Cal State Fullerton won for the 16th time in 18 games with a 5-0 win last Tuesday at LMU. Colin O'Connell was outstanding in holding the Lions to only two hits in six innings with four strikeouts and three relievers followed with a scoreless inning each to preserve the shutout. The Titans jumped on LMU early with runs in each of the first three innings and that was the only scoring of the day. Fullerton was led at the plate by three hits from Carlos Lopez as eight of the starters either scored and/or drove in a run in a balanced attack.
Fullerton won the series opener with UCSB in a 3-2 pitchers duel with Noe Ramirez going seven strong innings and allowing only two runs on five hits with seven strikeouts for his Big West leading sixth win. Dylan Floro and Nick Ramirez each threw a perfect inning to shut the door on UCSB. Anthony Trajano and Nick Ramirez each had RBI's in the 3rd inning to give Fullerton a 2-1 lead and Carlos Lopez broke the tie in the 6th inning with an RBI triple. Ivory Thomas had two of Fullerton's five hits in the game and scored once.
The Titans clinched the series with a 5-4 comeback win over the Gauchos on Saturday. UCSB put together a four run rally in the 2nd inning and O'Connell came on in relief and threw 5 1/3 shutout innings, allowing five hits with nine strikeouts. Fullerton cut into UCSB's lead in the bottom of the 2nd on an RBI HBP by Trajano and a SF by Ramirez and took the lead in the 6th inning when a SF by Ivory Thomas tied the game and Trajano's RBI single gave the Titans the lead. The Gauchos were looking to tie the game in the 9th inning when they got a double off of Floro with one out and Nick Ramirez was brought into the game. The next hitter singled to RF but Michael Lorenzen fired off a laser to the plate to nail the runner trying to score. Ramirez retired the next hitter to record his Big West leading ninth save and the win went to O'Connell, who received the Big West pitcher of the week award for his two wins and 11 1/3 scoreless innings during the week. Chad Wallach scored twice in his debut at 3B.
Fullerton saved their best for last in another 5-4 comeback win to finish off the sweep of UCSB. Tyler Pill threw eight strong innings, allowing only five hits and no walks, and tied his career high with 11 strikeouts for the third time this season but his effort nearly went for naught because of some shaky defense behind him that made two of the three runs he allowed unearned. The Titans only scored twice in the first eight innings on RBI's from Trajano and Wallach and trailed 4-2 in the 9th inning with two outs and a runner on first and it looked like the Gauchos were going to get a win in the series. Thomas singled the runner to third and stole second, which allowed Trajano's single up the middle to score both runners and tie the game. Ramirez followed with a walk and Blake Barber won the game with an RBI single, setting off a celebration by the Titans in the middle of the infield. Thomas had two hits and scored two runs while Trajano had three RBI in the game and six in the series.
Fullerton has won six games in a row and 19 of their last 21 games and will be looking to extend their lead in the Big West standings when they play one of the teams that is tied for second at 6-3 in the conference race when the Titans head up the 101 to San Luis Obispo to play the Cal Poly Mustangs.
Cal Poly Mustangs
- Overall Record – 16-16 in 2011; 23-32 in 2010
- Conference Record – 6-3 in 2011 (2nd); 10-14 in 2010 (5th).
- Post-Season – None
- 2011 RPI/ISR – 98/80. 2010 RPI/ISR – 140/78
- Current ranking – None
- Predicted conf finish – 4th by the Big West coaches and Baseball America
2010 Summary and 2011 Preview
Cal Poly (16-16, 6-3) finished 37-21 and in third place in the Big West in 2009 and qualified for a regional for the first time as a D1 program after near misses in 2005 and 2007. The Mustangs expected to make a run at getting back into post-season play in 2010 with an experienced lineup and several starting pitchers returning. However, things did not go as planned in SLO and most of the season was a disaster and Cal Poly did not win any of their first ten weekend series and started the season by winning only ten of their first 37 games. The Mustangs got hot once the calendar turned to May and they went 13-5 the rest of the way, winning four of their last five series to go from the bottom of the conference standings to a tie for 5th.
Cal Poly figured they would ride the wave of momentum they built at the end of last season with an improved pitching staff but knew that they had some key pieces to replace in their offense after losing four players who started at least 35 games and hit over .320. The Mustangs got off to a very slow start when they lost their first six games at USC's tournament (North Carolina, Missouri and USC) and at Oklahoma State and were held to two runs or less in four of the losses and lost four of the games by one run. Cal Poly's fortunes started to change once they started playing at home and they went 8-6 going into Big West play with a sweep of Valparaiso and series splits with LMU (four games), UCLA (two games) and Minnesota (two games) with only two midweek games played on the road during that stretch. The Mustangs allowed 5+ runs in four of their first six losses but allowed three runs or less in half of their next fourteen non-conference games.
Cal Poly's offense was held to four runs or less in half of their 20 non-conference games going into the Riverside series and the Mustangs continued to struggle scoring runs once the Big West season started. Cal Poly won the series with Riverside but scored only eight runs in the series and was shut out in their loss and they lost the series at UCSB when they were held to four runs in each of their losses, including a 13 inning marathon that decided the series. The Mustangs bats finally woke up last week when the schedule eased up when they scored 27 runs in winning all four games against Santa Clara and in their Big West series against Northridge. Cal Poly stretched their winning streak to five games with a come from behind 5-4 win against #12 Fresno State when they scored four runs in the 8th inning on four walks, an error and a single.
Cal Poly traditionally has a very good offense and their offense is what carried them to a regional in 2009 when they hit .325 and were at the top of the Big West in most offensive categories. When the Mustangs were winning only ten games through the end of April in 2010, they were near the bottom of the conference in most categories but their hot streak down the stretch moved them into the top third of the Big West in offensive production.
Cal Poly started out slowly again this season dealing with replacing four productive hitters, injuries and the new BBCOR bats. The Mustangs were last in the Big West in AVG and 7th in scoring and SLG before hitting well last week and moving up a couple of spots in each of those categories. Cal Poly has had an offense that was more power oriented the past couple of years but this season they are relying on trying to get guys on and moving them over, often by bunting and without too much running, and driving them in although that hasn't worked out as well as they would like with a .260 average with runners in scoring position.
Cal Poly has had a law of diminishing returns with their pitching staff since Jerry Weinstein left as the pitching coach after 2006 as the staff ERA has gone up every season with an ERA of 5.90 in 2009 and the staff bottoming out as the worst in the Big West with a 6.75 ERA in 2010. The Mustangs have gotten back a couple of key contributors from previous seasons back after they missed most to all of last season and along with the new BBCOR bats the staff ERA has come tumbling down by over three runs per game to 3.55. Cal Poly has had a standout Friday starter and usually gotten solid starts out of the other two starters to go with a lights out closer and solid relievers to keep them in games most of the time despite the struggles of the offense. The Mustangs staff is in the top 20 nationally in K/9 IP, they have a solid BB/K ratio and teams are hitting under .250 against them.
- Park Factor according to Boyd's World – 92 (decreases offense by 8%). Cal Poly has a bit of a spacious ballpark (335 in the corners, 405 to CF) that plays big with lots of foul territory.
- Batting Average – .266 (5th in the Big West). .304 in 2010 (5th in the Big West).
- Runs Per Game – 4.7 (5th). 7.3 in 2010 (9th).
- Home Runs – 8 (6th). 49 in 2010 (2nd).
- Slugging Percentage – .362 (4th). .472 in 2010 (3rd).
- Walks – 113 (4th), 3.6 per game. 222 in 2010 (1st), 4.0 per game.
- HBP's – 33 (5th). 54 in 2010 (6th).
- Strikeouts – 207 (4th), 6.7 per game. 419 in 2010 (9th), 7.6 per game.
- Stolen Bases – 21-35 (8th). 64-80 in 2010 (3rd).
- Sac Bunts – 44 (3rd). 31 in 2010 (7th).
Cal Poly returned starters at four out of five positions around the infield but some injuries and lineup decisions have resulted in some players being shuffled around.
C – JR #5 Elliot Stewart (RH – .268/.341/.423, 2-10-1; '10 – .245/.292/.378, 3-13-0) missed the first two conference series with an injury but played last week against Northridge and went 4-10 with 4 RBI and hit 7th in all three games. FR #14 Chris Hoo (RH – 5-23) started five games in the first two conf series and had a game winning two run RBI single against Fresno State. JR #12 Jordan Hadlock (RH – 3-26; '10 – .306/.367/.435, 2-16-2) has had a bad season after splitting time with Stewart in 2010 but did have a pinch-hit game winning and series winning RBI double in the 10th inning against Riverside.
1B/3B – SR #20 J.J. Thompson (RH – .343/.377/.444, 1-11-3; '10 – .277/.375/.445, 4-22-3; '09 – .292/.338/.439, 7-41-2) is a versatile player who was the starting 3B in 2009, the starting SS in 2010 and has been starting most of the time at 1B this season but could see time at 3B this weekend and played SS on Tuesday against Fresno State. He has been one of the hottest hitters on the team and has a ten game hitting streak and has had two or more hits in 13 of the last 20 games. Thompson has a big swing and has been in the top ten in the Big West in strikeouts in each of the last three seasons and he also isn't a patient hitter with only six walks. He has been hitting 6th. Thompson had a good series at Fullerton in 2010 when he went 6-11 with an HR and 4 RBI and is 11-34 with 2 HR in his career against the Titans.
FR #24 Tim Wise (RH – 11-35 in 12 games) started the first three weeks of the season, mostly at 1B, but pulled a hamstring and played in only one game over the past six weeks. He returned to the lineup on Tuesday against Fresno State in LF.
2B – Soph #1 Denver Chavez (Both – .294/.402/.368, 0-7-1; '10 – .233 in 73 AB's) was a reserve most of 2010 until he got a chance to get into the lineup in May due to injuries to other infielders. He didn't play much the first couple of weeks but has been playing well since moving into the lineup, although he has cooled off some and is hitting .250 in conf games. Chavez has been batting 2nd and he will almost always look to move runners by bunting because he leads the Big West with 13 SAC's.
JR #8 Matt Jensen (RH – 8-40 in 11 games; '10 – .270/.373/.453, 2-32-3; '09 – .375/.493/.650, 9-53-2) was the Big West FR of the Year in 2009 and 1st team all-conf despite missing the last fifteen games of that season because of a broken collarbone. His bad luck with injuries continued in 2010 when he missed the last month of the season with a knee injury and he missed six weeks with a hand injury this season before returning to the lineup on Tuesday against Fresno State and played 1B. Jensen is a big power threat in the middle of the order when he is healthy. He went 3-12 at Fullerton last season.
SS – JR #2 Mike Miller (RH – .374/.455/.473, 0-18-4; '10 – .160 in 25 AB's) is a good defensive player with good speed but couldn't crack into the lineup in 2010 because of his bat. He has been on fire at the plate this season and leads the Big West in AVG and is second in OBP. Miller is a very good contact hitter and has struck out only six times. He struggled in the Riverside series when he went 1-11 after missing the six previous games with a wrist injury but rebounded to go 9-25 against UCSB and Northridge. Miller has been hitting 3rd.
3B – Soph #11 Evan Busby (Both – .190/.333/.215, 0-6-0; '10 – .286/.413/.401, 2-27-4) has stayed in the lineup due to injuries to Jensen and Wise but could be losing his spot in the lineup due to having a poor season at the plate. He is a patient hitter who was 6th in the Big West in walks in 2010 but he doesn't have much power with only two extra base hits. Busby is a very good bunter and is 5th in the conf with 9 SAC's. He went 2-7 at Fullerton last season.
Cal Poly had four OF's seeing regular playing time in 2010, with one usually at DH, and lost two of them to graduation – Luke Yoder (1st team All-Big West) and Adam Melker (honorable mention All-Big West).
LF – FR #15 Jimmy Allen (RH – .211/.263/.310, 0-9-1) wasn't playing much earlier in the year and struggled when he was moved into the lineup but has hit a little better the last two weeks with seven hits in his last seven games and has been hitting 9th. FR #13 David Armendariz (RH – .164/.179/.291, 1-4-0) was given the first crack in the OF earlier in the year but also struggled to get going before being replaced by Allen. Wise has played a couple of games in LF and started there on Tuesday in his first game back from his hamstring injury and it wouldn't be a surprise to see him in LF this weekend.
CF – JR #23 Bobby Crocker (RH – 344/.438/.475, 2-12-7; '10 – .351/.425/.505, 3-49-18; '09 – .323/.419/.488, 5-24-10) is one of the better athletes on the team and is projected to be drafted in the first ten rounds in June. He has good speed and is the leadoff hitter. Crocker was predicted to be a 1st team All-Big West OF after being honorable mention in 2010, when he split time between CF and RF and was in the top ten in the conf in H, RBI and SB. He is in the top ten in the Big West in AVG, R, H, TB, SLG, HBP, OBP and SB. Crocker had a hit in 15 of his last 17 games and was hitting .403 during that time (27-67) before going 0-5 against Fresno State. He is 6-15 in his career against Fullerton.
RF – Soph #19 Ryan Haniger (RH – .223/.333/.330, 1-14-4; '10 – .326/.386/.539, 7-46-7) was the Big West Freshman of the Year in 2010 and was second on the team in RBI and SLG but has gotten off to a terrible start this season and is stuck in a sophomore slump. He has been batting in the middle of the lineup despite struggling and has hit 5th most of the time recently and hit a little better last week when he went 6-17 in four games. Haniger is a patient hitter and is 7th in the Big West in walks. He was dealing with a back injury during the Fullerton series last season and had only one AB (0-1).
DH – SR #31 D.J. Gentile (RH – .279/.396/.369, 1-21-0; '10 – .184 in 49 AB's; '09 – 304/.386/.459, 5-41-0) had a solid Soph season in 2009 but got off to a bad start last season and never got going. He has been in the lineup every day and usually batting cleanup and leads the team in RBI. Gentile is a patient hitter and leads the team in walks but has a big swing and also leads the team in strikeouts. Like most of the team, he didn't hit well against Riverside and UCSB but was hot last week when he went 7-16 with 4 RBI in four games and had a seven game hitting streak snapped against Fresno State. Gentile is 1-14 in his career against Fullerton.
Fielding % – .965 (8th) with 40 errors. 2010 – .965 (8th) with 75 errors.
Stolen Base Attempts – 31-41 (4th). 2010 – 50-74 (5th).
Cal Poly has been below average at slowing down the running game. Runners are 20-24 against Stewart so look for Fullerton to run often to try to create some offense.
WP's/PB's Allowed – 22 (2nd). 2010 – 69 (8th).
Cal Poly has been much improved at blocking pitches after being bad in that area last season.
- ERA – 3.55 (5th in the Big West). 6.75 in 2010 (4th in the Big West).
- BA – .247 (3rd). .317 in 2010 (5th).
- Walks – 93 (4th), 3.1 BB/9 IP. 227 (8th), 4.2 BB/9 IP in 2010.
- Strikeouts – 264 (3rd), 8.8 K/9 IP. 338 (4th), 6.2 K/9 IP in 2010.
- Extra Base Hits – 66 (5th), 2.1 per game. 209 (9th), 3.8 per game in 2010.
- HR – 8 (5th). 45 HR in 2010 (5th).
Except for their lost weekend in the south when they went 0-4, Fullerton has played well on the road this season and gone 12-2 in the rest of their games away from Goodwin Field, which includes a series win at TCU and sweeps of Hawaii (4 games) and UC Davis so the Titans shouldn't have too many issues with playing a series on the road for the first time in three weeks. Cal Poly is only 3-10 away from home but the Mustangs have played much better at Baggett Stadium, where they are 13-6, and they are looking forward to this series to show that they will be a factor in the Big West race.
Cal Poly's offense has struggled most of the season but they have hit better in the last week or so. Fullerton's offense has been inconsistent and they relied on timely hitting and bunching their hits together to score runs last weekend. Runs figure to be at a premium this weekend with the way that these teams have been hitting. The key thing to watch with Cal Poly is how they hit with runners on base, which has been a problem all season. The key thing to watch with Fullerton is how they are able to execute their small ball offense, especially the running game.
Fullerton's starting pitching has some questions with Noe Ramirez questionable this weekend and Jake Floethe not throwing well in his last two starts. The Titans are going to need some starting pitchers to step up if Ramirez can't pitch. Cal Poly will likely have an advantage with Radeke throwing in the first game and they have been getting solid work out of their other two starters, who have combined for a 3.00 ERA in their six conference starts.
Fullerton hasn't been phased by losing the first game of a series and coming back to win the series, which they have done twice against TCU and UC Irvine. It is very likely that if Cal Poly is going to have any chance to win the series that they must win with the opening game with Radeke on the mound. If Fullerton doesn't let Cal Poly build too much momentum in the series and sticks with their game plan of getting good pitching and scratching out enough runs, the Titans should be able to come out of SLO with a hard fought series win by winning two out of three games.