Baseball Preview: UOP Tigers

Pacific brought back most of their roster in 2010 and won nine of their first ten weekend series. They were trying to get into position to make a run at the Big West title when Fullerton visited Stockton on the first weekend of May and the Titans won the first two games of the series and the Tigers never recovered

Before Fullerton took last weekend off, the Titans played a critical Big West series at Goodwin Field with Cal Poly and won a hard fought series by winning the opener 6-1, losing the second game 8-6 and rallying to win the third and deciding game in extra innings 5-4 to remain tied for first in the conference standings at 9-3.  The Mustangs are a young and talented team and have been playing inconsistently since sweeping their first two weekend series and they lost two of their first three conference series, with a sweep of Irvine in between the series losses, and they gave Fullerton all they could handle.

Fullerton jumped on Cal Poly starter Joey Wagman early in the first game by scoring runs in the second and third innings.  Anthony Hutting singled to lead off the second, stole second, advanced to third on a wild pitch and scored on a SF by Clay Williamson.  Jared Deacon got on base on an error to lead off the third, went to second on a single by Richy Pedroza and scored on an RBI single by Michael Lorenzen.  The Titans broke things open with four runs in the sixth when Carlos Lopez and Lorenzen led off the inning with singles, Hutting drove in Lopez with a double and Lorenzen scored and Hutting advanced to third on error by the RF to knock Wagman out of the game.  Hutting scored on a wild pitch for the third run of the inning, Williamson followed with a single, Derek Legg doubled and Williamson scored the final run of the inning on another wild pitch.  Dylan Floro allowed hits in each of the first five innings but was able to escape without any damage and retired the Mustangs in order in the sixth and seventh before Cal Poly finally put a run on the board with three hits in the eighth.  Floro scattered ten hits and didn't walk a batter while allowing only that one run and struck out eight batters to improve his record to 6-3.  The hitting leaders for Fullerton were Hutting with two hits, two runs and an RBI and Lorenzen with two hits, a run and an RBI.

The second game of the series was a pitchers duel between Cal Poly starter Kyle Anderson and Kenny Mathews until Fullerton scored twice in the bottom of the fourth.  Lorenzen got things started by getting on base on an error, Matt Chapman doubled, Ivory Thomas hit an RBI single and Hutting brought in the second run with a SF.  The Mustangs had two runners on with two outs in the fifth when the wheels fell off for the Titans when Big West HR leader Mitch Haniger hit his eighth HR, Mathews walked the next hitter, gave up a single and Nick Torres hit the second three run HR of the inning and Cal Poly took a 6-2 lead, which didn't last long when Fullerton scored four runs in the bottom half of the inning to tie things up.  Anthony Trajano and Lopez singled with two outs, Lorenzen doubled them in to cut the lead in half, Chapman was hit by a pitch and Thomas tripled to left over a drawn in outfield to tie the game.  Willy Kuhl came into the game in the sixth and struck out two hitters in the sixth and seventh and struck out the first two batters of the eighth when Chris Hoo doubled and pinch-hitter Alex Michaels hit a HR off of the RF foul pole to give the Mustangs an 8-6 lead.  Reed Reilly came into the game for Cal Poly in the sixth inning and allowed only one hit while holding Fullerton scoreless for the last four innings to pick up the win.  Kuhl struck out eight batters in 3 2/3 IP but took the loss on Michaels' HR to fall to 2-3.  Thomas had two hits and three RBI, Lorenzen had two hits, two runs and two RBI and Lopez had two hits and a run for the Titans.

Fullerton scored first for the third straight game when Thomas singled with one out in the first, stole second and Lopez singled him in.  Cal Poly tied the game up in the top of the fourth and the Titans retook the lead in the bottom of the inning when Lorenzen doubled and Chapman doubled him in to knock Mustangs starter Kyle Brueggemann out of the game.  Cal Poly tied the game back up in the top of the fifth and the Titans went back in front 3-2 in the bottom of the sixth when Lopez led off the inning with a double, Lorenzen's SAC bunt moved him to third and Hutting hit a SF to bring in the run.  Fullerton starter Grahamm Wiest escaped trouble in the seventh when he gave up a two out double and the next hitter singled and Austin Kingsolver's throw from LF nailed the runner at the plate.  Wiest retired the side in order in the eighth and left the game after allowing two runs on eight hits and one walk with three strikeouts.  Lorenzen came in from CF to finish off the game and after converting his first twelve save chances, this was unlucky number thirteen.  He allowed a leadoff double and retired the next two hitters before Hoo's single tied the game.  Lorenzen walked the next hitter and gave up a single that gave Cal Poly the lead.  Hutting led off the bottom of the ninth with a single and Kingsolver's one out bunt single moved him to second.  Pinch-hitter Keegan Dale's fielder's choice ground out moved Hutting to third and Jared Deacon tied the game with a two out single to right.  Lorenzen gave up a one out double in the tenth but stranded the runner and Thomas walked to lead off the bottom of the inning before Lopez's double to the wall in left brought Thomas home with the game winner that started off a wild celebration by the Titans.  Lorenzen picked up the win to improve to 2-0 and Lopez led Fullerton at the plate with three hits and two RBI.

For the fifth time this season, Fullerton followed up a series win by losing on Tuesday when the Titans lost 6-5 at LMU.  After the Lions scored runs in the second and third innings to go up 2-0, Fullerton scored four times in the fourth to take the lead.  Hutting singled with one out and advanced to third on a wild pickoff throw, J.D. Davis walked, Matt Orloff's squeeze bunt scored Hutting, Casey Watkins was hit by a pitch, Pedroza singled in Davis, Watkins scored on a botched rundown play and Thomas singled in Pedroza.  LMU came right back to score twice against starter Koby Gauna to tie the game in the bottom of the inning.  The Titans took a 5-4 lead in the top of the fifth when Chapman doubled, Hutting bunted him to third and Chapman scored on a wild pitch.  LMU tied the game in the seventh with a run off of Christian Coronado and took the lead for good in the eighth with a leadoff HR off of Dimitri DeLaFuente by Shon Roe, his fourth hit of the day.  Pedroza broke an 0-10 skid with three hits, a run and an RBI and was the only Titan with multiple hits in the game.

Fullerton came back from their weekend off and played a bit of a sluggish affair at Goodwin Field against USC.  Fullerton only had six hits in the game but took advantage of twelve walks and despite leaving fourteen runners on base was able to get enough guys around the bases and took advantage of some solid pitching to beat the Trojans 4-2 and get their first Tuesday win against a Pac 11 team after losing to USC, WSU, UCLA and ASU previously on Tuesdays (the Titans did beat ASU in their second game in Tempe).  USC scored a run in the second inning and the Titans stranded eight runners, five getting on base on BB's and HBP's, before they took the lead with two runs in the fifth when Lopez walked, Lorenzen doubled him to third, Lopez scored on Hutting's ground out to tie the game and Lorenzen scored on Davis' ground out.  Fullerton put the game out of reach with two runs in the sixth when Pedroza and Thomas led off the inning with walks and Lornenzen tripled them in.  The Titans used seven pitchers on a staff day that was used to get the pitching staff back in the groove after not playing last weekend.  Jose Cardona started and allowed a run in two innings, Gauna threw 2 1/3 scoreless innings to pick up the win and Lorenzen finished things off in the ninth for his Big West leading thirteenth save.  Lorenzen was the hitting star of the night in his best game of the season with three extra base hits (two 2B's and a 3B), two RBI and a run and Pedroza was on base four times with two hits and two walks.

Fullerton resumes Big West play this weekend by leaving the area for the first time since their trip to Texas A&M nearly two months when the Titans head up to Stockton to play the Pacific Tigers, who have had a tough season with their only series win coming against Brown.  This will probably be the last time that Fullerton will visit Stockton because Pacific, the only private school in the Big West, will be leaving the conference after next season and going into the WCC, a conference whose members are all private universities.

 

Pacific Tigers

  • Overall Record – 11-31
  • Conference Record – 1-11 (9th)
  • Overall and conference record in 2011 – 17-37, 9-15 (8th).   
  • Post-Season – None
  • 2012 RPI/ISR – 239/201.  2011 RPI/ISR – 203/169
  • Pre-season ranking/Current ranking – None
  • Predicted conference finish – 7th by the Big West coaches, 9th by Baseball America, Perfect Game and Easton College Baseball.

 

2011 Summary and 2012 Preview

Pacific brought back most of their roster in 2010 and won nine of their first ten weekend series.  They were trying to get into position to make a run at the Big West title when Fullerton visited Stockton on the first weekend of May and the Titans won the first two games of the series and the Tigers never recovered, struggling down the stretch in May and losing seven of their last nine games to go from contending for second in the conference to finishing fourth at 12-12, 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 2010 and the Tigers went 3-12 to start the season, went .500 over the next twenty games as the players settled in before things fell apart down the stretch for the second straight season and Pacific only won four of their final nineteen games.

Pacific didn't expect to hit as well in 2011 as they did the previous two seasons with so many new starters in the lineup and using the new BBCOR bats and was held to four runs or less in 15 of their first 23 games, got hot in the middle of the season when the Tigers scored 5+ runs in 11 of 15 games before cooling off again and scoring four runs or less in 11 of their last 16 games.  Pacific wasn't patient at the plate, averaging less than three walks per game, and aggressive early in counts.  The Tigers had good contact hitters at the top of their lineup and big swingers in the middle of the order.  Pacific didn't bunt much with one batter accounting for almost half of their 36 SAC bunts but they did move runners quite a bit on hit and runs and were second in the Big West in SB's.

Pacific expected to have a solid pitching staff in 2011 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.  Both starters regressed from how they pitched in 2010 and the Tigers had nothing but chaos in the other starting pitching spot and the result was Pacific's team ERA going up by nearly a run to 6.32 despite batters using BBCOR bats.  The Tigers were last in the conference in ERA by over a run and were also last in the Big West in AVG, BB and K and allowed the most HR's.

Pacific only had three players hit over .300 in 2011 and lost two of them but hoped that having the rest of the lineup returning would result in getting off to a better start than they did last season but that wasn't the case.  The Tigers were swept by Cal and lost all four games in a tournament in San Diego and scored four runs or less in six of those games. Pacific's struggles on offense continued as they lost series against Kansas State, Creighton and Gonzaga and scored four runs or less six times while winning a game in each series.  The Tigers were sitting at 4-16 before winning four games against Brown while scoring 42 runs for their only series win of the season.  

Pacific took the momentum from the Brown series into their Big West opener at Irvine and had the Anteaters on the ropes in the first two games before giving up late leads in each game on their way to being swept.  The Tigers lost two of three to San Jose State and UC Davis before being swept by UCSB and Cal Poly and the offense has continued to struggle.  Pacific has scored four runs or less in twelve of their last fifteen weekend games and has only hit .225 and averaged 2.8 runs per game in Big West games.  Pacific's approach at the plate has been the same since Don Barbara started working with the position players in 2009 with the hitters being very aggressive, not walking much and spraying the ball gap to gap (they are second in the Big West in 2B's).  The Tigers are running less this season and are next to last in the Big West in SB's but they have stolen ten bases in the last seven games.  Pacific is bunting more to move runners along and has already passed their SAC bunt total of 2011.

Pacific lost pitchers who threw for over 300 innings in 2011 and they were hoping that addition by subtraction would improve the results but it was more of the same early and the Tigers allowed five runs or more in fifteen of the first eighteen games.  The pitching improved some over the next eighteen games with Pacific allowing four runs or less in half of them but has regressed over the last two weeks with the Tigers allowing at least six runs in every game while facing two of the better offenses in the Big West in UCSB and Cal Poly.  

There has been some improvement in the pitching numbers across the board, especially in keeping the ball in the yard with only eleven HR's allowed over the first 38 games before giving up seven HR's to Nevada and Cal Poly last week.  Pacific has gotten better starting pitching most of the time on Fridays than they did in 2011 but has struggled in the other two starting spots and the bullpen isn't deep after their first two relievers and the Tigers pitching has struggled to keep them in Big West series with a staff ERA of 5.97 in conference games.

 

Offense

  • Park Factor according to Boyd's World – 104 (increases offense by 4%).  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 – .278 (2nd in the Big West), .268 without Brown series.  .277 in 2011 (4th in the Big West).
  • Scoring – 184 (4th), 4.4 runs per game; 3.6 runs per game without Brown series.  240 (6th), 4.4 runs per game in 2011.
  • Home Runs – 10 (4th).  19 in 2011 (4th). 
  • Slugging Percentage – .364 (3rd), .343 without Brown series.  .365 in 2011 (6th).
  • Walks – 115 (8th), 2.7 per game.  145 in 2011 (8th), 2.7 per game.
  • HBP's – 32 (9th).  29 in 2011 (9th).
  • Strikeouts – 229 (4th), 5.9 per game.  375 in 2011 (3rd), 6.9 per game.
  • Stolen Bases – 23-50 (9th).  58-84 in 2011 (2nd). 
  • Sac Bunts – 38 (7th).  36 in 2011 (8th).

 

Infield

Pacific only lost one starter from their infield, second team All-Big West 1B Brian Martin, but things have been unsettled with starters shuffling in and out of the lineup at most positions.  

C – Soph #15 Jason Taasaas (RH – .257/.352/.303, 1-11-0.  '11 – .205/.337/.289, 2-13-2 in 83 AB's) shared time last year as a FR but struggled both at and behind the plate.  He started out hitting .329 over the first 31 games but has slumped during the Big West schedule and only gone 5-39 during the last eleven games.  Taasaas was splitting time earlier in the season but has caught the last fifteen games due to an injury to Pacific's other catcher.  He has been hitting in the middle of the lineup most of the time and does a solid job of putting the ball in play with an 11/14 BB/K ratio.  Taasaas went 0-8 in 2011 at Fullerton.

C/DH – Soph #13 Riley Drongesen (RH – .380/.474/.506, 0-13-1.  8 AB's in 2011) barely played as a FR but got a chance to play early and all he did was spray line drives all over the place as an impact bat in the middle of the lineup with an excellent 11/8 BB/K ratio.  He is a versatile player and started games at 2B (seven) and at C (ten) as well as at DH before he broke his hand on a HBP in the final game of the Irvine series and has been sidelined since then.  The lack of having Drongesen in the lineup has been shown by a drop in productivity with Pacific averaging three runs per game in the sixteen games he has missed.

1B – FR #21 Erik Lockwood (RH – .372/.411/.481, 1-24-0) had the unenviable task of taking over for four year starter Martin but he has stepped into those shoes rather nicely and is second in the Big West in AVG and is in the top ten in the conference in 2B and RBI and does a good job of hitting the ball gap to gap.  He was only hitting in the .290's in the first twenty games going into the Brown series, padded his stats by going 9-16 and has continued to hit the cover off of the ball and is hitting .405 in conference games.  Lockwood is aggressive and will swing early in the count and has a poor 5/19 BB/K ratio.  He will most likely be hitting third.

2B – Soph #4 Curtis Gomez (RH – .297/.316/.432, 1-13-0.  '11 – .224/.258/.345, 1-10-1 in 58 AB's) was a backup infielder and only started thirteen games in 2011 but has been a regular this season because of his defense.  He was hitting .320 after going 8-20 against Brown but went into a slump against Big West pitching and was only 3-23 in the first three conference series before heating up in the last two games at Cal Poly, when he went 6-8 with an HR.  Gomez is an aggressive hitter with a bad 3/17 BB/K ratio.  He has hit second most of the time but has been hitting lower in the order the last couple of weeks.

SS/LF – JR #8 Josh Simms (RH – .291/.349/.373, 0-14-8.  '11 – .237/.288/.283, 1-10-5) didn't play much as a FR but moved into the lineup in 2011 and did a solid job defensively but had issues hitting.  He was hitting .270 over the first twenty games before fattening up against Brown when he went 8-14.  Simms has struggled since and is hitting in the .220's in Big West games.  He only had four extra base hits in 2011 but has been hitting for more power this season with nine 2B's and two 3B's.  Simms has a big swing and struck out 20% of the time last year and is 9th in the Big West with 30 K's.  He has good speed and is 7th in the Big West in SB's.  Simms has been hitting second lately.  He went 3-10 at Fullerton in 2011.  Simms has made nine starts in LF and when he plays out there, SR #1 Garrett Borba (3-26.  1-13 in 2011) will be in the lineup.

3B – JR #10 Dustin Torchio (Both – .296/.369/.352, 0-22-2.  '11 – .369/.419/.451, 1-17-5.  '10 – .222 in 27 AB's) was a reserve as a FR before moving into the lineup in 2011 and got off to a solid start and was hitting in the .320's going into the Fullerton series.  He tattooed the ball against the Titans and went 7-12 in the series and took off from there the rest of the season, hitting a scalding .437 in conference games on his way to winning the Big West batting title and being selected first team All-Big West.  Torchio is not a big guy and does a good job of spraying the ball around the field as the leadoff hitter with very good plate discipline (16/18 BB/K ratio in 2011 and 14/15 this season).  He is also a very good bunter and was second in the conference with 15 SAC bunts in 2011.  Torchio got off to a solid start and was hitting in the .330's after the Brown series but has only hit .189 in Big West games, a big reason why Pacific has had trouble scoring lately.

 

Outfield

Pacific lost second team All-Big West LF Matthew Carvutto but returned the other players who started in the OF in 2011.

LF – FR #5 Taylor Murphy (LH – .224/.306/.255, 0-9-1) has started half of the games in LF and has been in the lineup primarily for his defense.  He went 6-13 against Brown but has only hit .188 against everybody else and is 2-29 in Big West games.

LF/CF – SR #11 Brett Christopher (Both – .248/.290/.376, 2-13-6.  '11 – .211/.262/.265, 1-11-15.  '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 slumped badly last year while getting adjusted to the BBCOR bats.  He has good speed and was tied for 5th in the Big West in SB's in 2011 and is a very good bunter (led the conf in SAC's in 2010 and has 8 SAC bunts this season).  Christopher takes a big cut when he swings and he was 2nd in the conf with 50 K's in 2011 and has a poor 4/17 BB/K ratio.  He has started a little over half of the games, splitting time between LF and CF, and will usually hit lower in the order.  Christopher has hit well against Fullerton, going 4-12 with an HR in 2011 and 9-24 in his career against the Titans.

CF – FR #3 Tyler Sullivan (LH – .257/.368/.284, 0-7-1) has played the rest of the time in CF and has usually hit lower in the order.  He has very little power with only two extra base hits in 74 AB's but does a solid job of working counts (11/17 BB/K ratio).

RF – SR #23 Allen Riley (Both – .242/.298/.392, 4-20-1.  '11 – .290/.329/.439, 4-38-2.  '10 – .237 in 59 AB's) has good power and was in the top ten in the Big West in 2011 in HR, RBI, 2B, 3B and TB.  He is an aggressive hitter with a big swing and he has been in the top ten in the conference the last two seasons with 44 K's in 2011 and 31 this year.  Riley was hitting in the .270's after the Brown series and has only hit .186 over the last seventeen games with no HR's and three RBI.  He has usually been hitting 4th or 5th.  Riley went 4-14 with four RBI at Fullerton in 2011.

DH – SR #27 Daniel Johnston (RH – .229 in 48 AB's.  '11 – .264/.306/.411, 4-27-15) is a good athlete who has a good power/speed combo and was tied for 5th in the conference in SB's last season.  He was among the leaders in the Big West in HR, 2B and SLG in 2011 going into the Fullerton series but went 0-13 against the Titans and slumped for the rest of the season.  Johnson is a big man with a big swing and led the Big West with 56 strikeouts in 2011.  He wasn't playing much earlier as he got off to a bad start and has slowly been working his way into a platoon at DH after playing in the OF most of the time in 2011.

DH – JR #9 Tyger Pederson (LH – .253/.370/.289, 0-11-1.  '11 – .285/.354/.306, 0-13-2) didn't play much in non-conf games in 2011 but hit very well in April and was hitting .373 going into the series at Fullerton while starting at 2B.  He only went 1-12 against the Titans and that started his slump over the last part of the season when he only hit .208 during the bulk of the conference schedule.  Pederson got off to a slow start when he only went 7-31 in the first twenty games, fattened up against Brown when he went 9-16 and has only gone 5-36 over the last seventeen games.  He has started about half of Pacific's games at DH with a few games sprinkled in at 1B early in the year.

 

Defense

Fielding % – .964 (7th) with 56 errors.  2011 – .966 (8th) with 70 errors.  Pacific's defense has had issues after being solid in 2009-2010 and they have allowed 42 unearned runs.  Lockwood has been below average at 1B, Gomez has been average at 2B, Simms has good range at SS but leads the Big West with 11 errors and Torchio is solid at 3B.  Pacific has been sacrificing some offense for defense in the OF with Murphy and Sullivan, who are both good defensively and Murphy has 11 assists in limited playing time so it wouldn't be smart to run on him.  Christopher is also good on defense and Riley is average.

Stolen Base Attempts – 48-72 (8th).  2011 – 65-89 (9th).  Pacific has had issues with controlling the running game the last two seasons.  The Tigers pitchers will throw to first often and they are second in the Big West in pickoffs and balks.

WP's/PB's Allowed – 42 (7th).  2011 – 91 (9th).  Pacific has also struggled with blocking pitches.  Their pitchers try to get hitters to pound the ball into the ground so they tend to throw many pitches in the dirt.

 

Pitching

  • ERA – 5.72 (8th in the Big West).  6.32 in 2011 (9th in the Big West).
  • AVG – .305 (8th).  .326 in 2011 (9th).
  • Walks – 142 (7th), 3.6 BB/9 IP.  238 (9th), 4.5 BB/9 IP in 2011.
  • HBP – 63 (2nd).  70 in 2011 (1st).
  • OBP – .393 (9th).  .419 in 2011 (8th).
  • Strikeouts – 193 (8th), 4.8 K/9 IP.  255 (9th), 4.9 K/9 IP in 2011.
  • SLG – .432 (8th).  .465 in 2011 (9th).
  • HR – 18 (6th).  41 HR in 2011 (9th).

 

Starters

Pacific lost their only two regular starters, Marcus Pointer and Jake Hummel, so they had to completely overhaul their rotation with two FR leading the way.

FRI – FR #22 Michael Benson (RHP – 2-6, 3.34 ERA, 10 GS, 2 CG, 1 SHO, 65 IP, 62 H, 20 BB, 34 K, .262 AVG, 2 HR, 6 HBP, 1 WP, 10-16 SB) had an ERA just under 5.00 in his first four starts while walking an average of four batters per 9 IP.  He threw a six hit CG SHO against Brown to win Big West pitcher of the week honors to start a five game stretch where he had a 1.67 ERA and an improved 1.7 BB/9 IP ratio.  Benson left his start at Irvine with a lead (7 1/3 IP, 8 H, 3 R, 1 BB, 6 K) before the Anteaters rallied in the ninth and allowed only one run in each of his starts against San Jose State and UC Davis but was a tough luck loser both times.  His defense let him down vs. UCSB (7 IP, 7 H, 5 R, 2 ER, 3 BB, 3 K) and he didn't pitch well at Cal Poly last week (6 2/3 IP, 7 H, 7 R, 6 ER, 4 BB, 3 K).  He focuses on sinking his fastball to pitch to contact and get ground balls and only allowed one HR in his first nine starts before giving up an HR at Cal Poly.

SAT – Soph #17 Kyle Crawford (LHP – 2-6, 6.87 ERA, 12 apps, 11 GS, 1 CG, 58 IP, 73 H, 21 BB, 26 K, .307 AVG, 2 HR, 9 HBP, 3 WP, 7-10 SB.  '11 – 1-2, 10.00 ERA, 15 apps, 3 GS, 18 IP, 29 H, 6 BB, 6 K, .392 AVG, 2 HR, 2 HBP, 1 WP, 2-3 SB) was a middle reliever in 2011 and has kept his spot in the rotation primarily due to an injury to John Haberman and Pacific not having too many other options.  He had a stretch of four starts where he averaged seven innings per start with a 4.40 ERA, including a solid outing at Irvine (7 1/3 IP, 7 H, 3 R, 1 BB, 4 K), but has been bad over his last four starts and only thrown fourteen innings and has allowed 20 runs on 23 hits with ten walks and two strikeouts so he figures to be on a short leash this weekend.  Crawford is a crafty lefty who has to keep the ball down, which he has been able to do most of the time and allowed his first two HR's of the season at Cal Poly.  He pitches inside to keep hitters away from his off-speed pitches and has hit nine batters.

SUN – FR #16 Michael Hager (RHP – 3-4, 4.67 ERA, 14 apps, 8 GS, 62 IP, 80 H, 9 BB, 24 K, .327 AVG, 3 HR, 5 HBP, 6 WP, 3-9 SB) is a strike throwing control specialist and is among the national leaders in BB/9 IP ratio.  He was working out of the bullpen earlier in the season with a 9.00 ERA in six appearances but the light bulb went on when he was moved into the rotation and he allowed one run in eight innings in a win at Gonzaga.  Hager had a poor start at Irvine (6 IP, 14 H, 6 R, 0 BB, 3 K) but turned it around and didn't allow a run in fifteen innings against San Jose State and UC Davis.  He has struggled the last two weeks against good hitting UCSB and Cal Poly teams and allowed 12 R (9 ER) on 21 H in 12 2/3 IP.

 

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 and primary set-up man and they have both started to falter recently.

Closer – SR #30 John Prato Matthews (RHP – 2-5, 3.28 ERA, 3 saves, 19 apps, 36 IP, 33 H, 4 BB, 23 K, .254 AVG, 3 HR, 12 HBP, 2 WP, 4-4 SB.  '11 – 0-4, 11.92 ERA, 1 save, 11 apps, 4 GS, 26 IP, 44 H, 12 BB, 14 K, .376 AVG, 2 HR, 9 HBP, 3 WP, 6-8 SB) is a strike thrower who is sixth in the Big West in appearances.  He will pitch inside often and leads the conference with 12 HBP's.  Prato Matthews had his ERA in the low 2's going into last week when he allowed five runs in two innings at Cal Poly.  He started one of the games at Fullerton in 2011 and allowed 7 R (5 ER) on 10 H in 4 2/3 IP.

SR #19 Joe Spizzirri (LHP – 0-2, 5.13 ERA, 13 apps, 26 IP, 22 H, 16 BB, 20 K, .234 AVG, 0 HR, 8 HBP, 4 WP, 2-5 SB) has been tough to hit, especially for LH hitters, because he has been so wild and averages a free base per inning via BB's and HBP's.  He had an ERA in the low 3's after his first eight appearance but has an ERA around nine in his last five outings.

SR #28 Chris Larsen (RHP – 1-0, 6.63 ERA, 13 apps, 19 IP, 34 H, 10 BB, 8 K, .405 AVG, 2 HR, 0 HBP, 1 WP, 1-2 SB.  '11 – 1-3, 4.58 ERA, 5 saves, 17 apps, 39 IP, 44 H, 7 BB, 13 K, .278 AVG, 5 HR, 6 HBP, 4 WP, 6-7 SB) was the closer in 2011 despite not being a hard thrower and having to rely on control and spotting his mid 80's fastball to get hitters out.  His control hasn't been nearly as good this season and he has been getting hit hard.

Other RHP's in the bullpen are SR #35 Jared Wagner (RHP – 0-1, 5.14 ERA, 9 apps, 14 IP, 18 H, 4 BB, 5 K, .316 AVG, 0 HR, 2 HBP, 2 WP, 1-2 SB.  '11 – 0-4, 6.03 ERA, 21 apps, 2 GS, 37 IP, 48 H, 25 BB, 20 K, .318 BA, 0 HR, 7 HBP, 7 WP, 9-11 SB), FR #36 Bryce Lombardi (0-1, 8.22 ERA, 14 apps, 2 GS, 23 IP, 29 H, 12 BB, 10 K, .322 AVG, 1 HR, 5 HBP, 5 WP, 7-7 SB) and SR #29 Thomas Berolzheimer (RHP – 0-1, 6.57 ERA, 13 apps, 12 IP, 18 H, 5 BB, 11 K, .310 AVG, 0 HR, 5 HBP, 0 WP, 2-2 SB.  '11 – Medical redshirt).

The LHP's in the bullpen are JC transfer #37 Travis Lumby (1-3, 7.65 ERA, 9 apps, 5 GS, 20 IP, 25 H, 17 BB, 13 K, .301 AVG, 3 HR, 2 HBP, 3 WP, 3-5 SB) and Soph #39 Paul Moeller (0-1, 12.38 ERA, 9 apps, 8 IP, 17 H, 5 BB, 4 K, .436 AVG, 2 HR, 3 HBP, 5 WP, 2-2 SB)

 

Outlook

Fullerton enters this series playing well on weekends after winning their ninth straight weekend series against Cal Poly two weeks ago.  Pacific has lost their last five weekend series and been swept in three of them.

Fullerton has started to hit the ball more consistently during the Big West schedule and they are hitting just under .300 in conference games.  After starting to hit better in the middle of the season, Pacific has started to struggle with their offense in Big West games, where they are hitting in the .220's and averaging less than three runs per game.

Fullerton's pitching has surged to the front of the Big West in team ERA as the young staff has improved, although they struggled in allowing 25 runs in five games before getting the weekend off and they bounced back by holding USC to two runs.  Pacific's pitching was improving before getting knocked around by UCSB and Cal Poly the last two weekends.

Pacific won't be intimidated by seeing Fullerton across the field from them and the Tigers, along with Irvine, have had more success against the Titans than any other Big West teams over the last three seasons with four wins.  With their nothing to lose attitude and aggressive style at the plate it wouldn't be a surprise if Pacific battled Fullerton this weekend but the Titans should win the series and if they are on their game there is a good chance for Fullerton to sweep this series.