Thursday, April 11, 2013

UC Santa Barbara Series Preview

UC Santa Barbara at Titans
Friday 7 p.m.; Saturday 6 p.m.; Sunday 1 p.m.


By FullertonBaseballFan

Cal State Fullerton has had a great deal of momentum throughout the 2013 season, putting together two ten game winning streaks and taking a seven game winning streak into this week after going 4-0 last week to improve their record away from Goodwin Field to 16-1, which is the most road wins for anybody in the country.  The Titans won a matchup of top ten teams at UCLA 9-6 last Tuesday and swept their first road series on the conference schedule at UC Davis.  Things didn’t go as easy against the Aggies as it looked like they could before the series with UC Davis dropping their previous five series but the Titans ended up winning all three games by scores of 3-0, 4-2 and 5-2.  Fullerton got this week started off on the right foot by beating USC 6-4 on Tuesday to improve their record to 29-4 with their eighth straight win.

ullerton hammered the ball against Pacific on their way to scoring 45 runs and continued their onslaught against UCLA, scoring two runs in the first inning when Richy Pedroza led off with a walk, J.D. Davis doubled him in and Michael Lorenzen extended his hitting streak to thirteen games with by singling in Davis.  UCLA cut the lead by scoring a run in the second and took the lead when Pat Valaika hit a two run HR in the third off of starter Willie Kuhl.  The Titans responded as they often have this season, scoring two runs in the top of the fourth to take the lead for good when Lorenzen singled, Hutting singled him to third, a wild pitch scored Lorenzen to tie the game and an RBI groundout by Jared Deacon gave them the lead.  Fullerton added to their lead in the fifth when Carlos Lopez doubled and Davis singled him in and put the game away with four runs in the sixth when Deacon walked, Keegan Dale reached with two outs when the pitcher threw wide of first for an error on his bunt, Pedroza walked to load the bases, Lopez’s single drove in two runs, Davis walked to load the bases again and Lorenzen’s single scored two more runs.  UCLA scored a run in each of the sixth, seventh and eighth innings thanks to some help from the Titans with four errors in those innings before Lorenzen came in to finish things off in the ninth with a 1-2-3 inning for his ninth save.  Reliever Tyler Peitzmeier was the winner and improved his record to 2-0 with two scoreless innings.  Lorenzen had four hits and three RBI, Lopez and Davis both had two hits and two RBI and Pedroza had two hits and scored twice.

Fullerton once again scored in the first inning on Friday when Lopez tripled and was thrown out at home when Davis grounded out but advanced to second on the play and scored with two outs when the UC Davis SS threw Lorenzen’s grounder away.  The Titans scored in the third when Lopez walked, stole second and went to third when the throw went into CF, Lorenzen walked, Hutting was hit by a pitch to load the bases and Matt Chapman walked to force in the run.  Fullerton continued to get guys on base against Aggies starter Harry Stanwyck over the next three innings to push up his pitch count before UC Davis went to the bullpen but couldn’t get anybody across while Thomas Eshelman was his usual efficient self, allowing a single in each of the first four innings but holding the Aggies off of the scoreboard.  The Titans scored an insurance run in the eighth when Jake Jefferies led off with a single, Chad Wallach bunted over pinch-runner Keegan Dale, Austin Diemer’s infield single moved Dale to third and Lopez’s single drove in the run.  Eshelman retired the last fourteen batters he faced and Lorenzen pitched a 1-2-3 ninth for his conference leading tenth save.  Eshelman improved his record to 7-1 and lowered his ERA to 1.09 after allowing four hits in eight scoreless innings and stretching his streak without a walk to start the season to 58 innings.  Lorenzen was hitless in the game and saw his hitting streak snapped.

Fullerton had UC Davis starter Spencer Koopmans on the ropes on Saturday with two singles and a walk in the first inning but couldn’t push a run across and he traded zeroes with Justin Garza until the Aggies broke through with a run on three hits in the bottom of the fourth.  UC Davis added to the lead with a run on three hits in the fifth and it looked like the Titans might be in trouble in this one.  Fullerton finally got to Koopmans in the seventh with the help of the Aggies defense when Lorenzen reached on an error, Chapman walked and Jefferies singled in Lorenzen and the Aggies brought in closer Max Cordy, who got them out of the inning.  The Titans loaded the bases against Cordy in the eighth on a single, walk and a HBP but were unable to score.  Fullerton rallied for their third late inning comeback in two years against UC Davis in the ninth with more help from the Aggies when their SS threw away a one out grounder by Austin Kingsolver, pinch-hitter Clay Williamson walked, they moved up on a wild pitch and Pedroza’s single up the middle against a drawn in infield gave the Titans the lead and Davis’ long RBI double put Fullerton up by two runs.  Lorenzen picked up his third save of the week with his third straight 1-2-3 inning thanks to an outstanding catch by Williamson when he crashed into the RF wall and held onto the ball, turning a potential triple into a long out.  Garza went 7 1/3 innings and allowed two runs on nine hits with no walks and five strikeouts and Peitzmeier picked up his second win of the week by retiring both hitters he faced in the eighth before Fullerton’s comeback in the top of the ninth.

Fullerton jumped out to the lead in the final game of the series in the first when Pedroza singled, Lopez bunted him over, Pedroza stole third and Davis singled him in.  Grahamm Wiest pitched around doubles in each of the first two innings before the Titans put things away in the third with four runs when Pedroza once again got on base with a double, Lopez moved up to second and Pedroza scored when UC Davis starter Evan Wolf threw Lopez’s bunt away, Davis reached on an error on the SS and Lorenzen brought the hammer down when he crushed a ball to LF for a three run HR for his sixth HR of the season but that was it for the scoring for the Fullerton as they were held scoreless the rest of the way.  Wiest retired the Aggies in order in the third and fourth before allowing a run in the fifth and retired them in order in the sixth and seventh before allowing a run in the eighth, with Peitzmeier coming in to finish off the inning and Davis ended things in the ninth for his second save.  Wiest improved his record to 6-1 and lowered his ERA to 2.72 after allowing two runs on six hits with one walk in 7 2/3 innings.

Fullerton crushed the ball against Pacific when they hit .415 but that series looks like the outlier because they once again had issues hitting against weekend pitching at UC Davis.  The Titans only hit .234 in the series (25/107) and averaged four runs a game, with five of the twelve runs they scored being unearned due to a porous Aggies defense that made ten errors during the weekend.  Fullerton continued to do a solid job at working counts and taking walks and HBP’s with thirteen free passes but even that number is a little low compared to the usual six to seven free bases that the Titans usually get in games.  Despite all of that, Fullerton did have some noteworthy efforts this weekend with Lopez going 5-13 and increasing his Big West lead with three SB’s, Pedroza went hitless in the first game but went 5-8 in the final two games of the series with the game winning single on Saturday, Jefferies went 4-12 with hits in all three games and Lorenzen only went 2-13 but had the key three run HR on Sunday.  The pitchers came through this weekend and were dominant in holding a solid UC Davis offense to four runs in three games with a .208 AVG (20-96) and allowed only one walk all weekend.

Fullerton returned home to start this week and defeated USC 6-4 on Tuesday to extend their winning streak to eight games.  This game was similar to Sunday’s at UC Davis with most of the damage coming in the third inning from the long ball.  Davis hit the Titans’ fourth grand slam of the season to give them a 5-2 lead and Lorenzen went back to back with his seventh HR of the season and that was it for the scoring as the middle relievers held things down before Lorenzen finished things off for his twelfth save.  The degree of difficulty on the schedule figures to start increasing this weekend with the UC Santa Barbara Gauchos coming to Goodwin Field.  UCSB is coming off of a series win at home against nationally ranked Cal Poly and would like to make a statement that they will be a contender in the Big West this season.  The Gauchos would also like to get some revenge after losing a heated series to Fullerton in Goleta last season when one of their relievers mouthed off to the local paper after UCSB won the second game of the series about how he enjoyed making hitters look stupid and ended up being the one looking stupid when he grabbed himself below the belt while leaving the game as he heard it from the Fullerton dugout and crowd after he allowed five runs as the Titans pulled away in the final game of the series.


UC Santa Barbara Gauchos (17-14, 3-3)

·       2012 Overall Record – 28-28
·       2012 Conference Record – 10-14 (tied for 6th)
·       2012 Post-Season – None
·       2013 RPI/ISR – 110/78.  2012 RPI/ISR – 132/75
·       Pre-season/Current ranking – None
·       Predicted conf finish – 3rd by Easton College Baseball, 4th by Perfect Game, 5th by the Big West coaches and Baseball America


2012 Summary and 2013 Preview

UCSB was mediocre in 2009-2011 and went 28-23, 11-13 (5th) in 2009, 23-30, 10-14 (5th) in 2010 and 26-26, 10-14 (6th) in 2011 with a very experienced team and the result of failing to qualify for a regional for the tenth straight season in 2011 was a coaching change with longtime head coach Bob Brontsema being replaced by former UC Riverside and Oregon pitching coach Andrew Checketts, who has brought some new energy to the program that hasn’t been seen for a while with a recruiting class that arrived this fall that was ranked in the top twenty nationally by Baseball America and Collegiate Baseball.

The Gauchos were an inconsistent team in 2012 that lost four of their six non-conference series against Oregon State, LMU, Nevada and USF (the latter three on the road) but swept the other two series at San Jose State and at home against Rhode Island.  UCSB was also inconsistent in conference series, not playing well by going 1-11 against the top four teams in the Big West (Fullerton, Cal Poly, Long Beach and Irvine) while going 9-3 against the next four teams in the conference standings to finish up 28-28 overall and 10-14 and tied for 6th in the Big West.

UCSB had the worst offense in the Big West in 2010 despite playing in one of the more favorable hitting parks in the conference, their offense was a little better in 2011 and they were in the middle of the pack in most offensive categories but things changed last season and the Gauchos were second in the Big West in scoring, AVG and SLG.  UCSB tended to play for the big inning and didn’t play much little ball under Brontsema but that changed with Checketts taking over and the Gauchos bunted quite a bit and led the conference in SB’s and SB attempts but were probably overaggressive and had 37 runners caught stealing.  UCSB was a very good offensive team at home, hitting .289 and scoring 6.3 runs per game but had their issues on the road where they hit .265 and averaged 4.5 runs per game.  The numbers for the Gauchos in conference games were similar to their road numbers and they hit .262 and averaged 4.7 runs per game.

UCSB had ERA’s over 5.00 in 2009-2010 but the BBCOR bats helped to bring their ERA down to 3.63 in 2011 and the Gauchos weekend rotation lacked power arms (second fewest strikeouts in the Big West) but most of their pitchers had solid control.  That all changed in 2012 and UCSB easily led the conference in strikeouts but they also easily led the Big West in walks, HBP’s and wild pitches, the team ERA went up by about half a run to 4.14 and the Gauchos allowed at least five runs thirty-three times.

UCSB started this season by winning a series at Fresno State before returning home and splitting a four game series with USF and sweeping San Jose State.  The Gauchos tested themselves by traveling to Texas but didn’t pass that test, getting swept by the Longhorns, and won their series against Sac State when they returned home.  UCSB’s final non-conference series was against their central coast rivals from Cal Poly and the home team won each game with the Mustangs winning two games in SLO.  The Gauchos continued to have trouble on the road when they opened up the Big West schedule by losing their series at Hawaii before winning an additional non-conference game on the islands.  UCSB returned home and played well against Cal Poly in their second series in three weeks against the Mustangs and won the first two games of the series, one a 4-2 pitchers’ duel and the other a 13-2 blowout, before losing the final game 7-6 when they were down big early and came back to almost pull the game out with two runs in the eighth and two runs in the ninth.

UCSB has good team speed and has continued to play an aggressive style of ball this season on the bases and is among the conference leaders in SB’s but they are much more efficient (40-56 SB’s) than they were in 2012 and they have also hit into the fewest DP’s in the Big West.  They are bunting less and swinging away more but that hasn’t always worked out, especially on the road.  The Gauchos are 12-6 at home, where they are hitting .290 and scoring 5.6 runs per game, and they are 5-8 on the road where they are hitting .234 and scoring 4.7 runs per game.

UCSB had two of the biggest power arms in the Big West in 2012 but one of them moved on and the other one hasn’t been effective and the result has been some regression in the number of strikeouts back to the middle of the pack in the conference.  However, that has also meant that the Gauchos pitchers haven’t been nearly as wild and have gone from the bottom of the Big West to the middle of the pack in walks and they have thrown the second fewest HBP’s.  The UCSB pitchers have been giving up more hits due to pitching to contact more but the end result with less runners getting on base due to free bases has been a team ERA that is about the same as it was in 2012.


Offense

·       Park Factor according to Boyd’s World – 102 (increases offense by 2%).  UCSB only plays day games because they don’t have lights and the winds coming in from the ocean are usually blowing out.
·       Batting Average – .267 (6th in the Big West/161st nationally).  .277 in 2012 (2/141).
·       Scoring – 156 (3/144), 5.2 runs per game.  302 (2/145), 5.4 runs per game in 2012.
·       Home Runs – 8 (5/173).  17 in 2012 (4/214).
·       Slugging Percentage – .350 (7/186).  .376 in 2012 (6/157).
·       On Base Percentage – .364 (4/112).  357 in 2012 (5/165).
·       Walks – 103 (4/163), 3.4 per game.  195 in 2012 (4/160), 3.5 per game.
·       HBP’s – 53 (2/12).  58 in 2012 (6/131).
·       Strikeouts – 165 (6/xx), 5.5 per game.  298 in 2012 (6/xx), 5.3 per game.
·       Stolen Bases – 40-56 (2/85).  58-95 in 2012 (1/129).
·       Sac Bunts – 22 (6/135).  56 in 2012 (4/65).

Infield

UCSB lost three SR starters in their infield at C, 2B and 3B but the team has become more athletic with the incoming FR and transfers that have taken over in those positions.

C – JC transfer #14 Jackson Morrow (RH – .247/.360/.299, 0-7-4) took over for Bryce Tafelski and has been an upgrade offensively and defensively before slumping recently, going 2-22 in the first two conference series.  He has been an iron man and has started 29 of 31 games.  Morrow has good speed for a C and is third on the team in SB’s.  He only has a little bit of power with four extra base hits (three 2B’s, one 3B) but has some trouble with making contact and leads the team with 22 strikeouts.  He has been hitting all over the lineup, even leading off five times, but has been batting seventh lately.  Morrow has hit .276 at home but has had issues on the road, hitting .205.

1B – Soph #18 Tyler Kuresa (LH – .299/.371/.419, 1-24-1) was an 11th round draft pick out of HS and decided to go to Oregon instead of signing but things didn’t go well for him as a FR and he only hit .191 in 89 AB’s and transferred to UCSB and had to sit out in 2012.  He was one of the better hitters on the team in the fall and has continued to hit well in the middle of the lineup, batting cleanup most of the season before settling into the fifth spot the last couple of weeks.  Kuresa is a productive hitter and one of the main sources for power who is third in the conference in RBI, 18 of them at home and six on the road.  He has solid plate discipline for a tall man with a bit of a long swing with a 9/13 BB/K ratio.

2B/LF – Soph #5 Joe Woodward (RH – .361/.471/.472, 0-10-4.  ’12 – .259 in 27 AB’s) missed a couple of weeks with injuries before returning to the lineup last week.  He has split time between 2B and LF and has started at 2B the last six games while batting second.  Woodward is a sparkplug and would be among the conference leaders in AVG, OBP and SLG if he had enough AB’s to qualify.  He played a big role in the series win against Cal Poly by going 7-13.  Woodward has hit .389 at home with .500 OBP and SLG but has hit a more pedestrian .278 in road games.  He doesn’t walk much with only six BB’s but is among the Big West leaders with nine HBP’s.  Woodward has good speed and has four SB’s.

SS – JR #16 Brandon Trinkwon (LH – .267/.368/.362, 2-19-6.  ’12 – .347/.460/.490, 2-32-7.  ’11 – .253/.318/.329, 1-6-0) platooned at SS as a FR before he missed most of the latter part of the season when a batted ball hit him in the face and fractured several bones.  He became a full-time starter in 2012, splitting time between 2B and SS, and was 2nd team All-Big West after ending up among the conference leaders in AVG, SLG, OBP, BB, R, H, RBI and TB.  Trinkwon has excellent plate discipline and had a 40/24 BB/K ratio in 2012 and is at 17/12 this season.  He was hitting second for a couple of weeks but has settled into the three hole over the last month.  Trinkwon was in a 10-55 slump before finding his hitting stroke against Cal Poly and went 5-10 with three RBI last weekend.  He has struggled in road games, hitting only .196, while hitting .314 at home.   Trinkwon is one of the better SS prospects in this year’s draft class and is projected to be drafted in the first few rounds in June.  He has hit well against Fullerton, going 5-11 with three RBI last season at home and has gone 8-19 in his career against the Titans.

3B – FR #13 Ryan Clark (RH – .250 in 28 AB’s, 0-5-3) only had eight AB’s in the first 25 games before starting the last seven games.  He was moved into the lineup due to a wrist injury to SR #9 Marc Venning (RH – .235 in 34 AB’s.  ’12 – .262/.308/.372, 1-30-3), who split time last season between 1B and 3B, sharing time at 3B with three year starter Ryan Palmero.  Clark hit well last weekend and had two hits in both of the games that UCSB won against Cal Poly and has been hitting ninth.  He has good speed and is a threat to run.

2B/3B – Soph #3 Peter Maris (LH – .182/.288/.303, 2-14-1.  ’12 – .186/.271/.221, 0-3-1) and 2B – JC transfer #31 Parker Miles (RH – .216/.392/.297, 0-5-2) were playing more earlier in the season due to the injuries to Woodward and Venning but with Clark moving into the lineup and Woodward returning from his injuries both of them have been moved to the bench and neither of them started in the last six games.

Outfield

UCSB lost all three outfielders from last season – 1st team All-Big West Brett Vertigan, HM All-Big West Lance Roenicke and Joey Wallace – so it has been tryout time in the outfield with things settling down in CF and RF over the last month of the season.

LF – FR #10 Dalton Kelly (LH – .346 in 26 AB’s, 0-8-0) only had six AB’s over the first 22 games but has moved into the lineup since conference play started two weeks ago with Woodward shifting to 2B and has been a hot hitter with two hits in three different games while hitting in the bottom part of the order.  He is a good athlete with quite a bit of upside.

CF – JC transfer #12 Cameron Newell (LH – .278/.363/.343, 0-12-8) played well in the fall and won a starting job over some highly rated recruits and has helped to ignite the offense while usually hitting leadoff.  He is one of the faster runners on the team and is second in the Big West in SB’s and is also a good bunter who will try to use his speed to beat out bunts and leads the team with five SAC’s.  Newell does a good job of setting the table with a solid 12/16 BB/K ratio and is fourth in the conference in runs.  Unlike most of his teammates, he has hit much better on the road with a .326 AVG and has only hit .242 at home.  Newell has gone 8-24 in the first two conference series.

RF – Soph #26 Luke Swenson (LH – .307/.386/.352, 0-13-6.  ’12 – .198/.280/.222, 0-7-3) was a part-time player in 2012 and has worked his way into a regular role by outplaying some of the other players he was competing with for playing time.  He is a little guy with good speed who doesn’t have much power with most of his extra-base hits coming due to his wheels.  Swenson has good plate discipline with a 10/12 BB/K rate.  He has only gone 3-18 over his last five conference games.

JC transfer #23 Joey Epperson (RH – .250 in 28 AB’s) is the fourth outfielder who occasionally starts against LHP’s because all three OF’s are LH hitters.

DH/P – FR #6 Robby Nesovic (RH – .372/.440/.487, 1-19-0) was rated among the top 100 HS players in CA and recruited mostly as a pitcher who might be given a chance to hit.  He only had three AB’s in the first nine games but once he moved into the lineup, the big man has been a force in the middle of the lineup and would be among the Big West leaders in AVG and SLG if he had more AB’s.  Nesovic is third on the team in RBI despite the limited playing time over the first three weeks of the season.  He has been a monster at home with a .463 average but has only hit .250 on the road.  He has gone 8-22 in the first two conference series and hit his first HR of the season on Tuesday at P’dine.

DH/P – Soph #11 Greg Mahle (LH – .143 in 35 AB’s.  ’12 – .347/.411/.379, 0-35-0) was 2nd team All-Big West and a FR All-American last season in his dual role as a 1B/DH and a closer but has been going through a sophomore slump at the plate and on the mound.  He was the DH earlier in the year, struggled from the start and lost his job to Nesovic and hasn’t made a plate appearance in a month.


Defense

Fielding % – .974 (3/42) with 30 errors.  2012 – .968 (5/109) with 70 errors.  UCSB plays on an uneven playing surface that is known for being difficult for infielders to get true bounces on grounders, which makes how their defense has played until last weekend, when they made six errors, even more impressive.  UCSB has been much better defensively this season after they allowed 53 unearned runs in 2012.  Trinkwon is one of the best shortstops in the country and leads the conference in assists and UCSB leads the Big West in double plays.  Kuresa is solid at 1B and Clark has been solid at 3B.  Woodward and Miles at 2B and Maris at 2B/3B have been shaky and have combined for 13 errors.  All three OF’s have good range, especially Newell and Swenson, without any standout throwing arms.

Stolen Base Attempts – 19-33 (3/xx).  2012 – 38-64 (3/xx).  UCSB played three catchers in 2012 who ranged from decent to below average against the running game but Morrow has been excellent and runners are 15-25 against him and he also has three pickoffs.

WP’s/PB’s Allowed – 22 (2/xx).  2012 – 82 (9/xx).  UCSB’s catchers did a poor job of keeping the ball in front of them in 2012 but their jobs weren’t made easy due to the wildness of the pitching staff.  Morrow has been excellent at blocking pitches.


Pitching

·       ERA – 4.06 (4/127).  4.14 in 2012 (7/).
·       AVG – .265 (3/115).  .256 in 2012 (4/).
·       HR – 12 (9/xx).  14 HR in 2011 (4/xx).
·       Walks – 93 (5/68), 3.2 BB/9 IP.  263 (3rd), 4.7 BB/9 IP in 2012.
·       HBP – 32 (3/xx).  99 in 2012 (1/xx).
·       OBP – .344 (4/xx).  .375 in 2012 (7/xx).
·       SLG – .374 (5/xx).  .348 in 2012 (4/xx).
·       WHIP – 1.38 (5/91).  1.47 in 2012 (7/153).
·       Strikeouts – 195 (5/149), 6.7 K/9 IP.  451 (1/13), 8.1 K/9 IP in 2012.

Starters

UCSB had four pitchers who took turns in the weekend rotation and two of them were SR’s, Kevin Gelinas and Zak Edgington.  The Gauchos thought they would have a good rotation with the other two SP’s returning and moving their closer into the rotation, with one of the pitchers leading the team in wins in 2012 and the other two were FR All-Americans, but things didn’t turn out that way with the two of them pitching their way out of the rotation.

Soph #34 Austin Pettibone (RHP – 4-2, 2.86 ERA, 8 GS, 1 CG, 1 SHO, 57 IP, 58 H, 13 BB, 27 K, .276 BA, 4 HR, 2 HBP, 3 WP, 0-4 SB.  ’12 – 8-3, 4.44 ERA, 1 save, 17 apps, 13 GS, 79 IP, 102 H, 24 BB, 33 K, .331 BA, 4 HR, 6 HBP, 4 WP, 2-7 SB) started in the first eleven series as a FR before being bumped to the bullpen/midweek SP spot for the last month of the season and led the team in wins.  He started on Sat in the opening series at Fresno but has been the Friday starter since then.  Pettibone has usually given UCSB a chance to win with three starts in which he allowed two runs or less, including last week’s start against Cal Poly when he allowed 2 R on 6 H in 8 IP, but has also been able to be hit at times, allowing four runs in three of his starts and six runs in his start at Cal Poly a couple of weeks ago.  He is prone to giving up hits because he has very good control and is usually around the plate but he is not overpowering with an upper 80’s fastball that he sinks to go along with a solid curveball, slider and changeup to get batters to pound the ball into the ground and has only had more than four strikeouts in two of his starts.  Pettibone has been excellent at home, where he is 3-0 with a 0.84 ERA, but has struggled on the road and gone 1-2 with a 5.55 ERA.  He does an outstanding job of holding runners and has only allowed 2-11 SB’s over the last two seasons and did not pitch against Fullerton in 2012.

FR #44 Justin Jacome (LHP – 3-2, 3.67 ERA, 8 GS, 49 IP, 48 H, 11 BB, 36 K, .262 AVG, 0 HR, 5 HBP, 2 WP, 1-3 SB) was the Sunday starter at Fresno but moved into the Saturday spot the next weekend and has been there the past seven weekends.  He has been very consistent in allowing three runs or less in seven of his starts, including allowing two runs in 6 2/3 IP at Texas, three runs in 6 1/3 IP in winning his first start against Cal Poly, three runs in 6 1/3 IP at Hawaii and two runs (one earned) in 8 IP in winning his second start against Cal Poly.  Jacome was ranked among the top 150 HS players in CA and is tall at 6’6” and tough on LH hitters but doesn’t throw hard with a mid 80’s fastball and a good curveball and has very good control.  His stats at home and on the road are similar and he has a 2.51 ERA in his two conference starts.

The Sunday starting spot has been a revolving door for UCSB and they have lost the third game of their last four series.

FR #6 Robby Nesovic (RHP – 0-1, 7.30 ERA, 6 apps, 2 GS, 12 IP, 16 H, 4 BB, 11 K, .314 AVG, 0 HR, 6 HBP, 1 WP, 1-3 SB) was the latest guy to take a shot at the Sunday starter spot when he started last weekend against Cal Poly and he allowed 6 R (2 ER) in 3 1/3 IP after allowing 4 R in 4 IP in the non-conference fourth game at Hawaii so it remains to be seen if he will get another shot this Sunday.  He is a big guy with a good arm with a fastball that touches 90 and throws from a 3/4 arm slot that can make him tough on RH hitters.

FR #36 Kenny Chapman (RHP – 3-0, 4.68 ERA, 9 apps, 3 GS, 25 IP, 21 H, 10 BB, 14 K, .241 AVG, 2 HR, 3 HBP, 2 WP, 3-5 SB) was ranked among the top 100 HS players in CA and verbally committed to Fullerton but ended up going to UCSB as part of their large recruiting class.  He threw seven scoreless innings over three relief appearances and took his shot at the Sunday SP spot at Hawaii and allowed 4 R in 4 2/3 IP with Nesovic replacing him last weekend.  Chapman has a good arm with a fastball that sits around 90 and a good breaking ball.

Soph #25 Andrew Vasquez (LHP – 1-2, 4.70 ERA, 5 apps, 4 GS, 15 IP, 11 H, 16 BB, 16 K, .204 AVG, 1 HR, 5 HBP, 2 WP, 5-6 SB.  ’12 – 6-4, 1.93 ERA, 15 GS, 89 IP, 58 H, 63 BB, 104 K, .190 AVG, 1 HR, 17 HBP, 15 WP, 9-11 SB) was the Friday SP as a FR in 2012 and led the Big West in ERA and was second in strikeouts on his way to earning 2nd team All-Big West and FR All-American honors.  However, he also had major control issues and led the conference in walks and HBP’s and those issues came back this season without the effectiveness to pitch around them.  Vasquez wasn’t able to go longer than 5 1/3 IP in any of his four starts in the first month while averaging a walk per inning and was removed from the rotation and has only made one appearance over the last month, facing two batters in relief at Cal Poly two weeks ago and walking both of them.  He allowed one run on three hits and six walks in 4 1/3 IP in his start against Fullerton in 2012.

Relievers

UCSB primarily had a four man bullpen in 2012 with the closer duties being handled by Mahle and fellow 2nd team All-Big West reliever Matthew Vedo, who led the conference in strikeouts and had a propensity to say stupid things to the media.  Mahle has moved back into the bullpen in middle relief and it has been a kiddie corps with mostly FR getting the ball late in games.

FR #4 Dylan Hecht (RHP – 0-1, 1.86 ERA, 3 saves, 16 apps, 19 IP, 9 H, 4 BB, 25 K, .141 AVG, 0 HR, 1 HBP, 0 WP, 4-4 SB) has taken over as the closer and has been lights out in his last five appearances, striking out ten batters and allowing two hits.  He has a live arm with a fastball that sits in the 92-94 range and a good slider.  Hecht is second in the Big West in appearances.

FR #41 Connor Baits (RHP – 0-0, 4.20 ERA, 1 save, 12 apps, 15 IP, 19 H, 3 BB, 9 K, .311 AVG, 2 HR, 3 HBP, 3 WP, 0-0 SB) is another FR with a live arm who was drafted in the 23rd round out of HS with a fastball that sits in the 92-94 range while pitching in middle relief.  He has good control but when his fastball straightens out he can get hit.  Baits made the midweek start at P’dine and went six innings, allowing three runs on nine hits with no walks and six strikeouts.

Soph #11 Greg Mahle (LHP – 4-4, 4.08 ERA, 1 save, 14 apps, 4 GS, 29 IP, 32 H, 9 BB, 21 K, .288 AVG, 1 HR, 1 HBP, 2 WP, 2-3 SB.  ’12 – 3-4, 3.88 ERA, 21 apps, 3 GS, 5 saves, 46 IP, 40 H, 18 BB, 45 K, .247 AVG, 1 HR, 15 HBP, 3 WP, 3-3 SB) split time as a closer as a FR and ended up being 2nd team All-Big West and a FR All-American who was expected to move into the rotation but wasn’t throwing well going into the season.  He made Sunday starts in the last two weekends before conference play started and allowed 8 R (3 ER) in 1/3 IP against Sac State and 5 R (3 ER) in 3 2/3 IP at Cal Poly and was moved back into the bullpen.  Mahle can be tough on LH hitters because they have trouble picking up the ball coming out of his hand due to his short arm delivery.  He allowed one hit in two innings in two appearances against Fullerton in 2012.

FR #33 Domenic Mazza (LHP – 1-0, 5.27 ERA, 11 apps,14 IP, 14 H, 6 BB, 14 K, .269 AVG, 0 HR, 1 HBP, 0 WP, 1-2 SB) is the other LHP in relief along with Mahle.  He doesn’t throw hard with a low 80’s fastball but has a good curveball and changeup with good command.

SR #22 Jared Wilson  (RHP – 0-0, 4.91 ERA, 12 apps, 15 IP, 19 H, 12 BB, 15 K, .322 AVG, 1 HR, 2 HBP, 4 WP, 2-2 SB.  ’12 – 0-1, 4.63 ERA, 24 apps, 1 save, 35 IP, 34 H, 28 BB, 30 K, .256 AVG, 3 HR, 10 HBP, 3 WP, 3-5 SB) has a solid fastball that sits around 90 and was drafted in the 35th round but came back and was expected to have a bigger role in the bullpen but he has way too wild to be relied on in critical situations.


Outlook

Fullerton has responded to every challenge that they have faced this season and found ways to win even when they haven’t played well.  The Titans haven’t always had consistent hitting but with their patient approach of grinding out at bats, they have still been consistently finding ways to score runs and they have had a killer instinct with six series sweeps in eight weekends.

Fullerton has controlled the series with UCSB over the last eleven years, going 26-7 and winning each of the last five series.  The Titans split the first two games and won the third game handily in each of the last three series played at UCSB and they have swept the Gauchos in four of the last five series that have been played at Goodwin Field.

Fullerton has the potential to score a good amount of runs this weekend with the way that they have started to hit the ball at home and facing a pitching staff that is young and talented but inconsistent.  UCSB also has the potential to score some runs but they haven’t been nearly as potent away from home, an issue they need to resolve if they are going to take the next step forward as a contender in the conference.

Fullerton has had a much better pitching staff than UCSB.  The Titans have lights out control, leading the country in BB/9 IP and WHIP, and are able to use three effective starters as well as several reliable relievers.  The Gauchos have usually gotten solid outings from their first two starters, especially at home, but they haven’t been able to find an effective third starter on Sundays.

UCSB has improved the talent level in their program but they are still going through some growing pains, especially on the road.  It wouldn’t be much of a surprise if the Gauchos were able to win a game in this series but between playing at home, being more experienced, playing at a higher and more consistent level and having a sizeable pitching advantage, this is a series that Fullerton should win.

1 comment:

Rajib Babu said...

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