Baseball Preview: Pacific

Cal State Fullerton hit a bump in the road last weekend on their trip up the 101 to SLO as the Titans lost two out of three games in their series with Cal Poly for their first Big West series loss since 2009 and followed that up with midweek loss at San Diego on Tuesday.

Cal State Fullerton had only lost twice in their previous 21 games before losing three of last four games as injuries have taken their toll on the team

Fullerton had to start the series with Cal Poly without Noe Ramirez to go up against Mustangs ace Mason Radeke   The already short-handed Titans were without Michael Lorenzen and Joe Terry and lost Richy Pedroza to another injury early in the series opener   Radeke threw a complete game and scattered 10 hits to lead the Cal Poly to a 7-2 win   Tyler Pill and Anthony Trajano drove in the Titans runs and Pill and Jared Deacon led Fullerton with two hits

Cal Poly clinched the series victory over Fullerton with a 4-2 win with Steven Fischback throwing a complete game and allowing only five hits and he received Big West pitcher of the week honors for his efforts as the Mustangs tied the Titans at the top of the Big West standings   Colin O'Connell matched Fischback pitch for pitch over the first six innings and the game was tied 1-1 going into the bottom of the 7th when the Mustangs got the first two runners on base off of O'Connell and ended up scoring three runs against the Titans bullpen   Five different players had hits for Fullerton and Trajano had the only RBI for the Titans

Fullerton salvaged the final game of the series with Cal Poly by battering the first three pitchers that they saw on their way to a 9-3 win to retake sole possession of first place in the Big West   Nick Ramirez had two HR's and four RBI to take over the Big West lead in both of those categories, Casey Watkins had three hits and Ramirez, Trajano, Pill and Carlos Lopez each had two hits as the Titans piled up fifteen hits on the day   Fullerton was led on the hill by Pill, who improved his record to 5-0 with seven strong innings, allowing only one run on three hits

Fullerton went down to San Diego for their fourth straight road game on Tuesday and came away with a 12-8 loss in which all six pitchers who saw time on mound struggled to get hitters out and the defense made three errors and had a couple of more plays that were questionably not ruled errors   The Titans were led at the plate by Carlos Lopez, who had four hits and three RBI, and Pill, Ramirez and Ivory Thomas each scored two runs

Fullerton is looking to bounce back from a rough week by getting healthy at home as the Pacific Tigers pay a visit to Goodwin Field this weekend

Pacific Tigers  

  • Overall Record – 13-23 in 2011; 31-23 in 2010
  • Conference Record – 5-7 in 2011 (7th); 12-12 in 2010 (4th)    
  • Post-Season – None
  • 2011 RPI/ISR – 167/140   2010 RPI/ISR – 120/53
  • Current ranking – None
  • Predicted conference finish – 7th by the Big West coaches and 8th Baseball America

 

2010 Summary and 2011 Preview

Pacific was building towards success in 2010 after they went 21-32, 9-15 in 2009, which was a positive season for the Tigers considering they only won 30 games overall and 8 conference games in 2007-2008, and brought back most of their roster   Pacific started out 2010 by winning nine of their first ten weekend series and they were trying to position themselves to make a run at the Big West title when Fullerton visited Stockton the first weekend of May   The Titans won the first two games of the series and Pacific struggled down the stretch in May, losing seven of their last nine games to go from contending for second in the conference to finishing in 4th, which was still the best conference finish for the Tigers since entering the Big West for baseball in 1985

Pacific thought they might struggle out of the gate in 2011 after losing so many key contributors from last season but it wasn't expected that they would play as poorly as they did early   The Tigers only won one game in their first four weekends (0-3 vs Kansas State, 1-2 at Coastal Carolina's tournament, 0-3 vs Gonzaga and 0-3 at Nevada) before starting to play better when they won a series at USC   Pacific picked up a win in each of their next four series vs USF, Long Beach, at Riverside and vs Irvine but didn't get their second series win of the season until they won the series deciding game last Saturday at Northridge   The Tigers started the season 3-12 but have gone 10-11 since then

Pacific didn't expect to hit as well as they did the previous two seasons with so many new starters in the lineup and using the new BBCOR bats but they got off to a very sluggish start at the plate and were held to four runs or less in eight of their first ten and 15 of their first 23 games   The light bulb started to go on for the hitters in the final game of the Long Beach series and since then the Tigers have been red hot at the plate   Pacific has the best average in Big West games at 331 and have hit a scorching 359 over their last ten conference games and have scored 6+ runs in seven of their last twelve games   The Tigers have surged to 2nd overall in the conf in AVG and SLG after being only 5th and 7th in those categories going into the Northridge series, when the hitters pounded the Matador pitching staff for 54 hits in three games   Pacific isn't patient at the plate, averaging around three walks per game, and is aggressive early in counts   They have good contact hitters at the top of their lineup and big swingers in the middle of the order   The Tigers don't play much little ball with most of their lineup with one batter accounting for almost half of their SAC bunts and two players accounting for 22 of their 36 SB's

Pacific expected to have a solid pitching staff due to returning two SP's and one of their best relievers from a group that helped shave almost a run per game off of the team ERA in 2010, improving from 6 36 in 2009 to 5 39   What has transpired has most of the time has been ugly   One of the returning SP's has pitched well until his last two starts, the other one had pitched very poorly until recently and the Tigers have had no answers in the third SP spot   Pacific has tried fifteen different relievers and seven different SP's and except for solid work from their closer most of them have been very ineffective and the Tigers are last in the Big West in almost every pitching category, including a 6 18 team ERA and they are allowing batters to hit 332   Pacific's pitchers were solid in walking about three batters per 9 IP and had close to a 2/1 K/BB ratio in 2010 but this year they are walking almost 4 1/2 batters per 9 IP and have almost a 1/1 K/BB ratio   The Tigers don't have too many hard throwers and rely on keeping the ball down and pitching to contact to get ground ball outs

 

Offense

  • Park Factor according to Boyd's World – 110 (increases offense by 10%)   Dimensions of 317 to LF with a 20 ft high wall, 380 to left center, 395 to CF, 365 to right center and 325 to RF make this one of the smaller fields in the Big West
  • Batting Average – 283 (2nd in the Big West)   325 in 2010 (2nd in the Big West)
  • Runs Per Game – 4 7 (6th)   6 6 in 2010 (6th)
  • Home Runs – 10 (4th)   35 in 2010 (7th)  
  • Slugging Percentage – 374 (2nd)   452 in 2010 (5th)
  • Walks – 102 (6th), 2 9 per game   180 in 2010 (7th), 3 3 per game
  • HBP's – 20 (9th)   34 in 2010 (9th)
  • Strikeouts – 248 (3rd), 7 1 per game   320 in 2010 (5th), 5 8 per game
  • Stolen Bases – 36-51 (3rd)   47-64 in 2010 (6th)  
  • Sac Bunts – 27 (7th)   42 in 2010 (4th)

 

Infield

Pacific had the most experienced infield in the Big West in 2010 with five veterans who started for at least two years and four of them earned All-Big West honors at least once during their careers   Personnel losses due to the draft and graduation were heavy and only one starter returns

C – FR #15 Jason Taasaas (RH – 233/ 370/ 326 in 43 AB's, 1 HR), JC transfer #19 Aaron Hassel ( 162 in 37 AB's) and JR #5 Jacob Sylvester ( 143 in 21 AB's) have been splitting up time behind the plate with the tough task of replacing four year starter Joe Oliveira with Taasaas and Hassel getting most of the playing time   The catchers had combined to go 7-34 with one RBI in the first eleven conf games before Taasaas exploded at Northridge last Sat when he went 5-6 with a HR and 4 RBI   Whoever is starting will most likely be hitting 8th

1B – SR #32 Brian Martin (LH – 360/ 434/ 432, 2-20-2; '10 – 364/ 432/ 439, 0-38-0; ‘09 – 333/ 409/ 484, 3-31-0) is the only returning starter in the infield and has been red hot lately and usually hits cleanup   He started out 8-43 but has hit 438 since then, including 500 in Big West games, and has been a big reason why Pacific's offense has improved since struggling earlier   Martin leads the Big West in AVG and is among the conf leaders in H, TB, BB and OBP and was in the top ten in the Big West in 2010 in AVG, H and OBP   He does not have much power but does an excellent job making contact (17/18 BB/K ratio) and spraying the ball around the field   Martin went 9-14 to scorch Northridge's pitching, the second time in three weeks he went 9-14 after doing that at Riverside   He is three hits shy of moving into second place and two RBI away from moving into sixth on the career lists in those categories   Martin was 2-13 against Fullerton last season and is 7-34 against the Titans in his career

2B – Soph #9 Tyger Pederson (LH – 373/ 442/ 373, 0-10-2) sat out last season as a D3 transfer who hit 471 at Redlands in 2009   He only had a couple of starts going into the Big West season but once he got his chance he hit the ground running   Pederson has been the leadoff hitter the last four weeks and has very little power and doesn't have an extra-base hit in 67 AB's   He went 6-14 with four runs at Northridge as a catalyst in their series win

SS – JR #8 Josh Simms (RH – 253/ 316/ 299, 0-5-2; '10 – 333 in 24 AB's) barely played in 2010 but has done a solid job of taking over for two year starter Ben Gorang   Simms is a good bunter, which is why he was hitting 2nd earlier in the year to help move runners along, but is a better fit batting 9th in the lineup   He doesn't have much power with only three extra-base hits and has struck out about 25% of the time   Simms has a ten game hit streak going

3B – Soph #10 Dustin Torchio (Both – 328/ 378/ 385, 0-11-2; '10 – 222 in 27 AB's) has had the unenviable task of trying to take over for two players who were 2nd team All-Big West in 2010   He started the year at 2B replacing J.B. Brown but was moved over to 3B at the start of Big West play, a spot that was vacated by three year starter Mike Walker   Torchio was hitting all over the lineup during non-conf games but has settled into the 2nd spot in the order and has been scorching the ball and is hitting 500 in Big West games   He does not have much power with only seven extra-base hits   Torchio is an outstanding bunter and is 2nd in the conf with 12 SAC's

 

Outfield

Pacific has one starter back in the outfield in CF along with two other outfielders who split time in the corner OF spots

LF – SR #24 Matthew Carvutto (RH – 359/ 428/ 486, 2-20-2; '10 - 303/ 352/ 374, 0-17-0) had a solid year as a part-time LF in 2010 but has really taken off this year and is 2nd in the Big West in AVG and leads the conf with 16 doubles   He is also among the conf leaders in R, H, RBI, TB, SLG and OBP   Carvutto doesn't walk much but he also doesn't strike out much (12/16 BB/K ratio) and is a line drive hitting machine   He has been hitting 3rd most of the time   Carvutto has been a clutch hitter and is hitting over 400 both with runners on base and with runners in scoring position   He has also been seeing some time in CF and on Sunday's has been the DH so can be available out of the bullpen

LF/DH – JC transfer #27 Daniel Johnston (RH – 272/ 311/ 464, 4-21-9) is a good athlete who has the best power/speed combo on the team   He is 2nd in the Big West in HR and is among the leaders in the conf in 2B, SLG and SB   Johnson is a big man with a big swing and he leads the Big West with 37 strikeouts   He has been hitting 6th most of the time   Johnston was starting at 3B the first month of the season but has settled into a LF/DH type of time share with Carvutto

DH – Soph #20 John Haberman (LH – 291/ 328/ 364, 0-6-0; '10 – 321/ 359/ 404, 0-30-0) was one of the contenders for Big West FR of the year in 2010 after hitting in the mid to high 300's most of the season before tailing off badly in May   He was the regular DH earlier in the year but lost his spot in the lineup as a result of the shuffling that took place right before conf games started and has only started four times in Big West games

CF – JR #11 Brett Christopher (Both – 231/ 291/ 284, 0-9-13; '10 – 312/ 352/ 374, 5-39-8) was a catalyst at the top of the lineup in 2010 with good speed and some pop in his bat but was another player who scuffled during Pacific's slump in May   He has good speed and is 2nd in the Big West in SB's and is a very good bunter (led the conf in SAC's in 2010)   Christopher takes a big cut when he swings and he is 2nd in the conf with 36 K's   He has not been hitting well this season and after being the leadoff hitter for most of the non-conf schedule he was moved down to 7th in the lineup   Christopher had a good series against Fullerton in 2010 when he went 5-12 with 3 RBI

RF – JR #23 Allen Riley (Both – 282/ 318/ 430, 2-27-1; '10 – 237 in 59 AB's) was a backup in the corner OF spots in 2010 but has taken advantage of his opportunity to get playing time this season and is 3rd in the Big West in RBI and among the conf leaders in TB and 2B   Riley has a bad BB/K ratio (9/27) but when he gets the bat on the ball he is usually able to drive it   He has been hitting 5th

 

Defense

Fielding % – 969 (5th) with 42 errors   2010 – 971 (3rd) with 61 errors   

Pacific's defense isn't quite as good as it was last year but they are second in the Big West in DP's   Martin hasn't played as well at 1B as he can, Pederson is average at 2B, Simms is solid at SS and Torchio is good at 3B   Carvutto and Christopher are good outfielders, Riley is average

Stolen Base Attempts – 46-65 (8th)   2010 – 40-65 (2nd)  

Pacific has struggled against the running game while breaking in new catchers   Fullerton should attempt to take advantage of that, something they didn't do against Cal Poly last weekend

WP's/PB's Allowed – 50 (8th)   2010 – 36 (2nd)  

Pacific has also struggled with blocking pitches   Watch for Fullerton to be more aggressive on pitches in the dirt this weekend

 

Pitching

  • ERA – 6 18 (9th in the Big West)   5 39 in 2010 (5th in the Big West)
  • BA – 332 (9th)   312 in 2010 (7th)
  • Walks – 153 (9th), 4 4 BB/9 IP   169 (6th), 3 0 BB/9 IP in 2010
  • Strikeouts – 170 (9th), 4 9 K/9 IP   303 (8th), 5 7 K/9 IP in 2010
  • Extra Base Hits – 113 (9th), 3 2 per game   190 (7th), 3 5 per game in 2010
  • HR – 19 (8th)   45 HR in 2010 (5th)

Starters

Pacific returned their two best starters from 2010 and thought they would be able to rely on them to help the team get some good pitching while the offense gelled but the rotation has been a major problem

FRI – JC transfer #16 Brent McMinn (RHP – 1-2, 6 91 ERA, 4 apps, 3 GS, 14 IP, 20 H, 7 BB, 10 K, 339 BA, 1 HR, 2 HBP, 3 WP, 4-5 SB) is the most likely pitcher to get the ball   Pacific has been using Friday's as a staff day since early in the season due to their inability to find a third SP and the results have been ugly   The Tigers have given up 57 runs in the opening game of their four Big West series and are 0-10 in the first game of a series this season   McMinn was hit hard at Northridge (4 2/3 IP, 7 R, 10 H, 3 BB, 3 K) and vs Irvine (5 IP, 5 R, 5 H, 4 BB, 3 K)

SAT – SR  #22 Marcus Pointer (RHP – 3-5, 6 20 ERA, 12 GS, 2 CG, 65 IP, 90 H, 35 BB, 38 K, 346 BA, 1 HR, 5 HBP, 3 WP, 6-12 SB; '10 – 7-5, 4 58 ERA, 15 GS, 106 IP,105 H, 45 BB, 65 K, 265 BA, 9 HR, 7 HBP, 3 WP, 10-12 SB) was one of the better SP's in the Big West during the non-conf part of the schedule in 2010 when he won his first five starts and had an ERA around 2   He scuffled some during the conf schedule but ended up putting together a solid year and was among the Big West leaders in W, IP and AVG   He was expected to be the Friday SP again this season but was moved out of that role after two poor starts at the beginning of this season and he only had one good start in his first eight outings (at USC – 6 IP, 2 R, 1 ER, 5 H, 3 BB, 2 K) and bottomed out in his start at Riverside (2 1/3 IP, 10 R, 10 H, 5 BB, 2 K)   Pointer has bounced back to pitch well in his last three starts – a three inning scoreless midweek start at Stanford followed by solid starts against Irvine when he got Pacific's only win of that series (7 IP, 4 R, 3 ER, 9 H, 1 BB, 3 K) and at Northridge when he took a shutout into the 9th inning (8+ IP, 2 R, 6 H, 5 BB, 4 K)   He throws a fastball in the mid-80s, a changeup that he throws at any point in the count, a curveball to keep hitters off-balance and a slider as an out pitch against RH hitters   Pointer has been doing a better job of holding runners this season and has picked off three runners   He allowed 6 R on 11 H in 7 IP in his start against Fullerton in 2010

SUN – SR #36 Jake Hummel (RHP – 4-3, 4 36 ERA, 10 GS, 2 CG, 66 IP, 88 H, 17 BB, 51 K, 319 BA, 5 HR, 7 HBP, 6 WP, 3-4 SB; 10 – 7-4, 4 65 ERA, 3 saves, 22 apps, 13 GS, 93 IP, 111 H, 25 BB, 57 K, 299 BA, 7 HR, 6 HBP, 6 WP, 4-13 SB) started out 2010 as the closer and was moved into the rotation a few weeks into the season and put together a solid year and finished tied for 9th in the Big West in wins   He was easily Pacific's most effective SP for most of this season until scuffling recently   Hummel allowed 2 ER or less in five of his six starts before Big West play, including a CG SHO against USF, and kept Pacific in the game vs Long Beach in the only game they won in that series (ND – 8 IP, 4 R, 10 H, 1 BB, 5 K) and got their only win at Riverside (5 1/3 IP, 2 R, 9 H, 3 BB, 6 K) but struggled vs Irvine (6 1/3 IP, 9 R, 14 H, 3 BB, 7 K) and at Northridge (2 1/3 IP, 7 R, 9 H, 1 BB, 2 K)   He has a mid-upper 80's fastball and a solid curveball but his outpitch is his slider   Hummel does a good job of keeping runners close so he is tough to run on   He allowed 9 R (7 ER) on 13 H in 5 1/3 IP in his start against Fullerton in 2010
 
 
Relievers
 
Pacific doesn't have much pitching depth and it has often been an adventure when they have gone to the bullpen other than when they bring in their closer

Closer – JC transfer #28 Chris Larsen (RHP – 0-1, 3 82 ERA, 4 saves, 12 apps, 31 IP, 32 H, 3 BB, 9 K, 267 BA, 3 HR, 5 HBP, 3 WP, 3-4 SB) has taken over for 1st team All-Big West closer Hunter Carnevale and has usually been effective   He is not a hard thrower and relies on pinpoint control and keeping the ball down to get hitters out   Larsen is able to pitch several innings like he did in saves against Irvine (2 scoreless innings) and Riverside (3 1/3 IP, 1 R, 3 H, 0 BB, 2 K)
 

SR #24 Matthew Carvutto (RHP – 2-0, 1 83 ERA, 8 apps, 2 saves, 20 IP, 24 H, 7 BB, 5 K, 289 BA, 1 HR, 2 HBP, 1 WP, 4-4 SB) will usually be available out of the bullpen only on Sundays as the DH after playing in LF in the first two games of a series   He is a battler and has been throwing well   Carvutto threw three scoreless innings to pick up the win in the series deciding game at Northridge

JC transfer #35 Jared Wagner (RHP – 0-3, 6 08 ERA, 15 apps, 2 GS, 27 IP, 38 H, 22 BB, 14 K, 339 BA, 0 HR, 4 HBP, 4 WP, 9-11 SB) has appeared in the most games among the relievers and would be one of the most likely pitchers to come into the game in the middle innings

SR  #25 Robbie Richardson (RHP – 1-2, 9 00 ERA, 13 apps, 16 IP, 28 H, 9 BB, 9 K, 392 BA; '10 – 1-2, 3 26 ERA, 3 saves, 23 apps, 39 IP, 48 H, 11 BB, 17 K, 320 BA, 3 HR, 0 HBP, 0 WP, 0-3 SB) was very effective in 2010 and was expected to be one of the mainstays in the bullpen but has had a terrible season due to not having good command after having good control last season

FR #17 Kyle Crawford (LHP – 1-2, 10 20 ERA, 11 apps, 3 GS, 15 IP, 23 H, 6 BB, 5 K) and FR #41 Andrew Wild (LHP – 0-1, 6 52 ERA, 8 apps, 10 IP, 14 H, 10 BB, 1 K) would be the two most likely LHP's to come into the game
 

Outlook

Fullerton enters this series feeling like they should play the theme from M*A*S*H as they take the field with as many players as the Titans have banged up   They won't get any sympathy from a hot hitting Pacific team that would like nothing better than to get their second straight series win and their second straight series win at Goodwin Field after the Tigers won a series against Fullerton in 2009 for the first time ever

Pacific enters the series as a better hitting team so Fullerton will have to be careful not to let the Tigers bash away and hit line drives all over the ballpark   The more offensive that this series gets, the better the chances are for Pacific to pull off an upset   The Titans will be without Noe Ramirez once again this weekend so some of the other pitchers are going to have to step up

Fullerton goes into this series with a significant pitching advantage with a staff ERA about four runs better than Pacific's   Despite not having Ramirez on the mound, the Titans should win opening game in what looks like it could end up being a much higher scoring game than most Friday games are   Pacific's pitchers on Saturday and Sunday have been hit and miss but are more than capable of putting together solid outings while Pill and O'Connell have both been throwing well for Fullerton

This is a series without question that Fullerton should win, even though Pacific is playing much better over the last five weeks than they were earlier in the season   The Titans would like to sweep this series to make sure that they are still in sole possession of first place going into their series at Riverside next weekend but with as banged up as the team is, it looks like they will have their hands full and will probably end up winning two out of three games