Baseball Preview: Texas A&M

Cal State Fullerton started the season with two of the tougher series that anybody played in the opening two weekends with a series at #1 Florida followed by a series at home against then #15 TCU and held their own in splitting the first six games. The Titans followed up those series with five games last week against unranked opponents and won all five of them.

Fullerton got the week started with two midweek games at Goodwin Field and defeated San Diego State 3-0 on Tuesday and LMU 6-2 on Wednesday as the Titans won their third and fourth games in a row to improve to 5-3.  The middle relievers who had often struggled for Fullerton in the early part of the season were outstanding as they held San Diego State to only three hits and struck out ten batters and followed that up by allowing only two runs on six hits to LMU. 

Dave Birosak started against San Diego State, throwing one inning, and was followed by Dimitri DeLaFuente (3 IP), Tyler Peitzmeier (2 1/3 IP) and Willie Kuhl (2 1/3 IP) and Michael Lorenzen came in to get the final out for his third save after the Aztecs got runners to second and third with two outs.  Lorenzen led off the first with a single and was driven in by J.D. Davis with a two out single to give Fullerton a lead they would never give up.  The Titans scored their second run in the fifth inning when Austin Kingsolver started the inning with a bunt single and Lorenzen drove him with an RBI single.  Fullerton scored the final run of the game when Carlos Lopez led off the sixth inning with a single and was driven in by freshman Matt Chapman on an RBI single, his first hit as a Titan.  Lorenzen led the offense with three hits along with a run and an RBI.

LMU took a 2-1 lead into the bottom of the seventh and the Titans tied the game when Kingsolver bunted for a hit, was balked to second, moved to third on a single by Matt Orloff for his third hit of the game and scored on another balk.  Fullerton broke open the game in the eighth with four runs as they once again took advantage of some shaky defense by the Lions.  Richy Pedroza singled, Chapman was hit by a pitch, Kingsolver walked, Orloff hit a squibber that the pitcher threw away to score a run, Keegan Dale beat out a bunt that scored another run, Lorenzen drove in a run on a groundout to SS and Hutting drove in the final run of the inning with another bunt single.  Koby Gauna started for the Titans and threw five solid innings, allowing one run on four hits, Christian Coronado gave up one run in 3 1/3 innings to pick up the win and Lorenzen finished things off by getting the final two outs.

Fullerton increased their winning streak to seven games as they finished up the home stand with a sweep of Utah Valley by the scores of 6-1, 2-0 and 11-3 as the pitching was outstanding once again in allowing only six runs in five games.  Kuhl, Peitzmeier, DeLaFuente and Coronado combined to throw 16 innings during the week and allowed only one run.

Friday's game was scoreless until Utah Valley scored in the top of the fourth and Fullerton tied the game in the bottom of the inning on a double by Ivory Thomas and a single by Casey Watkins.  The Titans took the lead for good in the fifth on a walk by Pedroza, a single by Lopez and RBI singles by Thomas and Watkins.  Fullerton put the game away with three runs in the seventh on a walk by Anthony Hutting, a single by Thomas, an RBI single by Dale, a double steal and a two run single by Orloff.  Dylan Floro had his third straight strong start to pick up his first win of the season and allowed one run on five hits in eight innings.

Fullerton got off to a fast start in Saturday's game with Lorenzen leading off the bottom of the first with a triple and Pedroza hit a SF to give the Titans the lead.  That would be the only run that Adam Gunn would allow in 6+ innings and Fullerton wouldn't score again until the bottom of the seventh, squandering a couple of opportunities along the way, when Lorenzen got on base on an error, stole second and Pedroza doubled him in to finish off the scoring.  Kenny Mathews had a no-hitter for the first 4 2/3 innings and the only other hit he allowed was a single to lead off the seventh.  Kuhl allowed a BB and a single but left the bases loaded and allowed another BB and a single in the eighth before Peitzmeier put out the fire to strand those runners and Lorenzen finished things off with a scoreless ninth for his fourth save to wrap up Mathews' first career win.

The defense was sloppy in Saturday's game with each team making three errors and the defense was poor again on Sunday with the teams combining to make five more errors.  Utah Valley scored two unearned runs to take a 2-1 lead into the bottom of the fifth when Fullerton tied the game when a Lorenzen SAC bunt with two runners on was thrown away and took the lead on a double play.  The Titans broke the game open with a five run sixth inning with RBI singles by Dale and Chapman, a SF by Kingsolver, an RBI triple by Orloff and an RBI double by Lopez.  Fullerton piled onto the lead in the seventh with an RBI single by Austin Diemer and a pinch-hit two RBI single by Greg Velasquez.  J.D. Davis threw five innings and scattered seven hits while allowing two unearned runs to pick up his first win.  Lopez had three hits and two RBI, Chapman scored three runs and four hitters had two hits in the fourteen hit barrage.  The leading hitters for the week were Orloff (7-10), Lorenzen (6-16), Lopez (6-19) and Dale (5-12).

Fullerton played their first game away from Goodwin Field since the Florida series when they traveled up to USC on Tuesday night and saw their seven game winning streak snapped in a 7-4 loss.  The game was scoreless until the fifth inning when the Titans scored four runs on an RBI groundout by Velasquez, an RBI single by Lorenzen and a two run triple by Pedroza.  It looked like Gauna might make that lead stand up as he took a shutout into the bottom of the sixth before the Trojans scored two runs off of him and Peitzmeier and scored five runs off of Peitzmeier and Kuhl in the bottom of the seventh to take the lead for good.  Fullerton only had five hits in the game with four of them coming in the four run fifth as the Titans struggled at the plate most of the night.

Fullerton makes their second lengthy road trip of the season to play a top ten team when they pay a visit to another team that played in the College World Series last season.  The Texas A&M Aggies have lived up to their ranking thus far by winning twelve of their first thirteen games and look like they will be a strong challenger to return to Omaha.  This will be third trip for the Titans to College Station in the last four years after they made midweek visits in 2009 and 2011 during trips to the south for series at Southern Mississippi and LSU and the Aggies will be returning the visit to Fullerton next season.

Texas A&M Aggies

  • Current Record 12-1
  • Overall Record in 2011 – 47-22
  • Conference Record – 19-8 (Tied 1st – regular season); Won Big XII Tournament
  • Post-Season – Won College Station Regional (Win vs. Wright State, 2-1 vs. Arizona), Won Super Regional at Florida State 2-1, 0-2 at College World Series (Losses to South Carolina and California.   
  • 2011 RPI/ISR – 9/13
  • Current and Pre-season rankings  – 5th/6th by Collegiate Baseball, 5th/6th by USA Today/Coaches Poll, 5th/5th by NCBWA, 6th/7th by Baseball America and 5th/6th by Perfect Game
  • Predicted conference finish – 1st by the Big XII coaches, Baseball America, Perfect Game and Easton College Baseball today

2011 Summary and 2012 Preview

Texas A&M has traditionally been one of the better programs in the middle of the country that isn't named Texas but in the middle of the decade their program bottomed out.  The Aggies finished next to last in the Big XII in 2005 and finished in last place in Rob Childress' first season in College Station but they righted the ship in a hurry and went to a Super Regional in 2007, won the Big XII and went to a Super Regional in 2008, went to regionals in 2009 and 2010 and won the Big XII and went to the College World Series in 2011 in their first trip to Omaha since 1999.  Texas A&M was ranked in all of the pre-season polls last season (mostly in the teens) and lived up those expectations, rolling through their schedule with only one series loss prior to losing the last series of the season to Texas, winning all four games in the Big XII tournament, winning the regional they hosted and winning their Super Regional at Florida State before being eliminated after losing their first two games in Omaha.  

Texas A&M has higher expectations this season after being ranked in the top ten in every major pre-season poll because they return their four best hitters and two of their outstanding starting pitchers who were a major reason why they went to Omaha last season.  The Aggies have gotten off to a fast start by winning 12 of their first 13 games as part of a twenty game home stand in refurbished Olsen Field at Blue Bell Park, which has been turned into a baseball palace after a $24 million remodeling.  Texas A&M started the season by sweeping Illinois-Chicago by a combined score of 26-2, won a midweek game with Stephen F. Austin, got a tougher series than they expected from Holy Cross by winning two of three (with one of the wins by one run), won a two game midweek series against Northwestern State, coming back from a 10-1 deficit in the first game, and swept Michigan State last weekend before winning their midweek game with Prairie View A&M.

Texas A&M had a solid offense in 2011 and they weren't affected as much by the change to BBCOR bats as many teams around the country were.  The Aggies HR total did go down from 67 in 2010 to 30 last season but their run production improved due to their offensive philosophy.  Texas A&M is very aggressive and will look to move runners and take the extra base every chance they get.  The Aggies have been in the top twenty with over 100 SB's the last two seasons and they will also bunt often to take advantage of their speed and have had over 60 SAC's in each of the last two years.  As part of their aggressive philosophy, the Aggies will also go to the plate hacking away and swing at lots of pitches because they led the Big XII in strikeouts in 2011.

Texas A&M usually has a strong pitching staff because their head coach is one of the better pitching coaches in the country and last year was no exception.  The Aggies returned three of their better pitchers from 2010 and all three of them had outstanding seasons in the weekend rotation by combining to go 28-8 with a 2.13 ERA and they also had a deep bullpen with six pitchers logging at least thirty innings and they had a team ERA under three.

Texas A&M is averaging seven runs per game and they have scored at least seven runs nine times.  The Aggies have only hit three HR's so long ball power once again isn't part of their game for the most part but they have used their speed to hit 21 doubles and four triples and are off and running again this year with 40 steals in their first 13 games with seven players already having at least four steals.  They are being much more patient at the plate thus far and are averaging about six free bases per game on walks and HBP's.

Texas A&M has had a couple of hiccups with their pitching staff but for the most part they have been solid with a 2.33 team ERA and have allowed three runs or less ten times in 13 games.  The Aggies had gotten eight straight quality starts from their weekend rotation before their starter struggled on Sunday against Michigan State in a 9-8 slugfest.  The bullpen is relying on many newcomers and they have struggled at times so that will be something to watch in this series.

Offense

  • Park Factor according to Boyd's World – 108 from 2008-2011 (increases offense by 8%), 110 from 2007-2010 (increased offense by 10%).  330 down the lines, 375 to the power alleys and 400 to CF.  Ball travels well when the air warms up and short dimensions to the power alleys. 
  • Batting Average – .314 in 2012.  .291 in 2011 (3rd in the Big XII, 93rd in the NCAA)
  • Runs Per Game – 7.4 in 2012.  5.9 in 2011 (2/107)
  • Home Runs – 3 in 2012.  30 in 2011 (6/118)
  • Stolen Bases – 40 in 2012.  110 in 2012 (2/13)
  • Slugging Percentage – .402 in 2012.  .402 (5/112)
  • Walks – 61 in 2012.  228 in 2011 (5/79)
  • Strikeouts – 75 in 2012.  470 in 2011 (1/x)
  • HBP's – 17 in 2012.  58 in 2011 (8/109)
  • Sac Bunts – 8 in 2012.  76 in 2011 (2/9)

Lineup

Infield

Texas A&M is pretty inexperienced around the infield with the one regular returning at 1B and one part-time infielder moving over to 3B and newcomers or rarely used players being broken into the lineup at C, 2B and SS.

C – FR #12 Cole Lankford (LH – 2-21), FR #30 Mitchell Nau (RH – 3-17) and Soph #6 Troy Stein (RH – 2-13; '11 – 5-26) have been splitting up the reps behind the plate pretty evenly so it wouldn't be a surprise to see each of them get a chance at starting once in the series.  They have combined to only go 8-56 but have managed to drive in fifteen runs (eight by Nau) while usually hitting seventh. 

1B – SR #28 Jacob House (LH – .320/.426/.500, 2-12-5.  '11 – .301/.353/.408, 3-52-5) played his first two seasons at Arkansas before sitting out 2010 after transferring, won the job at 1B and ended up starting every game and was named 2nd team All-Big XII after leading the team in RBI and finishing in the top ten in the conf in RBI, R and H.  As with many of the Aggies, he is an aggressive hitter and didn't have good plate discipline with a 23/43 BB/K ratio last season but has been more patient this year with a 5/4 BB/K ratio.  House has gotten off to a good start as the cleanup hitter and has nearly matched his HR total of 2011 with two HR's thus far and has already matched his SB total from last season.  He went 0-3 in last year's game against Fullerton.

2B – FR #1 Blake Allemand (Both – 10-21, 4 BB/HBP) didn't start the first six games but got his chance in the Sunday game of the Holy Cross series and has started the last six games.  He is a little guy without much pop in his bat (8 of his 9 hits are singles) but has been doing a good job of getting on base while batting 9th and helping to set the table for the top of the order.  SR #14 Scott Arthur (2-18.  '11 – .233 in 30 AB's) started five of the first six games but did not hit well and was taken out of the lineup.  Soph #4 Charlie Curl (RH – .276/.336/.336, 1-18-4) started 29 times at 2B last season but none of those were in the last two months and he has only started once this season.

SS – The Aggies needed to find a replacement for SR Kenny Jackson, who started every game and was honorable mention All-Big XII after starting every game, and they went to the JC route to find their starter.  JR #16 Mikey Reynolds (.388/.516/.531, 0-7-5) was plugged into the leadoff spot and has been a sparkplug for the offense and has been on fire since the start of the season.  He has been on base an amazing 31 times in only 12 games and as with most of the Aggies he is a threat to run when he gets on base. 

3B – SR #17 Matt Juengel (RH – .353/.417/.392, 0-17-7. '11 – .308/.395/.490, 7-50-15) was the DH most of the time in 2011 and started only 13 games at 3B but has taken over after Adam Smith was drafted.  He was a very productive hitter and was honorable mention All-Big XII after leading the team in HR and finishing in the top ten in the conf in RBI, R, H, 3B and TB and is expected to contend for All-Big XII honors.  Juengel has gotten off to a very good start and hasn't been hitting for much power yet (15 of his 17 hits are singles) but he has been very productive with 17 RBI in 12 games while hitting third.  He went 1-3 and scored a run in last year's game with Fullerton. 

DH – FR #2 Chance Bolcerek (LH – 7-19, 4 BB/HBP) has moved into the lineup by starting six of the last seven games as the Aggies searched for a replacement for Juengel at DH by starting several players before settling on Bolcerek.  He his sixth all three games last weekend and has been doing a good job of getting on base.

Outfield

Texas A&M is very experienced in the outfield and they return all four players who started every game in 2011, including the best player in the Big XII.

LF – JR #8 Brandon Wood (RH – .325/.375/.425, 1-11-4.  '11 – .264/.351/.390, 1-28-6) split time in LF for the first 40 games of 2011 before starting the last 29 games.  He has good speed and hit five triples last season.  Wood is an aggressive hitter and over 25% of the time in 2011 (42 K's) and has already struck out 12 times this year.  He has hit fifth in the lineup most of the time this season and started 11 of the first 12 games.  Wood and has gotten off to a good start but he ran into the wall at full speed on Sunday and broke his nose and is questionable for this weekend.  If Wood is unable to play he will be replaced in the lineup by Soph #3 Jace Statum (LH – 5-13. '11 – .218/.279/.297, 0-9-3) is the fourth OF and started 28 games in 2011 while splitting time in the first part of the season with Wood.  He is a little guy with good speed but has struggled at the plate.  Statum went 4-5 on Tuesday vs. Prairie View.

CF – Soph #13 Krey Bratsen (RH – .220/.360/.293, 0-4-6. '11 – .332/.395/.373, 0-36-31) won the CF job from day one last year as a FR and had an outstanding season and was named 1st team All-Big XII and was a FR All-American.  He has exceptional speed and was 9th in the country in SB's and finished in the top ten in the conf in AVG and H and hit .380 in Big XII games.  Bratsen is also an outstanding bunter and was also 9th in the country with 19 SAC's in 2011 and is a threat to bunt in every AB to use his speed to get on base.  One issue that he has is making contact and he struck out 54 times in 2011, which nullifies his speed.  Bratsen his second most of last season but has gotten off to a very slow start and has been hitting in the bottom two spots in the lineup, although he is doing a better job of working counts and has a 6/6 BB/K ratio.  He has started to hit better and is 5-12 the last four games.  Bratsen went 2-4 in last year's game with Fullerton.

RF – JR #18 Tyler Naquin (LH – .490/.556/.612, 0-9-7. '11 – .381/.449/.538, 2-44-6) started most of the time as a FR but only hit .244 so it was a bit of a surprise how he played in 2011.  Naquin got off to a hot start and continued to scorch opposing pitching for the entire season and ended up being the Big XII Player of the Year and a 2nd team All-American.  He led the Big XII in AVG, R, H, and TB and was in the top five in the conf in 2B, 3B, OBP and SLG and also led the country in hits.  Naquin has good plate discipline and had a good BB/K ratio in 2011 (29/35) and has a 9/5 BB/K ration thus far.  As good as he was last year, he has been even better this year and is hitting like somebody who will contend for national player of the year honors.  Naquin was the leadoff hitter in 2011 but has been hitting 2nd this season and has been running much more than he did last year.  He played for Team USA last summer, is the best prospect among the position players and is projected to be drafted in the first two rounds in June.  He went 2-3 and scored a run in last year's game with Fullerton.

Defense

Fielding % - .982 with 9 errors in 2012.   .975 (3/25) in 2011 – 67 errors.  Texas A&M is breaking in new starters up the middle and they have been solid thus far.  House is an excellent 1B.  Juengel is below average at 3B.  Outstanding range among all four OF's and Naquin has one of the best OF arms in the country. 

Stolen Base Attempts – 8-13 in 2012.  52-85 in 2011.  Texas A&M has been rotating three catchers after losing last year's starter.  Lankford has been the best against runners (2-5).

WP's/PB's Allowed – 8 in 2012.  53 in 2011.  The catching rotation has done a solid job of blocking pitches.

Pitching

  • ERA – 2.33 in 2012.  2.90 in 2011 (2/26)
  • AVG – .196 in 2012.  .243 in 2011 (2/xx)
  • HR – 8 in 2012.  27 in 2011 (4/xx)
  • H's/9 IP – 6.3 in 2012.  8.1 in 2011 (3/26)
  • BB's/9 IP – 2.6 in 2012.  2.5 in 2011 (1/10)
  • K's/9 IP – 9.0 in 2012.  7.5 in (2/62)

Starters

Texas A&M had one of the deepest weekend rotations last season with standouts in all three spots and returns two of those starters.

FRI – JR #38 Michael Wacha (RHP – 2-0, 0.92 ERA, 22 apps, 3 GS, 20 IP, 11 H, 4 BB, 26 K, .164 BA, 1 HR, 0 HBP, 1 WP, 2-2 SB.  '11 – 9-4, 2.29 ERA, 19 GS, 2 CG, 130 IP, 117 H, 30 BB, 123 K, .242 BA, 3 HR, 4 HBP, 5 WP, 12-17 SB) wasn't a heralded recruit when he came onto campus but broke into the rotation in the latter half of 2010 and ended up going 9-2 with a 2.90 ERA and was a FR All-American.  Wacha had another strong season as a Soph, was 2nd team All-Big XII and 3rd team All-American and pitched for Team USA last summer.  He has very good control for a tall pitcher with a low 90's fastball, a good changeup and a slider.  Wacha has gotten off to another strong start and allowed only one hit and no runs with 8 K's in 5 1/3 IP in a rain shortened start against Illinois-Chicago, two hits and no runs with 11 K's in 7 IP against Holy Cross and two runs on eight hits with 7 K's in seven IP against Michigan State.  He is projected to be drafted in the first round in June.

SAT – SR #36 Ross Stripling (RHP – 2-0, 2.08 ERA, 3 GS, 22 IP, 17 H, 5 BB, 23 K, .215 BA, 1 HR, 0 HBP, 3 WP, 3-3 SB.  '11 – 14-2, 2.29 ERA, 24 apps, 4 saves, 16 GS, 4 CG, 126 IP, 91 H, 18 BB, 113 K, .202 BA, 5 HR, 7 HBP, 16 WP, 12-20 SB) was the Sunday SP as a Soph (6-5, 4.50) and was moved into a swingman role last season as a closer and midweek SP and was moved back into the weekend rotation after he threw seven shutout innings against Fullerton and held the Titans to three hits.  He ended up being a 1st team All-Big XII and All-American selection after leading the country in wins in 2011.  Stripling was drafted in the 9th round in June but decided to come back to school for his SR year.  He has a sinking fastball that sits in the upper 80's, a changeup and a curveball that he buries to get batters to pound the ball into the ground or chase the ball out of the strike zone.  Stripling has been solid in each start, allowing 2 R on 7 H with 8 K in 7 IP against Illinois-Chicago, 3 R on 6 H with 10 K in 6 2/3 IP against Holy Cross and threw eight shutout innings against Michigan State with 5 H and 5 K and was the Big XII Pitcher of the Week.

SUN – Redshirt Soph #55 Rafael Pineda (RHP – 2-0, 1.00 ERA, 3 GS, 18 IP, 10 H, 3 BB, 13 K, .156 BA, 2 HR, 1 HBP, 2 WP, 0-0 SB) didn't pitch during his first two years on campus as he worked on getting his mechanics down but pitched well in summer ball and continued to throw well during the fall and in his first two starts.  He threw seven shutout innings against Illinois-Chicago and allowed only one hit and followed that up by allowing two runs in seven innings with 8 K's against Holy Cross.  Pineda wasn't sharp against Michigan State and also wasn't helped by his defense committing three errors in a four run first inning but settled down to throw three scoreless innings before being removed from the game.  He has a low 90's fastball and is working on his off-speed pitches.

Relievers

Texas A&M had a deep bullpen last season that they could rely on to pitch the last couple of innings with the workhorses in the rotation doing most of the work.  Most of those pitchers have moved on and only a couple of pitchers who made appearances for the Aggies are back as they rely mostly on freshmen to finish off games and pitch during midweek games.

FR #15 Daniel Mengden (RHP – 0-0, 3.86 ERA, 7 apps, 2 saves, 7 IP, 7 H, 2 BB, 10 K, .259 BA, 0 HR, 1 HBP, 2 WP, 0-0 SB) is one of the harder throwers on the team with a fastball that sits in the low 90's and can tough the mid 90's along with a good slider so he has been handed the ball to finish off games.  He has only been asked to throw one inning per appearance but he is durable and finished off all three games against Michigan State.

JR #32 Kyle Martin (RHP – 1-1, 7.88 ERA, 7 apps, 8 IP, 9 H, 4 BB, 10 K, .290 BA, 1 HR, 1 HBP, 0 WP, 0-1 SB. '11 – 2-3, 3.67 ERA, 33 apps, 42 IP, 38 H, 13 BB, 38 K, .238 BA, 1 HR, 7 HBP, 1 WP, 6-8 SB) was second on the team in appearances in 2011 and will be one of the main middle relief options again this season.  He is 6'6" and throws from a 3/4 to sidearm arm slot with a low 90's fastball and is tough on RH hitters.  Martin hasn't been sharp to start the season and allowed four runs in the 10th inning against Holy Cross in the Aggies only loss.  

SR #35 Estevan Uriegas (LHP – 2-0, 1.42 ERA, 9 apps, 6 1/3 IP, 2 H, 0 BB, 6 K, .100 BA, 0 HR, 0 HBP, 0 WP, 0-0 SB.  '11 – 1-0, 3.60 ERA, 19 apps, 20 IP, 18 H, 8 BB, 16 K, .250 BA, 1 HR, 3 HBP, 1 WP, 3-5 SB) is the only LHP in the bullpen and is also the most experienced reliever on the team.  He will pitch in most tight games when a team has LH hitters coming up.  Uriegas is a little guy who doesn't throw hard but is a crafty lefty who does a good job of mixing pitches to keep hitters off balance.

Others who might figure into the bullpen mix this weekend are Soph #37 Derrick Hadley (RHP – 6.35 ERA in 3 apps – 5 2/3 IP, 8 H, 3 BB, 1 K, 2 HR.  '11 – 0-1, 5.40 ERA, 15 apps, 6 GS, 37 IP, 40 H, 16 BB, 18 K, .280 BA, 3 HR, 5 HBP, 3 WP, 1-2 SB), midweek SP FR #22 Corey Ray (RHP – 1-0, 1.35 ERA, 4 apps, 2 GS, 13 IP, 11 H, 3 BB, 9 K, .234 BA, 0 HR, 0 HBP, 1 WP, 1-3 SB), FR #44 Jason Freeman (RHP – 1-0, 2.57 ERA, 5 apps, 1 GS, 7 IP, 3 H, 4 BB, 6 K), JC transfer #54 Parker Ray (RHP – 0.00 ERA in 4 apps and 3 2/3 IP), Soph #34 Corey Brooks (RHP – 0.00 ERA in 3 apps and 2 2/3 IP) and FR #23 Gandy Stubblefield (RHP – 4.50 ERA, 3 apps, 6 IP, 3 H, 3 BB, 5 K, 1 HR) – a 14th round pick last June.

Outlook

Fullerton was opportunistic in winning seven straight games at home after a 1-3 start but they are going to have to improve their level of play to win the series at Texas A&M.  It usually wasn't pretty during their winning streak but the Titans managed to find ways to win against teams they were better than. 

Catching was a worry for Fullerton going into the season but Watkins and Wallach have done a solid job.  They will be tested this weekend because Texas A&M will look to run every chance they get and will be looking to distract the pitchers from doing their job of getting hitters out.  Stopping the running game and not giving up extra outs is going to be a key area to watch this weekend because the Titans defense has started to spring leaks like it did last season and they have made fourteen errors in the last eight games.  Fullerton will not win this series playing defense like that because the Aggies will make them pay for making mistakes.

Fullerton is going to have to have better at bats and play smarter baseball to take advantage of the opportunities that they get against a very good Texas A&M pitching staff.  The Titans have been very inconsistent at the plate this season and if they are unable to be more efficient on offense this weekend they will have trouble scoring runs against the arms that the Aggies will run out there.  One trend to watch is how Fullerton hits at night because they have been averaging about three runs per game in their nine games played in the evening but they have lit up Sunday pitching and averaged ten runs per game during the day.

This series is winnable if Fullerton continues to get good starting pitching out of Floro and Mathews, they compete better on offense, hit the ball on Sunday like they have the first three weeks and they play solid defense.  If the Titans are not able to do all of those things then Texas A&M is likely to win the series.