Thursday, April 18, 2013

Titans' Roll Ends After Another Perfect Ten

UCSB at Titans: Won 4-3 (Friday), Won 10-2 (Saturday), Lost 2-0 (Sunday)
Titans at Pepperdine: Won 8-4 (Tuesday)

By Don Hudson

(Author’s apology: forgive the tardiness of this posting, as I was preoccupied Monday with tax return preparation and the horrible news coming from Boston.  As a native New Englander, my heart goes out for all those affected by this senseless act of violence, but there is no heartier and more resilient group of people better capable of getting up and going on.)

The Cal State Fullerton Titans maintained their #4 Baseball America ranking with a 3-1 record last week, including winning two-of-three from the UC Santa Barbara Gauchos after previously winning a home midweek game against the USC Trojans.  The Titans won the first two games of the series against UCSB but were handed their first Big West Conference defeat on Sunday, which also ended the team’s third ten-game winning streak of the season.

The Titans quickly bounced back with a win on Tuesday at picturesque Eddy D. Field, defeating the Pepperdine Waves, 8-4.

We’ll recap the UCSB series first and then touch upon the game Tuesday in Malibu.

Game 1: Titans 4, UCSB Gauchos 3

This was one of those weird, wild games you’ll remember for a long time – it was nerve-wracking, riveting, frustrating, exhilarating and thoroughly entertaining.  The Titans made not one but two comebacks in the late innings and won on a walk-off sacrifice fly by Richy Pedroza in the bottom of the ninth in a game that included some strange things you rarely – if ever – see at a baseball game.  It was the type of game where the believers were looking skyward to thank an angel wearing number 56 for looking over us, while the non-believers were reconsidering their position.

Eshelman comes so close ...
The game was a beautiful pitching duel featuring the Titans’ freshman Thomas Eshelman against the Gauchos’ Austin Pettibone, both right-handers.  There was added interest with Eshelman entering the game with 58 innings pitched without allowing a walk, with Wes Roemer’s team record of 65-1/3 innings in sight.

The first thing you rarely see – Eshelman allowed a run in the first inning, albeit on a pair of softly served singles by UCSB’s Cameron Newell and Brandon Trinkwon, followed by an RBI groundout.

Pettibone pitched effectively and kept the Titans off the board, although he had to shut the door with runners on base.  Pettibone escaped harm in the first inning after consecutive two-out hits by J.D. Davis and Michael Lorenzen.  He was aided in the third inning by a relapse of the Titans’ recent sloppy base-running, which left Fullerton scoreless despite three hits in the frame.  Austin Kingsolver led off with an infield single, but was picked off.  Pedroza singled and went to second on an infield hit by Carlos Lopez.  Second-baseman Woody Woodward demonstrated great range in fielding the ball, which may have surprised the Titans, as Pedroza attempted to get to third and was easily gunned down.

With the Gauchos clinging to a narrow 1-0 lead after five innings and Eshelman inching closer to Roemer’s record, he retired the leadoff man in the top of the sixth to bring up Trinkwon, who is an excellent hitter.  Eshelman fell behind, worked back to a full count and then threw ball four high and outside – something Titans fans had never seen before.  While sorry to see the streak ended, I think there was a collective sigh of relief.  I was glad of two things: he walked a very good hitter, rather than give in to extend a personal record, and the pitch was not borderline.  The worst thing would have been to walk a weak hitter in a blowout on a borderline pitch – this was a “no doubt about it” walk.

The Titans had Pettibone on the ropes in the bottom of the sixth when the pitcher walked Davis and hit Lorenzen with a pitch, but his wildness was momentary when he induced Chad Wallach, whose brother was behind the backstop watching the game with the legendary Tommy Lasorda, to hit into an inning-ending double-play.

What happened the next couple innings was really crazy.

With one out in the bottom of the seventh, Anthony Hutting slammed his second line-drive single of the game into right-field.  Matt Chapman came to the plate, scuffling in a recent hitting slump.  Chappy hit a hard groundball towards shortstop - an almost certain double-play.  But something you rarely see at Goodwin Field happened – the ball hit the lip of the infield and jumped way over the head of the helpless Trinkwon.  Austin Diemer, pinch-running for Hutting, easily reached third-base and Chapman advanced to second when the left-fielder misplayed the ball.

With the speedy and adept bat-handling Kingsolver coming up with the tying run at third and one out, the UCSB infield played in and was on high alert for a possible squeeze play.  With two strikes on him, Kingsolver got a piece of several pitches and just barely fouled them off to stay alive.  Even with a two-strike count, the infield played in.

Cracked Wiffle Ball
Kingsolver then hit a ball like I’d never seen before – he took a full cut and lifted a soft, spinning looper that found a safe haven on the grass between the mound and first-base.  It wasn’t high enough to call it a “pop-up” and too soft to call it a “line drive.  If it was billiards, it would have been a miscue; if golf, you’d request a Mulligan.  The closest thing I’ve ever seen to it is when you hit a cracked Wiffle Ball ® that thuds to the ground and doesn’t roll.

Diemer scored on Kingsolver’s perfectly placed single and Chapman went to third, the potential go-ahead run.  Pettibone might have escaped with no additional damage when he got Pedroza to hit a grounder to second-base for what appeared a likely double-play, the first-baseman was unable to catch the relay throw, allowing Pedroza to reach base and Chapman to score, giving the Titans a stunning 2-1 lead.

Now staked with a one-run lead, Eshelman was tough in the eighth inning, setting down the first two hitters before allowing a single to Woodward.  But he retired his nemesis, Trinkwon, and looked likely to post his eighth win of the year.

That’s around the time something else happened that I had never seen before: the Gauchos’ closer, Dylan Hecht, went down to the ground in the bullpen area like a sack of potatoes dropped off the tailgate at the farmer’s market.  He was prone for what appeared a few minutes before the dugout realized they had an issue and the trainer raced down to aid him.  I understand he was hit in the head by a throw from a bullpen catcher.

The Titans finally chased Pettibone in the bottom of the eighth.  Lorenzen singled and went to second on a fielder’s choice, prompting UCSB coach Andrew Checketts to summon lefty reliever Greg Mahle to face left-handed-hitting Keegan Dale, a late-game defensive replacement.  Lorenzen advanced to third on a passed ball, but Mahle worked out of the jam with a strikeout.

Lorenzen quickly shifted gears from base-runner to closer, moving to the mound to protect the 2-1 lead.  The first batter he faced hit the ball hard, but a line-drive to leftfield stayed up and was caught by Diemer.  Tyler Kuresa turned on a fastball and lined a sharp single into rightfield.  Luke Swenson then ripped a game-tying triple to rightfield.  Tied 2-2, Lorenzen quickly got ahead of hitter Jackson Morrow with two strikes, but then Morrow rewarded Coach Checketts’ gutsy confidence when they perfectly executed a suicide squeeze on a 96 mph 0-2 pitch.

The crowd was shocked, but the dugout was calm and confident.

Clinging to a slim 3-2 lead and two right-handed batters coming up for the Titans, Checketts eschewed the use of his closer and stayed with Mahle.  Diemer led off with a beautiful bunt single, which prompted Checketts to bring in the perhaps-still-dazed Hecht.

Do you have Chapman bunt the runner to second?  Do you have Diemer attempt a steal and then bunt him to third?  It was moot, as Hecht couldn’t find the plate – literally, perhaps – and Chapman walked on four pitches way out of the strike zone.

Kingsolver went up trying to bunt both runners into scoring position, but Hecht still couldn’t find the strike zone and ran the count to 3-0 before he was removed and replaced by Jared Wilson, who walked Kingsolver to load the bases.

With Pedroza batting, the infield played in: even with the speedy Diemer on third, it’s tough to squeeze when there is a force-out at home and the infield is in.  But Wilson uncorked a wild pitch that tied the game and sent Chapman to third-base as the potential winning run with nobody out.

Pedroza, who had the huge two-run single the previous weekend to win the Saturday game at UC Davis, delivered with a deep flyball that allowed Chapman to easily score the winning run.  The Titans rushed from the dugout and bullpen and swarmed Pedroza – it was a celebration worthy of such a crazy and thrilling walk-off win.

Eshelman had another strong outing, pitching eight innings and allowing just five singles and one walk with his seven (Klondike) strikeouts.  Lorenzen suffered his first blown save after 16 consecutive converted going back to 2012, but was the winning pitcher.  The Titans had twelve hits, led by Lopez, Lorenzen, Hutting and Kingsolver with two each.

Game 2: Titans 10, UCSB Gauchos 2

After Friday’s tense victory, the Titans extended their winning streak to ten games Saturday night with a much more relaxed, uneventful win over the Gauchos on the strength of a sixteen-hit attack that included hits by every starter.  It was the third time this season the Titans had posted ten straight wins.

Garza dominant
Justin Garza, the beneficiary of the offensive outburst and the game’s winning pitcher, got a couple breaks right away – the Gauchos’ “hangover,” as Coach Checketts later described it, included some carryover bad luck from the night before.  Newell led off by smoking a line-drive headed toward the gap in left-centerfield, but Lorenzen came out of nowhere and made a spectacular diving grab to rob him of an extra-base hit.  A subsequent line-drive that appeared to hit turf just inside the foul line was ruled foul.  It was a deflating 1-2-3 inning for the Gauchos, and the Titans wasted no time stepping on their esophagus.

Pedroza led off with a single and moved to third on a double by Lopez that placed pitcher Justin Jacome in quick jeopardy.  Davis hit a high-hopper up the middle that was backhanded by Woodward to prevent it going through for two runs, but it was an infield single that drove in Pedroza to make it 1-0.  After Lorenzen was hit by pitch to load the bases, Wallach and Chapman delivered sacrifice flies to make it 3-0.  Chapman crushed the ball and was robbed on a great grab by UCSB right-fielder Swenson.

The Gauchos didn’t roll over, opening the second inning with a double and single before Garza induced a run-scoring double-play ball that made it 3-1.  But the Titans quickly counter-punched with a run of its own in the bottom of the second on a triple by Diemer and RBI single by Pedroza.

The Titans finally knocked Jacome out of the game when Jake Jefferies doubled and Greg Velazquez singled to open the fourth inning.  Jefferies remained at second, uncertain whether or not the ball hit by Velazquez would fall in.

After a pair of failed bunt attempts, Diemer nicely hit the ball to the right side of the infield, advancing both runners.  A sacrifice fly by Pedroza drove in Jefferies, followed by an RBI single by Lopez and RBI triple by Davis.

While the Gauchos made good contact against Garza, he did what you want from a pitcher with a five-run lead: he threw strikes and helped himself defensively.  He and Lopez combined on a couple athletic 3-1 plays and Garza also helped himself in the fifth inning by snaring a hard-hit line-drive up the middle and turning it into a double-play.  While Garza was 25-1 in his pitching career with the Bonita Bearcats, he was also a skilled shortstop when not pitching.  He has the hands and reflexes of an infielder – and it must have been a treat to watch him throw from deep in the shortstop hole with that hose.

Wallach led off the bottom of the fifth with his first home run of the season.  The Titans extended their lead to 9-1 when Chapman followed with a double and scored on an RBI single by Diemer.

Woodward hit a home run into the left-field screen in the sixth to make it 9-2, but Chapman responded in the bottom of the eighth with his first home run of the season to make it 10-2.

Tyler Peitzmeier pitched a 1-2-3 eighth inning for the Titans.  Dave Birosak made his second appearance of the season and faced three right-handed pinch-hitters in the ninth inning.  He allowed a leadoff hit, but finished it off with a flyball and a double-play.

Garza (7-0, 2.36) was the winning pitcher, recording nine strikeouts in seven innings while walking none and giving up five hits.  Lopez and Diemer led with three hits each, while Pedroza, Davis and Chapman had two apiece.

Game 3: UCSB Gauchos 2,  Titans 0

This game was hard to predict.  With the momentum of a ten-game winning streak, a huge comeback win on Friday and a blowout win on Saturday, the Titans might have come out overconfident against a Gauchos team that had “TBD” pitching on Sunday.  The Gauchos had been struggling to find a “Sunday starter”, having lost its last four series finales.

Coach Checketts went with freshman right-hander Robby Nesovic, a hard thrower with a record of 0-1 and ERA of 7.30.  Between the call for a suicide squeeze on an 0-2 count Friday night against Lorenzen and the decision to start Nesovic in the finale, you can’t help but be struck by how much better the Gauchos’ program has become since “Brontosaurus Bob” Brontsema was relieved of coaching duties following the 2011 season.

After the Titans’ Grahamm Wiest and Nesovic swapped zeros in the first inning, the Gauchos broke through on a controversial call.  Nesovic struck out leading off the inning, but reached base by wild pitch when the ball got past Wallach.

Kuresa then hit a ball deep towards the fence in right-centerfield.  The ball appeared to bounce off the orange stripe at the top of the fence, which would make it a live ball in play.  But first-base umpire Dan Ignosci emphatically waved his finger in a circular motion, indicating it was a home run.  The batter went into his home run trot when seeing the signal, but Nesovic continued running the bases and was thrown out at the plate – home umpire Johnny Pineda gave a great windmill “You’re out!” signal when Wallach tagged Nesovic.

Coach Vanderhook argued that the ball had stayed in the park – it pretty clearly had – and convinced Ignosci to confer with his crewmates.  After a lengthy conference, you knew there would be a reversal when they went over to talk to Checketts.

They actually made a “common sense” ruling: Ignosci had erred in indicating it was a home run, but you couldn’t call the runner out on the bases after an umpire had already indicated it was okay to trot.  They treated the home run indication similar to the inadvertent whistle in football – they put runners on second and third with nobody out.  I’m not sure it was treated exactly by the rules, but I was impressed by the common sense nature of the outcome.

Instead of trailing 2-0 – as had already been put up on the scoreboard – it felt like the Titans were playing with house money when Wiest got out of the inning with just one of the runners scoring.

Wiest had a brief control spasm in the fifth inning and allowed a second run.  After hitting the first batter and allowing a single, Wiest drew Lopez off the bag on a throw to first on a sacrifice bunt.  A double-play scored the run but minimized the damage.

The Titans continued to threaten, mostly on walks (seven in the game) and HBP (two).  There were several frustrating situations, such as the fifth inning when they left the bases loaded, but most of the opportunities came with two out and the Titans just couldn’t deliver those clutch two-out RBI hits that has been their trademark this season.

Give credit also to the Gauchos defense: they made a couple of outstanding plays, especially in the infield.  Second-baseman Woodward robbed Kingsolver of a base-hit with a diving stop to his left, while third-baseman Ryan Clark made the game-deciding play in the bottom of the sixth.

Davis led off the inning with a single and Wallach was hit by pitch with two outs.  Chapman then smoked a ball down the third-base line, heading towards the leftfield corner for a game-tying double.  But Ryan made an incredible backhand diving play and made a strong throw to retire Chapman and help Nesovic out of the inning.

Checketts told the Santa Barbara newspaper, “They were going to score one on that, maybe two. (The ball) was going to rattle around in the (left-field) corner and they probably were going to score two and it would have been a tie ballgame.

"I had a pretty good vantage point (from the first base dugout) looking down the line, and he came out of nowhere. He really looked like Superman because that ball looked like it was by him. He almost had to dive backwards."

Frustration returned in the bottom of the seventh as the Titans once again left the bases loaded.  Mahle came in to relieve Nesovic with two outs and one runner on.  Things looked promising when Lopez and Davis walked to bring Lorenzen to the plate with the bases loaded – classic case of “right man, right spot.”  But Mahle settled down and got Lorenzen to pop out to end the threat.

Lefty relievers Mahle and Tyler Peitzmeier swapped zeros the final two innings and the Titans were shut out, 2-0.

It was a strange game when a pitching staff walks seven games and throws a shutout against a good team on the road, but Gauchos pitchers held the Titans to just four hits: two by Davis and one each by Wallach and Dale.

It was a tough loss for Wiest (now 6-2, 2.70), who allowed just two runs and four hits in seven innings.  Peitzmeier continued with his dominating performances, retiring all six batters he faced.

Tuesday Game:  Titans  8,  Pepperdine Waves  4

- In a designated staff game that featured twelve pitchers (seven Titans and five Waves), the Titans were outhit (10-7) but came out with the big hits and key defensive plays when they were needed most and they broke their losing streak at one game. (Whew!  I’m glad that’s over!)

Kennedy tags out runner at plate
The Waves squandered a golden opportunity to take an early lead when their first four batters reached base against Davis on two hits and two walks but came up empty-handed.  Leadoff man Hutton Moyer drove the first pitch he saw up the middle for a base hit, but Davis picked him off for the first out.  After two consecutive walks, cleanup hitter Sam Meyer lined a sharp single to centerfield, where Lorenzen was playing shallow and fielded it on one hop.  The third-base coach waved the runner in and Lorenzen threw a strike to catcher A.J. Kennedy, who applied the tag.

The Titans made the Waves pay with three runs in the second, two of them unearned.  Davis walked, Jefferies singled and Velazquez followed with an RBI double.  Diemer reached on an error, with Jefferies scoring.  Kennedy delivered the third run with an RBI groundout.

Freshman lefthander Bryan Conant pitched flawlessly in the second and third innings.  He retired all six batters he faced in earning the win, striking out three.

Velazquez continued his breakout day, leading off the fourth inning with his first home run of the year to extend the lead to 4-0.

Pepperdine’s Bryan Langlois matched the home run with one of his own in the bottom of the inning off Jose Cardona to cut the lead to 4-1.

The Titans got into the Pepperdine bullpen in the top of the fifth.  Chapman hit a one-out triple deep to centerfield and scored on a sacrifice fly by Lorenzen.  Davis was then hit by pitch, went to second when Jefferies reached on error and scored on an RBI single by Velazquez.

Leading 6-1, Titans’ reliever Willie Kuhl committed the cardinal sin: he walked the leadoff man on four pitches.  After striking out the next hitter, the Waves got back within striking distance when they touched up Kuhl for a double, an RBI single and a hit batsman that brought the tying run to the plate.

Moyer smashed the ball down the third-base line, where Chapman made a diving backhand play to knock it down and prevent a bases-clearing double.  Chapman recovered quickly, tagged third for the force-out and fired across to Lopez, who “deked” Moyer into jogging by acting as though the ball had gone into the outfield and there would be no play at first.  The fans were pretty upset with Moyer for not running harder and they let him know about it.

Kuhl took the 6-2 lead to the bottom of the sixth and was replaced by Birosak after walking the leadoff batter for the second straight inning.  Chris Amezquita, who had walked, scored from first when Aaron Brown’s routine single was misplayed by Velazquez in rightfield.  Brown scored on a sacrifice fly off reliever Michael Lopez to cut the lead to 6-4.

But if you’ve been following the Titans this season, who know what happened next: they came right back with two runs of their own.  Davis and Jefferies singled to begin the seventh inning, which brought up Velazquez, just a triple short of a cycle.  But this is a team game and the situation called for a bunt, which pinch-hitter Kingsolver successfully delivered.

The two runners Kingsolver bunted along both scored: Davis on a wild pitch and Dale (pinch-running for Jefferies) on a passed ball.  (Pepperdine coach Steve Rodriguez was demonstrably unhappy with his catcher, Kolten Yamaguchi, who leads the Waves in batting.  After the wild pitch, passed ball and a pitch that hurt the umpire when the catcher missed it, Rodriguez yanked his catcher with a 3-0 count on the batter.)

Conant earns first win
The Waves continued to battle, getting a double and single to bring Koby Gauna in from the Fullerton bullpen with one out in the seventh inning.  Gauna was nails – as he has been every game he pitches out of the bullpen – and struck out the first batter he faced and escaped harm with a groundout.
Gauna finished it out in style, retiring all eight batters he faced to earn his second save of 2013.  (It was a save situation because the tying run was on deck when he entered the game.)

While Conant and Gauna were the mound stars, Velazquez was the offensive standout with three hits, a double, home run and three RBI.  Jefferies was the only other Titan with multiple hits (two).


So what have we learned recently?

We learned how spoiled we are by the Titans’ consistent success.  After the loss on Sunday to UCSB, a couple distraught Titans fans were licking their wounds with laments that “Every time we win ten games in a row this season, we always lose the next game.”  When I heard that, my response sounded like Kyle Broflovski’s mother:  “WHAT! WHAT! WHAT?”

To most teams, a ten-game winning streak is something you’ll be celebrating far into the future – it will be the big topic at your post-season banquet.  Hell, I’m still celebrating the ten-game winning streak the Red Sox had in July 1967 that got them back into the pennant race during their “Impossible Dream” season.

Two ten-game streaks in the same season?  Highly unlikely.  But three?  Poor pitiful us – our team could never deliver that elusive eleventh win during their hot streaks.

Sidebar with my old Conimicut School friend Ralph: this week’s news from Boston, along with thoughts of the ’67 season, made me think of the Ken Coleman narrative on the “Impossible Dream” album.

See how well you know your “Don” trivia: can you name my all-time favorite ballplayer, who is referenced in that narrative.  (Answer next week.)

I really hope the placement of the visitors’ bullpen in foul territory in the right-field corner is temporary.  We’ve already seen more inside-the-park home runs hit down into that bullpen than I recall seeing at Goodwin Field the previous ten years.  There had to be at least a dozen balls escape past the Gauchos’ bullpen catchers over the weekend, some resulting in last-moment time-out calls in the game and others in just simple annoyances.

Congratulations to Coach Rick Vanderhook, who signed a contract extension through the 2018 season.  It is well deserved.  After a challenging year in 2012 assuming head coaching duties for the first time and dealing with the inherent difficulties of a coaching staff transition, Vanderhook has his team very focused and in a great place.  Every button he has pushed this season has worked almost flawlessly, and his staff works extremely well together.  I wrote recently that “the Titans might get behind but they don’t get down” – there is a direct correlation between leadership and how this team has become a prolific “counter-puncher.”

Congratulations also to Eshelman and Lorenzen for being named to the College Baseball Hall of Fame 2013 Pitcher of the Year Watch List.

Kudos and best wishes also to Matt Brown, named recently as Director of Photography for the Los Angeles Angels.  His work is amazing – Matt’s photos and videos have greatly enhanced the experience of being a fan of the Titans and numerous local teams.  He is extraordinarily creative and has a very insightful and imaginative insight into the people and situations that make sports so compelling.  It was great to see him yesterday at the Pepperdine game in Malibu – I’m glad as a fan that he will continue to bring us great images of the Titans’ game as often as his busy schedule permits.

The “bright spot” of Eshelman allowing a walk last Friday: he is now eligible for inclusion in the “strikeouts to walks” ratio rankings.  The baseball purist in me found it puzzling that “47 strikeouts to 5 walks” (which is also quite impressive) somehow was ranked, while “39 strikeouts to 0 walks” was absent from the rankings.

But the engineer in me would have found it opprobrious had they expressed something as a “ratio” with a zero denominator.  Through the beauty of mathematics, a ratio of “1 strikeout to 0 walks” is the same as “100 strikeouts to 0 walks” – both equal infinity and are therefore illogical concepts.
I have a lot of issues.

As happens so often in baseball, Chapman’s “lucky hop” in the UCSB opener may have been just what he needed to get out of his funk.  Since the hit that bounced off the lip of the infield, he has had mostly quality at-bats and worked his way up to third in the batting order against Pepperdine after hitting eighth on Friday.

The paltry four-hit team output on Sunday depressed the batting averages, but there were nevertheless a few standout performances against UCSB, led by Diemer’s 4-for-6 (.667), Davis’ 5-for-10 (.500) and Lopez’ 5-for-12 (.412).

Velazquez clubs first homer
With Saturday’s home runs by Wallach and Chapman and Tuesday’s by Velazquez, the team now has ten different players that have connected for a round-tripper.  Last season, just five players (Davis, Lorenzen, Chapman, Hutting and Lopez) combined for 10 home runs in 57 games, while this year’s team has 22 bombs through 37 games.  From here to the finish line, it would be nice to see a few of the players currently with one home run get up to three or four – but with continued balance up and down the line-up.  We don’t need a lot of power productivity in the leadoff and bottom-of-the-order slots in the batting order, but I would expect to see a couple more bombs each from the middle-of-the-order hitters along the 2013 journey.  If half the players with one home run currently end up with four or five, the Titans could make a lot of noise in June.

Ever since the defensive meltdown in the second half of the game at UCLA, the Titans’ defense has been steady and occasionally outstanding.  The defense was the biggest difference in the UC Davis series and again yesterday against Pepperdine.  Pedroza has been all over the field – he has made some great catches on shallow flyballs and his arm strength from deep in the hole or behind second-base has been impressive.

You can hardly get upset when Lorenzen blows a save after converting sixteen in a row – but for his own health and well-being, there has to be some concern about bringing him in when circumstances don’t allow him adequate time to warm up completely in the bullpen.  In the game Friday, he was on base when the Gauchos made a pitching change, so his only opportunity to warm up was throwing briefly in front of the dugout while the opposing reliever made his eight warm-up pitches.  Lorenzen’s velocity was great – he was in the 95-97 range – but the Gauchos squared him up pretty well.

This weekend’s series at Cal Poly SLO is HUGE for both teams.  One-third of the way through Big West Conference action, it is imperative for Fullerton to win their remaining series if they want to remain in contention as a national seed.  A series win by Cal Poly will keep them in contention for the conference title and would greatly enhance their resume to receive an at-large berth in the NCAA tournament if they don’t win the BWC.

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