The Titans returned to Goodwin Field last week after splitting four games on the road with a midweek loss at USC and a series win at #5 Texas A&M and once again split four games after losing the midweek game to Washington State 8-7 in 11 innings and winning the series against their rivals from Long Beach State by winning a doubleheader by identical 2-1 scores on Friday before losing 7-2 on Sunday.
Fullerton jumped out to a 3-0 lead against Washington State in the third on an Ivory Thomas walk (one of his three walks), a double by Derek Legg, a two run RBI single by Michael Lorenzen and an RBI single by Richy Pedroza. It looked like Koby Gauna might have a chance to make the lead stand when he took a 3-1 lead into the sixth before the floodgates opened when an error extended the inning and the Cougars followed that up with a single, a three run HR and two doubles to take a 6-3 lead. J.D. Davis singled to lead off the sixth and eventually scored on a SF by Thomas in the bottom of the inning. WSU extended the lead to 8-4 in the seventh before Fullerton rallied for four runs to tie the game in the bottom of the inning. Lorenzen tripled, Carlos Lopez singled him in, Matt Chapman followed with a single, Pedroza bunted the runners over, Davis hit a SF and pinch-hitter Anthony Hutting hit a two run HR to tie the game. The game remained tied until the Cougars scored a run in the top of the eleventh and the Titans were held off the scoreboard for the fourth straight inning to end the game.
Fullerton and Long Beach decided to play a doubleheader on Friday with rain likely to wash out the game on Saturday and that forecast was accurate. The Dirtbags got off to a lead when they scored in the second and the Titans experienced nothing but frustration over the first seven innings as they stranded ten runners without scoring a run. Dylan Floro was dominant after allowing that run in the second inning and didn't allow another runner to get past second in throwing eight strong innings. Long Beach was able to keep Fullerton off of the scoreboard until the bottom of the eighth when Legg was hit by a pitch with two outs, pinch-hitter Greg Velazquez singled, Ivory Thomas hit an infield single and Pedroza drove in two runs with a full count single to center. Lorenzen came in from CF to throw a scoreless ninth for his seventh save and Floro evened up his record at 2-2 with the win. Fullerton had twelve singles in the game with four players each getting two hits.
Long Beach once again scored first in the nightcap when they took advantage of some wildness from Fullerton starter Kenny Mathews to score a run in the top of the fourth. Fullerton came back to score twice in the bottom of the inning when Lopez and Hutting got on base via infield singles, Velazquez walked, Legg was hit by a pitch to score one run and Chad Wallach hit a SF to score the second run. Mathews was dominant and the run that scored was the only runner to advance past second as he threw 7 2/3 innings and allowed five hits with no walks and six strikeouts. Grahamm Wiest retired the final four hitters for his first save and Mathews improved his record to 2-0 with the win. Lopez was the only Titan with two hits in the game.
Long Beach's record stood at 5-12 after the two one run losses with ten of their losses coming by one or two runs and having lost to Fullerton for the 14th time in fifteen games and they hashed out their frustrations in a team meeting on Saturday. The Dirtbags started the scoring for the third straight game with a run in the top of the first but it looked like their frustrations might continue after the Titans scored in the fourth and fifth innings to take a 2-1 lead. Lopez doubled and Velazquez singled him in for the first run and Thomas' RBI double in the fifth gave Fullerton the lead. Davis started and threw four effective innings and was relieved by Gauna, who threw a scoreless fifth before the wheels fell off in the sixth when Long Beach scored six runs on five singles, three of which didn't leave the infield, two walks, an error and a passed ball. Three Dirtbag relievers held the Titans off of the scoreboard over the last four innings and Fullerton only scored two runs in the game despite having fifteen baserunners. Lopez and Thomas each had two hits with Lopez doubling for both of his hits.
Fullerton is probably happy not to have a midweek game after losing the previous two and will continue their homestand at Goodwin Field this weekend with a series against Oral Roberts. The Golden Eagles will be making their second visit to Fullerton in four years and were swept in their previous trip out west in 2009. Oral Roberts has gotten off to a slow start with an offense that has had trouble scoring runs after losing several of the major contributors from their offense last season.
Oral Roberts Golden Eagles
- Current Record – 9-10
- Overall Record in 2011 – 39-22
- Conference Record in 2011 – 21-7 (1st – regular season); Won Summit League Tournament
- Post-Season – 2nd in Fort Worth Regional (L 2-10 vs. TCU, W 7-0 vs. Oklahoma, W 8-4 vs. TCU, W 7-2 vs. Dallas Baptist, L 9-11 vs. Dallas Baptist)
- Current RPI/ISR – 126/109. 2011 RPI/ISR – 82/89
- Current and Pre-season rankings – None
- Predicted conference finish – 1st by the Summit League coaches, Baseball America, Perfect Game and Easton College Baseball today
2011 Review and 2012 Summary
Oral Roberts has consistently been one of the better mid-major conference teams over the last decade and has won the Summit League championship every season since 1998. Rob Walton has been the head coach since 2004 and the Golden Eagles have averaged 41 wins a season since he took over. Oral Roberts has won at least one game in a regional in each of the last four years, finishing as the runner-up in their regional twice, and won their regional in 2006 before being eliminated in the Super Regional at Clemson. Oral Roberts had to make an adjustment in 2011 to the BBCOR bats after hitting over 100 HR's in 2010 and as a result they got off to a slow start at 9-11 and scored four runs or less eleven times before starting to hit their stride offensively during their conference schedule. The Golden Eagles got hot down the stretch and went 16-3 heading into their regional and after losing their first game to TCU, they won the next three games against Oklahoma, TCU and Dallas Baptist and led the championship game 8-0 after the first inning but their offense was stifled after that, their pitching wore down and Dallas Baptist eliminated them 11-9.
Oral Roberts usually has one of the more powerful offenses and hit at least 75 HR's per season from 2008-2010 before the new bats were implemented in 2011. The Golden Eagles developed a solid offense after the adjustment period to the BBCOR bats during the non-conference schedule but weren't as dynamic as previous teams were. Oral Roberts led the Summit League in HR's with 46 and were second in scoring and SLG. The Golden Eagles didn't run much with only two players having more than five SB's and both of them have moved on. Oral Roberts would play for one run at a time and led their conference in SAC's with four players having at least seven SAC's.
Oral Roberts usually has a solid pitching staff but that wasn't the case in 2010 when their staff ERA was 6.07 but they were vastly improved on the mound last season and their staff ERA of 3.50 was their best in four seasons. The Golden Eagles had four pitchers who were named first or second team all-conference and they led the Summit League in ERA, AVG and K's. Oral Roberts pitchers were a bit on the wild side and they were only sixth in the conference in walks and had a BB/K ratio of less than 2-1. The Golden Eagles had a deep bullpen with five relievers making at least twenty appearances and they were 30-2 when leading after six innings.
Oral Roberts traditionally challenges themselves with a strong non-conference schedule because they know that they need to do that with the conference that they play in and they have gone 43-46 in non-conference games the last three seasons. This year is no different because the Golden Eagles started their season with a series at Baylor where they were swept and after going 5-1 in series at home with Eastern Michigan and Alcorn State, they played a tournament at Alabama where they lost to Louisville and East Carolina before beating the Crimson Tide. Oral Roberts has also played six games against two of the better teams from the Missouri Valley, splitting midweek games with Wichita State and losing three out of four games against Missouri State last weekend, going 1-1 at home and 0-2 on the road in that split series.
Oral Roberts lost four of their six leading hitters from 2011 and has gotten off to a very slow start at the plate. The Golden Eagles have scored three runs or less in seven of their last eight games and 13 of 19 games overall. The offensive troubles for Oral Roberts have been especially bad on the road, where they have scored only fifteen runs in their eight weekend games. Five of the six games in which the Golden Eagles have scored 5+ runs were against Eastern Michigan and Alcorn State. Oral Roberts has only hit .223 in their games against teams other than Alcorn State. They have hit 19 HR's but eight of those also came against Alcorn State. The Golden Eagles haven't been running much with five SB's in their games that weren't played against Alcorn State and have averaged about a SAC bunt per game.
Oral Roberts returned six of the eight pitchers who threw at least thirty innings in 2011 so they figured to have a deep pitching staff again this season. The Golden Eagles have allowed four runs or less in 12 of 19 games but have had some inconsistency despite a solid 3.27 ERA. Oral Roberts had an injury to one of their SP's that shuffled their rotation and they have had trouble finishing games late and are 3-6 in games decided by one or two runs.
- Park Factor according to Boyd's World – 99 from 2008-2011 (decreases offense by 1%)
- Batting Average – .251 in 2012, .223 without Alcorn State series. .288 in 2011 (5th in the Summit, 102nd in the NCAA)
- Runs Per Game – 4.8 in 2012, 3.6 without Alcorn State series. 6.1 in 2011 (2/82)
- Home Runs – 19 in 2012, 11 without Alcorn State series. 46 in 2011 (1/29)
- Stolen Bases – 10 in 2012, 5 without Alcorn State series. 51 in 2011 (5/216)
- Slugging Percentage – .397 in 2012, .344 without Alcorn State series. .418 in 2011 (2/66)
- Walks – 61 in 2012, 41 (2.6 per game) without Alcorn State series. 270 (4.5 per game) in 2011 (1/26)
- HBP's – 9 in 2012. 53 in 2011 (4/148)
- Strikeouts – 139 in 2012, 7.3 per game. 359 (5.9 per game) in 2011 (2/x)
- Sac Bunts – 16 in 2012. 62 in 2011 (1/34)
Oral Roberts lost three of their infielders who made most of the starts at 1B, 2B and 3B and returns their SS and C. They brought in recruits to start at 3B and SS, moving the SS over to 2B, and have a part-time starter taking over at 1B.
C – JR #4 Bennett Pickar (RH – .300/.403/.317, 0-7-0. '11 – .193/.309/.280, 2-14-0) is in the lineup for his ability to handle the pitching staff. He hit poorly in 2011 but stayed in the lineup due to his defense. Pickar has been hitting much better this season and went 5-12 last weekend against Missouri State. He is expected to contend for all-conference honors. Pickar has trouble making contact and struck out 40 times in 2011 and is second on the team with 18 K's this season. He led the team with 13 SAC's in 2011 but has only one SAC bunt thus far. Pickar has hit 7th most of the time and occasionally hit 8th or 9th. He was drafted in the 15th round out of HS and is expected to be drafted around that range against this June.
1B – SR #15 Jared Schelhuber (RH – .328/.425/.627, 5-10-1. '11 – .337/.436/.470, 2-18-1 in 83 AB's) hit well when he got a chance to play in 2011 (24 starts) but didn't drive the ball much for a guy his size and only had seven extra base hits. He has already hit five HR's (three against Alcorn State) and leads the team in AVG and SLG. Schelhuber has a solid approach at the plate and has a very good 10/9 BB/K ratio. He has been in a bit of a slump and gone 6-27 with no HR or RBI the last eight games. Schelhuber has hit cleanup the last eleven games.
2B – SR #9 Cam Schiller (Both – .269/.301/.603, 7-20-1. '11 – .342/.416/.518, 7-56-3) was 2nd team all-conference in 2011 after hitting .400 in conference games and was in the top ten in the Summit in HR, RBI, R, H, 2B, TB and SLG when he was the SS before being moved over to 2B this season. He got off to a very slow 4-28 start in the first seven games but has hit .340 with six HR's since then. Schiller hit three HR's in the tournament at Alabama and is a threat to hit a HR at any time. He had a very good 26/27 BB/K ratio in 2011 but hasn't been patient at the plate thus far with a poor 4/14 BB/K ratio. Schiller has hit third the last eleven games.
SS – JC transfer #16 Nate Goro (RH – .259/.286/.333, 0-13-3) has helped to solidify the defense up the middle and has also been a productive hitter and is second on the team in RBI. He has been in a slump and has gone 5-31 with only one RBI over the last eight games. Goro is not patient at the plate and has a very poor 2/22 BB/K ratio and leads the team in strikeouts. He was hitting in the top of the lineup most of the early part of the season but has been hitting sixth lately after being moved down in the order due to his slump. Goro is tied for the team lead with three SB's.
3B – FR #5 Jose Trevino (RH – .296/.307/.493, 3-11-1) has the potential to be one of the better prospects on the roster after tying the single season Texas HS record with 25 HR's and leading his team to the state championship. He got off to a slow start as he got used to college pitching but has gone 11-28 over the last eight games and hit two HR's last Sunday to account for ORU's only scoring in the game. Trevino will go up there hacking and has only walked twice but does a solid job of making contact with only eight strikeouts. He has been splitting time between the 5th, 6th and 7th spots in the lineup.
All three outfielders were all-conference players last season and two of them have moved on. ORU has a JC transfer taking over in CF and there are platoons in RF and DH.
LF – SR #25 Brandon King (LH – .232/.333/.304, 0-7-0. '11 – .319/.419/.515, 10-56-2) was 1st team all-conference in 2011 after hitting .388 in conference games and finishing in the top ten in the Summit in HR, RBI, R, H, 2B, TB, BB and SLG. He was expected to contend for conference MVP honors but has gotten off to a very slow start and has been pressing as the offense has struggled. Despite hitting poorly thus far, King has continued to show great plate discipline with a 11/9 BB/K ratio after leading the team in walks and having a good 34/31 BB/K ratio in 2011. King was often hitting leadoff earlier in the year to take advantage of his ability to get on base before settling in at the 5th spot in the lineup last weekend.
CF – JC transfer #7 Kevin Cho (Both – .225/.295/.282, 0-5-3) has solidified things in CF but has gotten off to a slow start at the plate after transferring in from Orange Coast College. He got off to a solid start but has slumped lately and gone 5-32 in his last eight games. Cho doesn't have much power and only has three extra base hits. He is a good bunter and leads the team with five SAC's. Cho has good speed and is tied for the team lead with three SB's. He has been leading off or hitting second most of the season.
RF – FR #18 Tyler Coker (RH – .156 in 32 AB's, 2-5-0), JC transfer #2 Austen Colt (RH – 1-17), Soph #14 Brandon Healy (RH – .190 in 21 AB's. '11 - .107 in 28 AB's) have all been splitting time with Coker starting nine times, Colt six times and Healy four times. Coker has the best speed of the three and has led off three times. The RF spot has usually hit 8th or 9th.
DH – JR #30 Chris Williams (RH – .217 in 23 AB's, 1-6-0. '11 – .255 in 51 AB's, 1-7-0), FR #6 Jake O'Brien (LH – .208 in 24 AB's, 1-3-0), Healy, JC transfer #17 Tim ZuFall (RH – 1-8) have been splitting time with Williams starting eight times, O'Brien five times, Healy and ZuFall three times. The DH spot has usually hit 8th or 9th.
Fielding % - .976 with 17 errors in 2012. .968 (1/101) in 2011 – 74 errors.
Oral Roberts is solid at all four spots around the infield without any standouts. Trevino has a strong arm at 3B. Cho has solid range in CF and they are average in the corners.
Stolen Base Attempts – 6-14 in 2012. 34-59 in 2011 (1/xx)
Pickar has strong catch and throw skills and Fullerton will find it a challenge to run on him.
WP's/PB's Allowed – 12 in 2012. 56 in 2011. (4/xx)
Pickar was average at blocking pitches in 2011 but has been much better this season.
- ERA – 3.27 in 2012. 3.50 in 2011 (1/47)
- AVG – .260 in 2012. .247 in 2011 (1/xx)
- H's/9 IP – 8.7 in 2012. 8.2 in 2011 (1/28)
- HR – 6 in 2012. 22 in 2011 (4/xx)
- BB's/9 IP – 3.6 in 2012. 3.9 in 2011 (6/177)
- HBP – 6 in 2012. 70 in 2011 (4/xx).
- K's/9 IP – 7.3 in 2012. 7.2 in 2011 (1/94)
Oral Roberts returns their two best SP's from last season and has gotten good work from a pitcher who redshirted last season and another one who barely pitched to give them a deep rotation.
THURS – JR #33 Drew Bowen (RHP – 3-1, 2.65 ERA, 5 GS, 2 CG, 34 IP, 33 H, 10 BB, 23 K, .260 BA, 2 HR, 1 HBP, 0 WP, 1-1 SB. '11 – 6-2, 1.73 ERA, 12 GS, 68 IP, 48 H, 28 BB, 53 K, .201 BA, 1 HR, 9 HBP, 4 WP, 5-9 SB) had elbow surgery early in 2010 that forced him to take a medical redshirt and he got off to a late start last season due to the lengthy recovery time from the surgery and only made a couple of starts before conference play. He didn't pitch like somebody recovering from surgery and led the Summit League in ERA and AVG and was 2nd team all-conference and he was dominant down the stretch in throwing a shutout in their conference tournament and holding a strong hitting Oklahoma team scoreless in eight innings in their regional. Bowen threw five shutout innings in the season opener at Baylor, struggled in allowing six runs to Eastern Michigan, allowed one run to Alcorn State and was ok in allowing four runs (three earned) in six innings against East Carolina before throwing a CG SHO to win a 1-0 pitchers duel against Missouri State last week to win Summit League pitcher of the week honors. He has had slight command issues since coming back from his surgery (9 HBP and 3.7 BB/9 IP in 2011) and doesn't throw quite as hard as he did, topping out around 90, but when he is on he is very tough to hit. Bowen is projected to be drafted around the 20th round in June but could go higher if he has a good season.
FRI – JR #34 Kurt Giller (RHP – 1-2, 5.40 ERA, 5 GS, 27 IP, 28 H, 14 BB, 29 K, .280 BA, 2 HR, 0 HBP, 1 WP, 0-5 SB. Redshirt in 2011) or SR #26 Mike Torrence (LHP – 1-3, 4.32 ERA, 6 apps, 3 GS, 25 IP, 25 H, 12 BB, 23 K, .269 BA, 0 HR, 1 HBP, 1 WP, 0-1 SB. 6 IP in 2011) will be starting in the second game of the series with the other one available in relief. Torrence has improved more than any pitcher on the staff after barely pitching last season. He allowed one run in 6 1/3 innings in a midweek start against Central Arkansas and was moved into the rotation, where he struggled against Louisville in allowing six runs in 6 2/3 innings and didn't have good control at Missouri State last week when he allowed two runs on five hits and five walks in five innings. Giller pitched at Nebraska before sitting out last season as a transfer while recovering from elbow surgery and wasn't sharp in his first three starts and allowed 15 runs in 14 innings. He has been better the last two weeks and held Alabama to two runs on four hits in seven innings and allowed only one run in six innings to Missouri State with ten strikeouts. Giller's best pitches are his cutter and changeup. He was drafted in the 21st round out of HS and projects to be drafted in the 15th-20th round range in June.
SAT – Soph #13 Alex Gonzalez (RHP – 1-1, 2.00 ERA, 5 apps, 3 GS, 18 IP, 15 H, 4 BB, 10 K, .234 BA, 0 HR, 2 HBP, 3 WP, 0-0 SB. '11 – 8-7, 3.41 ERA, 18 GS, 5 CG, 106 IP, 96 H, 43 BB, 100 K, .246 BA, 4 HR, 9 HBP, 8 WP, 4-9 SB) was a workhorse as a FR and was the Summit League's Pitcher of the Year and a FR All-American after leading the conference in wins, GS, IP and K. He was an 11th round pick out of HS and has a live arm with a low 90's fastball but is still working on getting better command of his pitches (9 HBP, 8 WP, 3.7 BB/9 IP in 2011). Gonzalez was dominant against Summit League teams and went 6-0 with a 1.60 ERA in eight starts but he didn't pitch well in the regional and allowed 13 runs (10 ER) in 2 1/3 innings in two starts. He threw well at Baylor in his first start when he allowed two runs in six innings but was injured in his next start against Eastern Michigan and only threw two innings. Gonzalez didn't pitch against Alcorn State and made two relief appearances at Alabama before returning to the rotation last Sunday at Missouri State when he threw 7 1/3 innings and allowed three runs (1 ER).
Oral Roberts bullpen was a strong area in 2011 with six relievers making at least twenty appearances and five of those pitchers are back for this season. Their bullpen has usually been solid after letting the first two games at Baylor get away late before a blown save against Missouri State kept them from splitting the four game series.
Closer – SR #33 Matt Rush (RHP – 0-1, 6.00 ERA, 2 saves, 8 apps, 6 IP, 5 H, 4 BB, 8 K, .217 BA, 0 HR, 0 HBP, 0 WP, 0-0 SB. '11 – 3-3, 4.10 ERA, 9 saves, 27 apps, 42 IP, 33 H, 31 BB, 41 K, .220 BA, 2 HR, 2 HBP, 0 WP, 3-4 SB) came in as a JC transfer last season from Cypress College and ended up as the closer and was 2nd team all-conference after finishing second in the conference in saves and third in appearances. He has a good arm but has control issues (6.6 BB/9 IP in 2011). Rush had converted his first two save opportunities this season before allowing four runs last Friday against Missouri State.
SR #43 Lars Liguori (LHP – 0-1, 2.84 ERA, 11 apps, 6 IP, 5 H, 4 BB, 3 K, .217 BA, 0 HR, 0 HBP, 2 WP, 1-2 SB. '11 – 1-1, 3.20 ERA, 1 save, 30 apps, 20 IP, 14 H, 12 BB, 24 K, .203 BA, 0 HR, 4 HBP, 2 WP, 1-2 SB) will be the only LHP out of the bullpen (unless Torrence doesn't start on Friday) and will usually face only a couple of LH batters. He led the Summit League in appearance in 2011 and is on his way to doing so again this season.
SR #11 Joe Spring (RHP – 0-1, 3.55 ERA, 7 apps, 1 GS, 13 IP, 17 H, 4 BB, 6 K, .333 BA, 1 HR, 0 HBP, 2 WP, 1-1 SB. '11 – 5-1, 2.81 ERA, 1 save, 21 apps, 5 GS, 58 IP, 57 H, 19 BB, 40 K, .264 BA, 2 HR, 12 HBP, 2 WP, 7-11 SB) was a workhorse out of the bullpen last season who was capable of going several innings in an appearance, started three conference games and was 2nd team all-conference. He saved the best for last when he threw five scoreless innings against Dallas Baptist in the regional title game. Spring didn't throw well in his only start this season (3 IP, 7 H, 4 R against Wichita State) but has thrown better out of the bullpen. Spring will throw inside and hit twelve batters in 2011.
SR #36 Dan Martony (RHP – 2-0, 0.66 ERA, 1 save, 6 apps, 14 IP, 10 H, 2 BB, 11 K, .204 BA, 0 HR, 0 HBP, 0 WP, 0 HBP, 1-1 SB. '11 – 4-0, 2.76 ERA, 1 save, 20 apps, 49 IP, 46 H, 8 BB, 26 K, .256 BA, 1 HR, 8 HBP, 1 WP, 3-3 SB) was another workhorse out of the bullpen in 2011 and capable of going several innings. He is more of a control pitcher and has been throwing very well and picked up both of his wins when he threw four innings.
Other relievers who could come into a game are JR #21 Alec Smith (RHP – 1-0, 0.82 ERA, 6 apps, 11 IP, 11 H, 4 BB, 12 K, .282 BA, 0 HR, 1 HBP, 0 WP, 1-2 SB. '11 – 2-1, 5.40 ERA, 1 save, 20 apps, 32 IP, 27 H, 23 BB, 29 K, .233 BA, 1 HR, 11 HBP, 7 WP, 5-5 SB) and JC transfer #17 Tim ZuFall (RHP – 0-0, 4.32 ERA, 4 apps, 1 GS, 8 IP, 8 H, 5 BB, 4 K, .250 BA, 1 HR, 0 HBP, 0 WP, 0-0 SB)
Fullerton has been a little frustrated with playing .500 ball over the past two weeks but the Titans have been winning the series on the weekend and have won four straight series after losing the opening series of the season at #1 Florida. Oral Roberts has only won two series against inferior opponents and has gone 3-7 in their other three weekend series/tournaments.
As much as Fullerton has been frustrated with their offense and the inability to get key hits to drive in runs, Oral Roberts has had even more struggles with scoring runs with an offense that has pretty much become an all or nothing attack that is relying on the long ball to put runs up on the scoreboard.
Both pitching staffs have usually been holding up end their end of the bargain with nearly identical ERA's. Fullerton's starting pitching has been a little better, the middle relief for Oral Roberts has been a little better and Fullerton has been better at finishing games off.
There don't figure to be many runs scored this weekend with two offenses that have had issues and two pitching staffs that have usually done a good job. Fullerton is a better team than Oral Roberts and as long as the Titans don't beat themselves they should win this series.