas A&M along with the usual assortment of local teams in midweek games and the Big West figures to be much improved this season with several teams returning the majority of their rosters and Hawaii being added to the conference.  The Titans will be playing multiple teams on the opening weekend for the third time in four seasons with USC coming to Goodwin Field for the season opener on Friday night, Nebraska playing a doubleheader at Goodwin Field on Saturday and Fullerton traveling to Cal State Bakersfield to play their first game ever against the Roadrunners on Sunday.    

USC Trojans

  • Overall Record – 23-32
  • Conference Record – 8-22 (last in the Pac 12) 
  • Post-Season – None
  • RPI/ISR – 99/76
  • Pre-season ranking – None
  • Predicted conference finish – 8th (tied) by the Pac 12 coaches, 10th by Baseball America, 10th by Perfect Game and 10th by Easton College Baseball Today

2012 Summary and 2013 Preview

When you mention college baseball to somebody, one of the first schools that will come to mind is usually USC and with good reason.  The Trojans have won twelve national titles, which is as many as the next two schools combined (LSU and Texas share second place with six national titles each).  However, almost all of the history that USC has in baseball is in the distant past because they have not qualified for a regional for seven straight seasons.  USC went to a Super Regional in 2005 and longtime coach Mike Gillespie left the program after the 2006 season when he was forced out by former athletic director Mike Garrett and Gillespie was replaced by his son-in-law Chad Kreuter, whose only previous college coaching experience after a lengthy playing career in the majors was one year as an assistant to Gillespie. 

The four years that the Trojans were coached by Kreuter can only be described as a disaster as none of his teams finished over .500, one finished in 9th place in the Pac 10 and two others finished in last in the conference standings.  One of the first things that Pat Haden did after taking over as athletic director in the summer of 2010 was to replace Kreuter with assistant coach Frank Cruz, who has over 20 years of college coaching experience including 12 years as the head coach at Loyola Marymount.  USC made marginal improvement in Cruz’s first season after going 13-14 in the Pac 10 and finishing in 7th behind six teams that qualified for regional play.  It looked like the Trojans would build upon their solid finish in 2011 when they won their first seven games last season but they struggled in going 15-17 over their next 32 games and collapsed down the stretch when they went 1-15 in their final sixteen games, with their only win ironically coming against the eventual national champion Arizona Wildcats. 

USC had one of the worst offenses in the Pac 10 last season and finished in the bottom three spots in the conference in almost every statistical category including R, AVG, SLG, OBP and HR.  The Trojans have a decent amount of experience back with six players who had at least 100 AB’s in 2012 but lost several productive players from the middle of the lineup and the returning players combined to hit only four HR’s and the leader among the returning players only had 24 RBI.  

USC had a solid pitching staff last season with a team ERA of 3.69 that was an improvement by over a run from 2011 but it wasn’t enough to keep them competitive due to the issues on offense.  The Trojans will have one of the most inexperienced starting rotations on the west coast after losing all four of their SP’s but they do return four RP’s who either made at least 20 appearances and/or threw at least 20 innings so some of those pitchers will be bumped up into the rotation.  

USC has brought in recruiting classes ranked in the top twenty nationally according to Baseball America over the last two years and many of those younger players are looking to make an impact to revitalize the dormant Trojans baseball program.  However, some of the momentum that USC was trying to get going has been hindered by an investigation into the program for exceeding the NCAA’s practice limits and as a result Cruz has been suspended until the investigation is resolved.

  • Park Factor according to Boyd’s World – 94 from 2008-2011 (decreases offense by 6%). Dimensions are 335-375-395-375-335.
  • Batting Average – .274 (9th in the Pac 12, 169th in the NCAA)
  • Runs Per Game – 4.4 (10/244)
  • Home Runs – 15 (11/229)
  • Slugging Percentage – .345 (11/241)
  • On Base Percentage – .356 (10/170)
  • Walks – 179 (8/204)
  • HBP’s – 69 (6/81)
  • Strikeouts – 332 (7/xx)
  • Sac Bunts – 50 (7/94)
  • Stolen Bases – 43 (6/197)



USC is experienced around the infield with returning starters at 2B, SS and 3B but will be breaking in new starters behind the plate and at 1B.

C – JR #21 Jake Hernandez (RH – .286/.340/.330, 0-15-2 in 91 AB’s.  ’11 – .200/.210/.233, 0-6-0 in 60 AB’s) has pretty big shoes to fill in replacing three year starter Kevin Roundtree.  He was a 22nd round pick out of HS because of his raw power and physical tools but they haven’t translated yet to the college game, although he made strides in the summer when he hit 5 HR’s in the Cape Cod League.  Hernandez was the backup to Roundtree and a part-time DH the past two seasons and started to live up to his potential during conference play when he led the team in hitting at .356.  He went 0-3 against Fullerton last season.  Soph #51 Garrett Stubbs (LH – .189/.280/.228, 1-12-2) started 30 games in the OF as a FR but has been converted to catcher.  He went 1-9 with an RBI against Fullerton last season.

1B/DH – USC figures to use several players at these positions and play whoever can give them any sort of a threat to a lineup desperate for power.  FR #28 Timmy Robinson (RH) is a big man with plus raw power who was ranked in the top 200 nationally for last year’s draft by Baseball America and figures to be given lots of chances to prove he belongs in the lineup.  He went 6-12 with 4 RBI in the two fall ball games and hit an HR in their alumni game.  Others who figure into the mix in these spots are FR #14 Vahn Bozoian (RH), another big man who was also ranked in the top 200 for last year’s draft due to his power potential, FR #6 Kyle Davis (RH) and FR #42 David Edson (LH).

2B – SR #2 Adam Landecker (RH – .329/.418/.355, 0-12-4.  ’11 – .280/.390/.320, 0-16-2) is in his fourth year as a starter and is a versatile player who has split time at 2B, SS and 3B during his career.  He doesn’t have much power with only seven extra base hits over the last two seasons but does a good job of putting the ball in play and led the team in hitting in 2012.  Landecker handles the bat well and is a good bunter with 24 SAC bunts over the last three seasons.  He has solid plate discipline and had a 16/18 BB/K ratio in 2012 and also had 8 HBP’s.  Landecker had three hits and an RBI in USC’s win against Fullerton last season after going 1-8 against the Titans in 2011.

SS – JR #15 James Roberts (RH – .289/.356/.342, 0-24-4.  ’11 – .274/.384/.313, 1-15-2) is a good athlete and probably the best draft prospect among the upperclassmen.  He has good range at SS and improved defensively as a FR as the year went on but struggled last season and made 21 errors.  Roberts only had five extra base hits as a FR and showed a little more pop in 2012 with ten doubles.  He is a good bunter with 18 SAC’s in his first two seasons.  Roberts had a decent 17/26 BB/K ratio as a FR but his plate discipline regressed in 2012 with an 8/25 BB/K ratio.  He went 3-7 with an RBI against Fullerton last season and was 1-8 against the Titans in 2011. 

3B – JR #34 Kevin Swick (RH – .258/.311/.332, 1-23-5.  ’11 – .258 in 31 AB’s) was a reserve as a FR but took advantage of upperclassmen moving on to become a starter last season and was adequate defensively with solid range but made ten errors.  He doesn’t have much pop for a 3B and had a poor 8/33 BB/K ratio.  Like the other returning infielders, Swick is a good bunter and had six SAC bunts in 2012.  FR #26 Blake Lacey (RH) and FR #5 Reggie Southall (Both) are the middle infield combo of the future and figure to see some playing time this season to get them ready to start in 2014.


USC lost two of their best OF’s after 2012 but played quite a few players out there so they have a solid amount of experience in the outfield along with the addition of a key transfer who figures to be one of the starters.

LF – Soph #3 Dante Flores (LH – .310/.406/.415, 2-19-2) came into the program with high expectations after being ranked as one of the top 150 players going into the 2011 draft by Baseball America but he was only drafted in the 41st round due to his strong commitment to going to school.  He lived up to the hype as one of the leading hitters on the team and has good pop for a player his size and is the leader among the returning players in SLG.  Flores showed decent patience at the plate with 18 BB’s but needs to make better contact after finishing second on the team with 33 K’s.

CF – JR #11 Omar Cotto Lozado (Both – .103 in 29 AB’s.  ’11 – .073 in 41 AB’s) and SR #8 J.R. Aguirre (RH – .136 in 22 AB’s.  ’11 – .232 in 69 AB’s) are probably going to split time.  Cotto Lozado is the fastest player on the roster, which is why he was a 12th round pick out of HS, and Aguirre has solid speed.  Neither of them has hit much and they have combined for two extra-base hits in over 150 AB’s.   FR #16 Conner Sullivan (Both) could play his way into a starting position if both of them continue to have issues at the plate.

RF – SR #9 Greg Zebrack (RH – .343/.448/.657, 7-28-10.  ’11 – .336/.449/.596, 7-27-9) started his career at USC in 2009, transferred to Penn and sat out in 2010, was 1st team All-Ivy League in 2011 and 2012 and is eligible to play this season after graduating from Penn.  He figures to hit in the middle of the order as a legitimate power threat for a lineup that doesn’t have much pop but he will have to prove he can do some damage against a higher level of pitching than he saw the past two seasons.  Zebrack also has solid speed so he will be able to steal a few bases and cover ground well in RF.


  • ERA – 3.69 (8/73)
  • AVG – .269 (8/xx)
  • HR – 17 (1/xx)
  • H’s/9 IP – 9.3 (8/126)
  • BB’s/9 IP – 3.6 (8/138)
  • K’s/9 IP – 6.5 (7/148)
  • WHIP – 1.44 (9/134)

USC expected to have to rebuild their rotation this season after having three SR SP’s in 2012 but they didn’t expect LHP Stephen Tarpley (5-3, 3.22 ERA, 13 GS) to transfer to a JC after deciding to go to USC despite being an 8th round pick out of HS so they will be replacing all of their SP’s.

Soph #33 Wyatt Strahan (RHP – 3-3, 1.37 ERA, 22 apps, 2 saves, 26 IP, 18 H, 18 BB, 18 K, .189 AVG, 0 HR, 1 HBP, 0 WP, 2-4 SB) pitched in middle relief as a FR, usually going 1-2 innings.  He was tough to hit with a low 90’s fastball with good movement but had major issues with his control that kept him from taking a more prominent role on the staff.  Strahan has worked on developing his changeup and was very good in their fall ball game, throwing five innings and allowing one unearned run on 2 H’s with only 1 BB and six K’s.

Soph #20 Nigel Nootbaar (RHP – 1-3, 3.31 ERA, 14 apps, 4 GS, 35 IP, 38 H, 13 BB, 17 K, .277 AVG, 1 HR, 1 HBP, 0 WP, 3-6 SB) was pretty effective as a middle reliever as a FR but he had trouble putting hitters away.  That changed this summer when he was the #3 prospect in the Alaskan League with a 92-94 fastball and a plus breaking pitch.  His third pitch is a change-up that is a work in progress.  
Nootbaar is rated #9 in the Pac 12 soph class for the 2014 draft.  He threw 1 1/3 scoreless innings at Fullerton last season.

FR #24 Kyle Twomey (LHP) was a 3rd round pick out of HS but decided to go to college despite being drafted that high.  He has a good pitchers’ frame with a smooth delivery and a low 90’s fastball but he is still working on developing his secondary pitches and his changeup is his best off-speed pitch.  Twomey will be given every chance to prove himself in the rotation with the potential that he has.

JR #27 Bobby Wheatley (LHP – 1-0, 3.46 ERA, 16 apps, 2 GS, 26 IP, 23 H, 10 BB, 10 K, .242 AVG, 2 HR, 0 HBP, 2 WP, 2-4 SB.  ’11 – 1-1, 6.39 ERA, 18 apps, 13 IP) isn’t a hard thrower and is a crafty lefty who is being given a chance to win a spot as a SP after being a middle reliever the last two seasons.  He is going to need better control to be effective, which he wasn’t against Fullerton when he allowed 2 R and 4 BB’s in 1 1/3 IP last season.


With several of the relievers from 2012 being bumped up into the rotation, USC will have a relatively inexperienced bullpen with two pitchers returning who either made 20 appearances or threw over 20 innings and the rest of the pitchers will be incoming FR who are part of their highly rated recruiting class.

JR #44 James Guillen (RHP – 0-0, 2.45 ERA, 20 apps, 15 IP, 17 H, 6 BB, 14 K, .304 AVG, 0 HR, 4 HBP, 2 WP, 2-4 SB) and SR #29 Matt Munson (RHP – 2-1, 3.60 ERA, 19 apps, 1 GS, 25 IP, 31 H, 9 BB, 16 K, .298 AVG, 1 HR, 5 HBP, 0 WP, 6-7 SB) are the only experienced pitchers in the bullpen.  They combined to throw 20 scoreless innings in 16 apps in conference games so they have the potential to be effective.

The other relievers figure to be FR RHP’s Shane Gonzales, Kyle Davis, Brent Wheatley and Brooks Kriske.  Gonzales has the highest upside of the four with a low 90’s fastball and a solid changeup and curve.  He threw four scoreless innings in one of the fall ball games and could pitch his way into being the closer or a SP. 

Nebraska Cornhuskers

  • Overall Record – 34-23
  • Conference Record – 14-10 (4th in the Big Ten) 
  • Post-Season – None
  • RPI/ISR – 94/70
  • Pre-season ranking – None
  • Predicted conference finish – 2nd by the Big Ten coaches, 2nd by Baseball America, 4th by Perfect Game and 1st by Easton College Baseball Today

Unlike Fullerton’s opponent on opening night, Nebraska had very little history of success in baseball and made only three regional appearances prior to the arrival of Dave Van Horn before the 1998 season.  All that Van Horn’s teams managed to do was win the Big XII tournament to advance to a regional in his second season in 1999, win the Big XII tournament and a regional in 2000, win the Big XII regular season and tournament championships and advanced to their first College World Series in 2001 (when they played their first game against Fullerton) and made another appearance in Omaha in 2002 before Van Horn moved on to Arkansas. 

Van Horn’s assistant Mike Anderson was promoted to the head coaching position for 2003 and Nebraska made regional appearances in five of his first six seasons with two Big XII titles and an appearance in the College World Series in 2005.  However, things got off track after UC Irvine won the regional that Nebraska hosted in 2008 and the Cornhuskers failed to make a regional or finish better than ninth in each of Anderson’s final three seasons and he was replaced after the 2011 season by volunteer assistant Darin Erstad, a fan favorite in Orange County for his lengthy career with the Angels. 

The Cornhuskers were much more competitive in 2012 than they were in their final few years under Anderson, which isn’t a surprise considering Erstad’s all-out style as a player.  After Nebraska was swept by Gonzaga to start the season they got red hot and won 16 of their next 20 games.  The Cornhuskers were positioned to get off to a good start against their new conference opponents in the Big Ten and they won five of their eight conference series on the way to finishing in fourth place before going 1-2 in the Big Ten tournament to end the season at 34-23, 14-10.

Also in contrast to Fullerton’s first opponent this weekend who had one of the worst offenses in their conference, Nebraska had the best offense in their conference and one of the best offenses in the country.  The turnaround with Erstad in charge was instantaneous as the Cornhuskers improved their team AVG by 45 points and scored almost two more runs per game, led the Big Ten in R, HR, TB, SLG and OBP and were second in AVG and finished in the top ten nationally in scoring and AVG and in the top 25 in the country in HR and SLG, accomplishing all of that despite playing in a ballpark that significantly favors pitchers.  

With an offense like that, one would have expected Nebraska to finish higher in the Big Ten standings but they were only 8th in the conference in ERA, 9th in strikeouts and 10th in AVG.  Many of the same players who were responsible for the lofty numbers that the Cornhuskers put up on offense are back and Nebraska is looking for improvement in former Fullerton pitching coach Ted Silva’s second season as the pitching coach with their three leaders in ERA and eight of the ten pitchers who threw at least 25 innings returning.


  • Park Factor according to Boyd’s World – 81 from 2008-2011 (decreases offense by 19%). Dimensions are 335-403-395-400-330.  Big power alleys and cold weather for most of the season make Haymarket Park a tough place to hit.
  • Batting Average – .315 (2nd in the Big Ten, 8th in the NCAA)
  • Runs Per Game – 7.1 (1/8)
  • Home Runs – 47 (1/21)
  • Slugging Percentage – .445 (1/16)
  • On Base Percentage – .384 (1/34)
  • Walks – 184 (7/187)
  • HBP’s – 61 (5/113)
  • Strikeouts – 288 (10/xx)
  • Sac Bunts – 47 (5/113)
  • Stolen Bases – 62 (5/111)



Nebraska lost both of their catchers but has plenty of experience around the infield with several all-conference candidates, although some of them will be shifting around from where they played in 2012.

C – JC transfers #8 Tanner Lubach (RH) and #16 Corey Stringer (RH) and redshirt FR #45 Taylor Fish (RH) have been battling since fall ball to see who would replace the catching tandem of Cory Burleson and Richard Stock.  Baseball America rated Lubach as the #5 newcomer in the Big Ten.

1B – SR #3 Kash Kalkowski (RH – .310/.360/.425, 4-37-7.  ’11 – .299/.378/.469, 5-42-11) also split time with Stock at 1B and played some OF in 2012 but will be the main guy at 1B this season.  He battled some injuries in 2012 but should be able to put up some solid numbers if he stays healthy.  Kalkowski is a very aggressive hitter and he has walked only 14 times the last two seasons, although he did a decent job of making contact in 2012 with 17 K’s and he will stand in and take a HBP (team leader with 10 in 2012).  He has good speed for a 1B and is a good athlete who does a solid job defensively.

2B – Soph #9 Pat Kelly (RH – .313/.345/.521, 0-12-4) came in and won the job from a returning starter and proved that it was the right decision by Erstad as he ended up hitting the most HR’s by a FR at Nebraska since 2001 on the way to winning several FR All-American awards and is a pre-season pick for All-Big Ten honors.  He finished in the top ten in the Big Ten in HR’s and SLG, providing power at a position usually known for slap hitters.  Kelly is also a very aggressive hitter who had a poor 6/24 BB/K rate.  He did a good job defensively and was one of the better players at 2B in the Big Ten.

SS – SR #7 Bryan Peters (RH – .241/.351/.304, 0-11-2.  ’11 – .273/.367/.349, 2-30-12) started at 2B his first two seasons but Kelly took over there in 2012 and he became a reserve.  Peters will be taking over at SS for his SR year due to some shifting around the infield.  He doesn’t have much pop in his bat but he will battle at the plate and is already #4 in school history in HBP’s.  Peters is a solid athlete who should be able to handle the move defensively from 2B to SS.  Two players who are looking to work their way into playing time and figure to be starters in 2014 are Soph #22 Blake Headley (LH – .304 in 46 AB’s) and FR #14 Wes Edrington (RH), who graduated from school a semester early to join the Huskers instead of playing his SR season in HS.

3B – SR #20 Josh Scheffert (RH – .358/.410/.559, 8-41-5.  ’11 – .220/.286/.340, 2-18-1) hit poorly as a Soph but bounced back in a big way in 2012 on his way to 2nd team All-Big Ten honors after ending up in the top ten in the Big Ten in AVG, HR and SLG and is a pre-season All-Big Ten pick.  His plate discipline is a little better than the other infielders with an improved 15/24 BB/K ratio last season after having a poor 11/41 BB/K ratio in 2011.  Scheffert is a very good defender who made five errors in 2012, including only one in Big Ten games.


Nebraska lost only one player from their group of outfielders in 2012 and will have plenty of experienced players and they have moved one of their best players from the infield to the outfield.

LF – SR #2 Chad Christensen (RH – .311/.373/.500, 10-48-7.  ’11 – .292/.335/.344, 1-16-5) was drafted in the 35th round but will be a four year starter after deciding to come back for his SR season after he was the 1st team All-Big Ten SS in 2012.  He has moved to the OF and is a pre-season All-Big Ten pick.  Christensen didn’t hit for much power earlier in his career but had a big leap in that area in 2012 and led the team in HR and RBI and was among the Big Ten leaders in those categories and also in R, H, TB and SLG.  Nebraska doesn’t bunt much but he is one of their better bunters and had 8 SAC’s last season.  Christensen will take a big swing at the plate and led the team with 36 K’s.  He struggled defensively in 2012 and made 18 errors so moving to the OF should be a good move.

CF – SR #11 Rich Sanguinetti (LH – .323/.371/.419, 2-43-7) came in as a JC transfer and took control of the CF spot in 2012 on his way to earning 1st team All-Big Ten honors.  He usually hit 2nd and would often bunt runners over and was 2nd in the Big Ten with 14 SAC’s. Sanguinetti was a productive player who was among the conference leaders in R and RBI. He does a good job on defense and made only one error in 2012.  Like most of his teammates, he is aggressive at the plate and had a below average 16/35 BB/K ratio.

RF – Soph #41 Austin Darby (LH – .324/.389/.432, 2-15-7) is the best pro prospect among the position players and is projected to be among the top 150 players in the 2014 draft.  He was in and out of the lineup early in the season but started to hit well once he became a regular and hit .350 in Big Ten games on the way to earning conference All-Freshman honors.  Darby is a very good athlete who runs well and covers lots of ground in the OF.

DH – JR #4 Michael Pritchard (LH – .387/.447/.434, 0-22-6.  ’11 – .304/.393/.315, 0-7-1) was 1st team All-Big Ten after having a 25 game hitting streak, leading the conference in AVG and was in the top five in the conference in H and R and has popped up on some pre-season All-American lists.  He had a shoulder injury last season that limited him to DH duty instead of playing in the OF and he figures to spend most of his time at DH.  Unlike most of his teammates, Pritchard does an outstanding job of making contact and had a terrific 21/10 BB/K ratio in 2012.  He is the leadoff hitter and does not hit for much power with only 11 extra base hits the past two seasons (all doubles) and focuses on spraying the ball all over the field. 


  • ERA – 4.40 (8/146)
  • AVG – .291 (10/xx)
  • HR – 27 (6/xx)
  • H’s/9 IP – 10.3 (10/217)
  • BB’s/9 IP – 3.5 (5/118)
  • K’s/9 IP – 5.7 (9/241)
  • WHIP – 1.53 (9/182)

Nebraska used a large number of pitchers last season with seven of them making at least four starts and fourteen of them making at least ten appearances and/or throwing at least twenty innings with nine of those pitchers returning.


Soph #31 Kyle Kubat (LHP – 5-1, 2.63 ERA, 15 apps, 8 GS, 51 IP, 56 H, 19 BB, 31 K, .287 AVG, 1 HR, 4 HBP, 1 WP, 3-5 SB) was a swingman in 2012 and was Nebraska’s most effective SP.  He really came on in Big Ten play when he was 4-0 with a 1.57 on his way to earning 3rd team All-Big Ten and FR All-American honors.  Kubat is the #4 prospect among the Soph’s in the conference for the 2014 draft with a fastball in the upper 80’s and good off-speed pitches. 

JR #27 Zach Hirsch (LHP – 4-5, 5.52 ERA, 14 apps, 13 GS, 60 IP, 80 H, 14 BB, 32 K, .332 AVG, 7 HR, 3 HBP, 0 WP, 3-8 SB) got the ball every weekend and led the team in IP but had trouble getting past the 5th inning despite solid control due to getting way too much of the plate and not fooling too many hitters.

SR #37 Ryan Hander (RHP – 3-0, 2.97 ERA, 16 apps, 4 GS, 33 IP, 29 H, 10 BB, 25 K, .232 AVG, 1 HR, 2 HBP, 2 WP, 6-6 SB) only threw nine innings as a Soph but became an effective middle reliever and midweek starter in 2012 with solid stuff and figures to take on more of starting role.

JR #44 Brandon Pierce (RHP – 5-4, 4.21 ERA, 2 saves, 23 apps, 6 GS, 58 IP, 55 H, 37 BB, 35 K, .249 AVG, 2 HR, 3 HBP, 5 WP, 4-6 SB.  ’11 - 0-1, 4.02 ERA, 20 apps, 3 GS, 31 IP, 31 H, 18 BB, 32 K, .265 AVG, 2 HR, 11 HBP, 7 WP, 5-7 SB) was a 26th round pick out of HS and has one of the better arms on the staff but he has had trouble with his control in his first two seasons and averaged 5 BB’s per 9 IP. 

The coaching staff thinks highly of three newcomers – FR RHP #28 Jeff Chestnut, FR RHP #25 Colton Howell and JC transfer RHP #33 Christian DeLeon – who could pitch their way into a SP role if one of the other SP’s falters.


Nebraska lost Travis Huber, their closer in 2012, but returns plenty of experienced pitchers in the bullpen to make up for that.

SR #26 Dylan Vogt (RHP – 2-1, 1.84 ERA, 25 apps, 2 saves, 54 IP, 46 H, 14 BB, 34 K, .241 AVG, 0 HR, 3 HBP, 2 WP, 0-3 SB.  ’11 – 3-1, 3.83 ERA, 21 apps, 3 GS, 47 IP, 41 H, 20 BB, 30 K, .236 AVG, 3 HR, 7 HBP, 4 WP, 2-5 SB) will be the closer and was Nebraska’s most effective pitcher in 2012.  He was second on the team in IP despite not starting a game and was among the leaders in the Big Ten in appearances.  He improved his control last season to make him much more effective and is tough to hit.

JR #21 Tyler King (LHP – 2-1, 5.40 ERA, 27 apps, 2 GS, 28 IP, 27 H, 18 BB, 21 K, .245 AVG, 2 HR, 5 HBP, 6 WP, 0-0 SB.  ’11 – 0-1, 2.21 ERA, 21 apps, 20 IP, 10 H, 18 BB, 16 K, .149 AVG, 0 HR, 2 HBP, 0 WP, 1-4 SB) led the team in appearances in 2012 and is tough to hit due to the movement on his pitches but he also has trouble keeping the ball in the strike zone.

Soph #18 Aaron Bummer (LHP – 1-0, 3.26 ERA, 20 apps, 19 IP, 16 H, 10 BB, 22 K, .219 AVG, 0 HR, 4 HBP, 1 WP, 3-3 SB) was a 31st round pick out of HS and has a good arm and figures to get the ball more this season.

Other pitchers who figure into Nebraska’s plans in addition to Chestnut, Howell and DeLeon are RHP’s JR #19 Luke Bublitz (2-1, 6.15 ERA, 21 apps, 26 IP) and SR #21 Tyler Niederklein 2-2, 7.11 ERA, 19 apps, 38 IP).  Niederklein had some health issues last season after going 8-3 with a 4.17 ERA and making 13 starts in 2011.

Cal State Bakersfield Roadrunners

  • Overall Record – 25-30
  • Conference Record – Independent  
  • Post-Season – None
  • RPI/ISR – 168/100
  • Pre-season ranking – None
  • Predicted conference finish – 5th by the WAC coaches, 5th by Baseball America, 4th by Perfect Game and 2nd by Easton College Baseball Today

Unlike Fullerton’s first two opponents this weekend – USC, which has one of the most storied traditions in college baseball, and Nebraska, who had a lengthy history of not having much success prior to the late 1990’s – Cal State Bakersfield had no history in baseball until the school decided in 2006 to move their athletic program to Division I and fielded a team for the first time in 2009.  Former Cal State Northridge head coach and Fullerton pitching coach Bill Kernen was chosen to build the program from scratch.

As would be expected, Bakersfield took their lumps in their first season when they went 13-37.  The Roadrunners showed significant improvement in 2010 when they went 26-30.  Bakersfield took another leap forward in 2011 behind a strong pitching staff when they went 33-22 and were on the bubble to get into a regional with a 55 RPI but a 2-11 stretch from late April through the middle May sank their hopes despite a 6-1 finish when they swept series against Fresno State and Cal Poly.  The Roadrunners regressed in 2012 after most of those pitchers either moved on or were injured and they fell back under .500 at 25-30.

Bakersfield got off to a solid start last season with a series win against Kansas State, who played in regionals the three previous seasons, and a midweek win against Fresno State but things started to go downhill from there as the Roadrunners went on a 4-13 skid that pretty much buried their hopes for the season.  In addition to losing most of their pitching from 2011, Bakersfield also lost quite a bit of offense and their team average went down about 25 points, they averaged a run less per game and they scored three runs or less in 23 of their games.  The Roadrunners also had issues with the pitching staff as they saw their ERA go up by over a run and they allowed at least five runs 26 times and went 4-22 in those games.

Bakersfield has wanted to get into a conference since they decided to move up to Division I but the Big West, whom they assumed would be a likely destination, has denied their overtures.  It is interesting to note that after going 4-13 in their inaugural season against Big West teams that the Roadrunners have been much more competitive against that conference with a 26-28 record over the last three seasons.  Bakersfield finally found a home this season when the WAC invited them in after they had several teams leave the conference, including Hawaii taking all of their teams except for football to the Big West. 

The Roadrunners have high hopes that they can make a run at a regional with an experienced team that returns their five best hitters and six of their seven best pitchers along with one of their weekend SP’s from 2011 who was a medical redshirt last season.  If they are going to make a run at a regional, Bakersfield will need to shore up a defense that made 86 errors and contributed to 50 unearned runs being scored in 2012.


  • Park Factor according to Boyd’s World – 101 from 2009-2011 (increases offense by 1%). Dimensions are 327-370-390-370-327. 
  • Batting Average – .261 (234th in the NCAA)
  • Runs Per Game – 4.7 (212)
  • Home Runs – 19 (195)
  • Slugging Percentage – .358 (208)
  • On Base Percentage – .351 (193)
  • Walks – 180 (188)
  • HBP’s – 80 (38)
  • Strikeouts – 414 (xx)
  • Sac Bunts – 34 (203)
  • Stolen Bases – 29 (268)


Bakersfield has an experienced infield with starters back at every position except for 3B.  The Roadrunners made 47 errors at 2B, SS and 3B so that will be something they need to fix.

C – JR #9 Cael Brockmeyer (RH – .285/.380/.460, 6-32-0.  ’11 – .244/.299/.382, 2-13-0) is a big man in the middle of the lineup who led the team in HR and RBI and was second in OBP and SLG among the regulars.  He is a patient hitter who had 22 BB’s and also got on base 10 times by HBP’s.  Runners were 31-42 on SB attempts in 2012 against Brockmeyer and he is average at blocking pitches.  He is ranked as the #5 prospect in the WAC by Baseball America for the June draft.  Brockmeyer split time between C and 1B last season and SR #16 Frank Martinez (RH – .294/.347/.471, 3-18-0 in 85 AB’s) usually caught once a weekend and runners were 11-19 against him.  Martinez was second on the team in HR’s and led the team in SLG in 2012.  Another player to keep an eye on is FR #11 Chris Mallon (RH), who is the C of the future with solid defensive skills and some pop in his bat.

1B/DH – SR #27 Dylan Christensen (RH – .244/.349/.333, 1-18-1), FR #10 Chase Gusbeth, FR #25 Nick Vehlewald and Mallon figure to compete for time at these spots with the FR hitters having a good chance to earn some playing time.  Christensen does a solid job of putting the ball in play with a 12/17 BB/K ratio in 2012 and was among the team leaders with 9 HBP’s.  He doesn’t have much power for a 1B and was second on the team last season with 7 SAC’s.  It also wouldn’t be a surprise if Brockmeyer and Martinez saw some time as part of the 1B/DH situation to get their bats into the lineup at the same time.

2B – JR #2 Oscar Sanay (RH – .312/.385/.337, 0-25-7.  ’11 – .355/.384/.418, 0-34-2) is a three year starter who has been one of the best players on the team the last two seasons, when he led the team in AVG.  Sanay is a little guy who is the engine that makes the offense go with his aggressiveness at the plate and on the bases as one of the few threats to run.  Sanay has very little power and had only five extra base hits (all 2B’s) in 2012.  He had a solid 18/25 BB/K ratio in 2012 and also got on base via 7 HBP’s.  Sanay has good range but after making 9 errors as a FR he made 14 last season.

SS – JR #22 Tyler Shryock (LH – .276/.346/.378, 2-29-2.  ’11 – .244/.304/.299, 1-15-5) is in his third year as part of the double play combo with Sanay.  Shyrock tied for second on the team in RBI last season and has a little pop for a middle infielder but takes a big swing and struck out 39 times in 2012 after striking out 40 times as a FR.  He has solid range but he also saw his error total go up from 13 in 2011 to 22 last season.

3B – FR #24 Mylz Jones (RH) is stepping into the hole in the lineup vacated by DC Legg, brother of former Fullerton 2B Derek Legg.  Jones has been impressive during fall ball and Baseball America listed him among the top five newcomers in the WAC.


Bakersfield returned their corner outfielders from 2012 so they are looking to see who will 
take over for former leadoff hitter and CF Andrew Letourneau.

LF – SR #12 Kevin Younger (LH – .285/.333/.396, 2-29-1.  ’11 – .232/.335/.287, 0-18-0) is in his third year as a starter and was among the team leaders in SLG and RBI in 2012.  He will go up to the plate swinging and struck out 47 times as a FR and 50 times last season.

CF and RF – Soph #1 Jordie Hein (LH – .228/.388/.317, 0-8-6) and Soph #20 Garrett Pierce (RH – .156/.244/.208 in 77 AB’s) will be battling to see who will play in CF with the other one playing RF.  Hein has the profile of a natural leadoff hitter as a scrappy little guy with good speed and the ability to get on base with a team leading 36 BB’s in 2012 along with 11 HBP’s.  He doesn’t have much power with his extra base hits coming due to hitting the ball into the gaps and using his speed to take extra bases.  Pierce is projected to be much better with regular playing time but if he doesn’t produce it wouldn’t be a surprise for one of the players in the 1B/DH logjam to be moved to RF.


  • ERA – 4.05 (105)
  • AVG – .279 (xx)
  • HR – 23 (xx)
  • H’s/9 IP – 9.7 (162)
  • BB’s/9 IP – 3.4 (109)
  • K’s/9 IP – 6.0 (221)
  • WHIP – 1.46 (147)

Bakersfield has an extremely experienced pitching staff after losing only one starter and having two potential starters returning from injuries that caused them to miss last season.  Kernen has conditioned his starters to pitch deep into games and they routinely throw at least 120 pitches and emphasize pitching to contact.  The Roadrunners led the country over the last two seasons with 33 complete games so they don’t rely much on their bullpen.


SR #3 Jeff McKenzie (LHP – 6-5, 2.67 ERA, 15 GS, 5 CG, 107 IP, 106 H, 37 BB, 69 K, .259 AVG, 5 HR, 6 HBP, 7 WP, 6-10 SB) was a workhorse who led the staff in innings, ERA, K’s and CG’s and threw over 130 pitches six times in his last nine starts, including a 161 pitch effort in his final start of the season against Utah.  As with most of the pitchers, he is a gamer who pitches to contact and isn’t looking to beat hitters with an overpowering fastball.  He was a pre-season All-WAC selection by Perfect Game.

JR #7 Taylor Aikenhead (LHP – 6-3, 3.20 ERA, 10 GS, 5 CG, 59 IP, 56 H, 11 BB, 31 K, .258 AVG, 0 HR, 6 HBP, 1 WP, 7-12 SB) was a threat to throw a complete game every time out but he was injured in his last start in April and missed the last five weeks of the season.  He does a good job of keeping the ball down and has outstanding control.

SR #19 Jonathon Montoya (LHP – Medical redshirt.  ’11 – 8-5, 3.67 ERA, 16 GS, 7 CG, 115 IP, 104 H, 48 BB, 86 K, .245 AVG, 5 HR, 18 HBP, 8 WP, 14-19 SB) was a workhorse for the 2011 team that almost qualified for a regional as one of the national leaders in CG’s but he missed last season after having Tommy John surgery.  He’s not a big guy but he is a tremendous competitor.  Montoya was a pre-season All-WAC selection by Perfect Game.

SR #51 Scott Brattvett (RHP – 6-5, 4.75 ERA, 14 GS, 3 CG, 91 IP, 105 H, 38 BB, 66 K, .293 AVG, 9 HR, 3 HBP, 9 WP, 10-14 SB) throws a little harder than the LHP’s but also has a little more trouble with this control and pitches up in the zone a little more, making him more prone to giving up HR’s.  Brattvet threw at least 125 pitches in four of his final eight starts.


Bakersfield returns their two leaders in appearances from 2012 and also gets two other pitchers back from injuries that have the potential to work their way into being starters.

Soph #30 Hayden Carter (RHP – 1-3, 4.81 ERA, 2 saves, 18 apps, 1 GS, 43 IP, 47 H, 23 BB, 22 K, .288 AVG, 3 HR, 3 HBP, 3 WP, 3-4 SB) shared the team lead in appearances and figures to be one of the pitchers most likely to get the ball at the end of the game.  He has control issues and is prone to getting hit when he brings the ball over the plate.

Soph #21 James Barragan (RHP – 0-4, 4.08 ERA, 18 apps, 29 IP, 28 H, 14 BB, 24 K, .259 AVG, 0 HR, 6 HBP, 6 WP, 4-4 SB) shared the team lead in appearances with Carter and would be the other part of the equation to get the ball late in games.

SR #14 Chuck Buchanan (LHP – 1-1, 3.95 ERA, 4 apps, 2 GS, 14 IP, 11 H, 8 BB, 12 K, .216 AVG) is a big guy who has some potential upside but he is working on getting healthy after missing most of last season due to an arm injury in March.

SR #18 Brandon Van Dam (RHP – Medical redshirt.  ’11 – 3-0, 1.90 ERA, 4 GS, 1 CG, 24 IP, 20 H, 8 BB, 12 K, .241 AVG) is another big guy with potential upside who threw very well in four starts in 2011 but missed the rest of that season and 2012 due to an arm injury.

JC transfer #26 Josh Rodriguez (LHP) was 9-2 with a 2.56 ERA last season in JC ball and figures to be one of the main guys getting innings in relief after throwing well in the fall.


Fullerton is the only team in the four-team group playing this weekend that is nationally ranked so they will be favored to win each game but that means they enter this weekend with a bullseye on their backs, especially when the Titans play at Bakersfield because the Roadrunners will be very motivated to make a statement by winning their first game against the perennial power from the conference that wouldn’t allow them in. 

Fullerton also has a dubious trend going against them because they haven’t finished over .500 in the opening weekend of the season since 2008.  The Titans lost the series at home to TCU in 2009, lost two out of three at home to Oregon, Pepperdine and Long Beach in 2010, split four games with North Carolina and Long Beach in 2011 and lost two out of three at Florida in 2012.  Needless to say, it will be a point of emphasis by the coaching staff to do something about that by getting off to a faster start than their predecessors have.

Fullerton should have more production from a lineup that returns just about every important piece from 2012.  There is plenty of experience with several seniors in the lineup and some of the talented younger players have gotten adjusted to hitting against Division I pitching.  As opposed to the veteran heavy lineup, the Titans will be relying on some talented freshmen and sophomores in the rotation with no upperclassmen among the starting pitching candidates.  Those pitchers could take some lumps this weekend, especially against a strong Nebraska offense, but they have been facing good hitters for a while now in practice so the adjustment shouldn’t be that big as long as they stay within themselves and focus on what they can do.

Much of what transpires in these four games will be dependent by how Fullerton comes out and plays.  If the Titans dictate things and play up to their capabilities they should be able to win three out of four games against this group of teams.  If Fullerton has a sluggish effort and plays down to the level of their opponents it wouldn’t be much of a surprise to see the Titans split the four games this weekend considering how they have opened the season the last four years.

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