Baseball Preview: UCSB

UCSB almost qualified for a regional in 2008 when they were one of the last teams left out of the field after finishing tied for 3rd in the Big West but slid back to mediocrity after that by going 28-23 (11-13, 5th) in 2009, 23-30 (10-14, 5th) in 2010 and 26-26, 10-14 (6th) in 2011 with a very experienced team.

Fullerton returned to action after taking the weekend off due to a bye in the Big West schedule with a midweek game at Goodwin Field against USC before hitting the road to play Pacific last weekend.  The Titans won all four games last week with a 4-2 win against the Trojans before sweeping the Tigers 5-2, 21-4 and 10-0 to move one game ahead of Long Beach in the conference standings in Fullerton's last visit to Stockton before Pacific leaves the Big West after the 2013 season.

Fullerton only had six hits against USC 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 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, over the first four innings before they took the lead with two runs in the fifth when Carlos Lopez walked, Michael Lorenzen doubled him to third, Lopez scored on Anthony Hutting's ground out to tie the game and Lorenzen scored on J.D. Davis' ground out.  Fullerton put the game out of reach with two runs in the sixth when Richy Pedroza and Ivory 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, Koby 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 got off to a lead in Friday's game when Hutting led off the second with a double and Matt Chapman singled him in.  The Titans held the 1-0 lead until the fifth when Pacific got to Dylan Floro for two runs on three hits.  Fullerton came right back to tie the game in the sixth when Hutting led off the inning with a HBP, J.D. Davis walked and Anthony Trajano's RBI single tied things up.  The Titans took the lead for good with three runs in the eighth when the wheels fell off for the Tigers on defense.  Hutting got things started again with a walk, Chapman bunted him to second, J.D. Davis hit a blooper that should have been caught but fell in and the runners moved up on an errant throw in from CF, Hutting and Davis scored on Trajano's fielder's choice grounder when Hutting's hard slide dislodged the ball from the catcher's glove (with the catcher leaving the game with an arm injury) with Trajano advancing to second on the play and he scored on back to back wild pitches that the backup catcher couldn't keep in front of him.  Floro threw a complete game in his return to the area where he is from and held Pacific to two runs on five hits with two walks and seven strikeouts to improve to 7-3 in front of many friends and family members.  Pedroza had three hits, Thomas had two hits and Chapman had two hits, a run and an RBI to lead the Titans offense.

Pacific came into the series a pretty banged up team and was even more shorthanded after losing two more players in Friday's game and Fullerton took advantage of those injuries to bludgeon the Tigers over the next two games.  The Titans scored in every inning on Saturday except for the fifth on their way to scoring 21 runs on 21 hits and got things started with three runs in the first when Pedroza led off with a double, Thomas reached base on an error, a wild pitch moved them up and Lopez singled them in, Lopez stole second and Hutting drove him in.  Allen Riley hit a two run HR in the bottom of the inning for Pacific off of Kenny Mathews before the Titans extended the lead to 9-2 with a run in the second, two runs in the third and three runs in the fourth.   Trajano singled to lead off the second, Casey Watkins bunted him over and Thomas singled him in.  Lorenzen doubled to lead off the third, Hutting walked and Davis doubled them both in.  Thomas walked, Lorenzen singled, Thomas scored on a wild pitch, Chapman singled in Lorenzen, Chapman moved up on a wild pitch and Hutting singled him in for the three runs for Fullerton in the fourth and the rout was on.  The Titans continued to hammer the Pacific bullpen and scored eleven runs over the last three innings with Lopez topping things off with a grand slam.  Mathews picked up the win to improve to 5-0 with seven solid innings and allowed three runs on three hits with no walks and two strikeouts.  Fourteen Titans either got a hit, scored a run or drove in a run with Lorenzen, Chapman, and Watkins each getting three hits, Hutting driving in three runs, Davis and Matt Orloff both driving in two runs and Lopez driving in six runs on his way to winning Big West player of the week honors.

Pacific was pretty demoralized after the first two games and Fullerton jumped all over them to get out to a 7-0 lead after three innings and coasted from there.  Thomas singled, Lopez doubled him in and Hutting singled in Lopez to get the Titans out to a 2-0 lead in the first, Orloff and Jared Deacon got the second started off with singles, Pedroza bunted them over, Thomas was hit by a pitch, Lopez doubled in two runs, Lorenzen's ground out scored a run and Hutting's single scored another run and the rout was on once again with Fullerton leading 6-0 after two innings.  Two out singles in the third by Deacon, Pedroza and Thomas scored a run to increase the lead to 7-0 and a run in the fifth and two runs in the ninth wrapped up the scoring.  Grahamm Wiest was the beneficiary of another outburst by the offense and pitched a complete game shutout, allowing only three hits and one walk with four strikeouts to improve his record to 4-3.  Pedroza led the seventeen hit attack with three hits and two runs, Lopez had two hits and three RBI, Hutting had two hits and two RBI and Thomas, Orloff and Deacon each had two hits and scored two runs with Thomas also driving in a run.

Fullerton didn't have a midweek game this week and the Titans will be going back on the road for the second straight weekend with a drive up the 101 to play UCSB.  The Gauchos have a new coaching staff and a new outlook as the program looks to get out of the malaise it has been in for the better part of a decade.  UCSB won't be going to a regional this season but they have been playing hard every weekend and they would like nothing better than to pull off an upset against Fullerton to make their mark on the conference standings.   

 

UC Santa Barbara Gauchos          

  • Overall Record – 23-22
  • Conference Record – 9-9 (5th)
  • Overall and conference record in 2011 – 26-26, 10-14 (6th, tied)
  • Post-Season – None
  • 2012 RPI/ISR – 134/76.  2011 RPI/ISR – 138/83
  • Current ranking – None
  • Predicted conf finish – 6th by the Big West coaches and Perfect Game, 7th by Baseball America and Easton College Baseball

 

2011 Summary and 2012 Preview

UCSB almost qualified for a regional in 2008 when they were one of the last teams left out of the field after finishing tied for 3rd in the Big West but slid back to mediocrity after that by going 28-23 (11-13, 5th) in 2009, 23-30 (10-14, 5th) in 2010 and 26-26, 10-14 (6th) in 2011 with a very experienced team.  The Gauchos played well at home where they won six of their eight series but they were bad on the road and lost all six series away from Goleta before winning their final road series at UC Davis.  The result of failing to qualify for a regional for the tenth straight season was a coaching change with longtime head coach Bob Brontsema being replaced by former UC Riverside and Oregon pitching coach Andrew Checketts so there is a new level of excitement in the UCSB program that hasn't been seen for a while.

UCSB had the worst offense in the Big West in 2010 despite playing in one of the more favorable hitting parks in the conference but their offense was a little better in 2011 and they finished in the middle of the pack in most offensive categories.  The Gauchos tended to play for the big inning and didn't play much little ball with two players accounting for 30 of their 42 SB's and they were next to last in the Big West in SAC's.  UCSB was aggressive at the plate and averaged just under three walks per game while leading the conference in strikeouts.

UCSB had ERA's over 5.00 in 2009-2010 but had an experienced staff that pitched better with the new BBCOR bats helping them to bring their ERA down almost two runs per game to 3.63 in 2011.  The Gauchos had eight of their ten pitchers seeing regular action keep their ERA's under 4.00 but their weekend rotation was inconsistent due to the lack of power arms (second fewest strikeouts in the Big West) but most of their pitchers had solid control and they averaged three walks per game.  UCSB's ground ball throwing staff did a good job of limiting teams to mostly hitting singles and was third in the conference in SLG.

UCSB has been an inconsistent team in 2012 that lost four of their six non-conference series but swept the other two.  They lost three of four at home to Oregon State, swept San Jose State on the road, lost series vs. LMU and at Nevada, swept Rhode Island at home and lost their series at USF.  The Gauchos won their first two conference series at home against Riverside and Northridge, were swept at Long Beach, swept Pacific in Stockton and won their series at home against UC Davis before getting swept last weekend at Irvine.

UCSB has been playing a new style of ball that is geared towards attacking teams both at the plate and on the bases.  The Gauchos are very aggressive with the running game and lead the Big West both in SB's as well as CS.  UCSB will also bunt runners over often and is second in the conference in SAC's.  The Gauchos have been much better on offense and are second in the Big West in scoring and SLG and have been much more patient at the plate while cutting down on their strikeouts.  UCSB's offense has been much better at home (.293 AVG, 6.4 RPG, 13 HR) than on the road (.249 AVG, 4.3 RPG, 3 HR).  The Gauchos offense was better in non-conference games (.287 AVG, 6.0 RPG) while having their issues in Big West games (.250 AVG, 4.6 RPG).  UCSB's offense was held to fourteen runs in the sweeps at Long Beach and Irvine.

UCSB's pitching philosophy has also been much different with Checketts' coaching a mostly new group of pitchers.  This year's staff has been a power throwing group and the Gauchos have gone from finishing near the bottom of the Big West in strikeouts to leading the conference.  UCSB has also had much more trouble throwing strikes than they did in 2011 and they have walked more hitters and hit more batters than anybody else in the Big West.  The Gauchos power arms have been tough to hit and they are second in the conference in AVG and third in SLG.  Despite having an entirely different approach on the mound the end result has been about the same as in 2011 with an almost identical 3.64 staff ERA.

 

Offense

  • Park Factor according to Boyd's World – 115 (increases offense by 15%).  UCSB only plays day games without lights and the winds coming in from the ocean are usually blowing out to LF.
  • Batting Average – .273 (4th in the Big West).  .264 in 2011 (6th in the Big West).
  • Runs Per Game – 243 (2nd), 5.4 runs per game.  239 (7th), 4.6 per game in 2011.
  • Home Runs – 16 (3rd).  21 in 2011 (3rd). 
  • Slugging Percentage – .372 (2nd).  .370 in 2011 (5th).
  • Walks – 168 (2nd), 3.7 per game.  150 in 2011 (6th), 2.9 per game.
  • HBP's – 52 (4th).  35 in 2011 (8th).
  • Strikeouts – 251 (5th), 5.6 per game.  394 in 2011 (1st), 7.6 per game.
  • Stolen Bases – 49-80 (1st).  42-67 in 2011 (6th). 
  • Sac Bunts – 51 (2nd).  36 in 2011 (8th).

 

Infield

UCSB returned an experienced infield with players returning at four of the positions with the only players that were lost being 1B Trevor Whyte and 1st team All-Big West 2B Sean Williams. 

C – SR #25 Bryce Tafelski (RH – .277/.362/.377, 0-11-0.  '11 – .313 in 48 AB's), Soph #20 Joe Winterburn (RH – .143/.292/.271, 2-12-1.  '11 – .227 in 66 AB's) and FR #35 Campbell Wear (RH – 1-36) have all been taking turns behind the plate in a similar platoon situation to 2011, with Wear replacing Dan Camou.  Tafelski and Winterburn were splitting time earlier when Tafelski was hitting well with a 21-51 start to the year but he started slumping and has gone 1-25 in Big West games and missed three weeks with an injury before returning at Irvine.  Winterburn and Wear have combined to hit only .104 in 106 AB's.  Tafelski hit sixth both times he was in the lineup last weekend while Winterburn and Wear will usually hit at the bottom of the order.

1B – JC transfer #9 Marc Venning (RH – .266/.322/.381, 1-20-2) took over for two year starter Trevor Whyte, who was second on the team in HR and RBI.  He hit only .192 over the first sixteen games before heating up and hitting .400 over the next ten games and has leveled off, hitting .254 in Big West games.  Even though he usually hits anywhere from 4th-7th in the lineup, he has often been asked to bunt and is second on the team with six SAC's.  He plays 1B most of the time but will occasionally play 3B.

DH/1B – FR #11 Greg Mahle (LH – .322/.401/.342, 0-25-0) has played some 1B but has been the DH more lately with his increased role as a pitcher.  He got off to a red hot start and was hitting .388 with 22 RBI after the first 30 games but has cooled off since then and only hit .196 since then and is hitting .219 in Big West games.  Mahle is still putting together good AB's and has a strong 18/12 BB/K ratio.  He will usually be hitting 5th.

2B – Soph #16 Brandon Trinkwon (LH – .344/.477/.490, 2-27-5.  '11 – .253/.318/.329, 1-6-0) platooned at SS in 2011 before he missed most of the last part of the season when a batted ball hit him in the face and fractured several bones.  He took over for Sean Williams, who was among the Big West leaders in several hitting categories, and his production has been even better and he in in the top ten in the conference in AVG, SLG, OBP, R, H, RBI and TB and leads the Big West in walks.  Trinkwon hits third and is a very patient hitter with an outstanding 38/23 BB/K ratio.  He was hitting .393 after 30 games but went into an 8-44 skid before getting four hits last Sunday at Irvine.  Trinkwon producing at the plate is a big key to the UCSB offense and he leads the team with a .348 AVG in conference games.  He went 3-8 last season at Fullerton.  He will occasionally slide over to SS and when he does, FR #3 Peter Maris (LH – .155 in 58 AB's) will start at 2B.

SS – JR #3 Steven Moon (RH – .179/.293/.269, 1-9-2.  '11 – .256/.295/.355, 0-18-0; '10 – 1-19) was the starter most of the second half of 2011 after Trinkwon's injury but wasn't playing much earlier in the season while dealing with some injuries and got off to a terrible 1-22 start.  Moon got back into the lineup on a regular basis against Northridge, when he went 5-10, and has hit .245 in Big West games with an HR and 7 RBI.  He will often be asked to bunt and had 8 SAC's in 2011 and has four this season.  Moon will be hitting in the bottom of the order and is in the lineup more for his glove than his bat.  He does a good job of working counts and has a solid 11/15 BB/K ratio.  Moon went 0-3 at Fullerton in 2011.  

3B – SR #17 Ryan Palermo (RH – .257/.327/.386, 3-18-2.  '11 – .278/.328/.364, 0-25-1; ‘10 – .245/.311/.377, 3-25-0) is in his third year as a starter and was honorable mention All-Big West last season.  He has some pop in his bat and was in the top ten in the Big West in 2B's in 2011 and is tied for 7th in the conference with 3 HR's.  Palermo has poor plate discipline with a 12/38 BB/K ratio and is second in the conference in strikeouts.  He will usually be hitting 6th or 7th.  Palermo went 2-9 against Fullerton in 2011 and is 4-19 in his career against the Titans.

 

Outfield

UCSB returned only one regular OF from 2011 with the major loss to the lineup coming due to 1st team All-Big West RF Mark Haddow moving on.  A part-time starter and a JC transfer have moved into the lineup and given UCSB one of the better OF's in the conference.

LF – SR #10 Lance Roenicke (RH – .304/.362/.458, 3-26-7.  '11 – .190/.269/.250, 0-5-1; '10 – .196 in 51 AB's) split time between DH and LF in 2011 but has been the regular LF and has had a productive season and is in the top ten in the Big West in R, HR, RBI, TB, SLG and 2B.  He doesn't mind doing some of the dirty work while hitting 2nd and leads the team with 12 HBP's (3rd in the conference) and leads the Big West with 14 SAC's.  Roenicke has poor plate discipline with a 5/32 BB/K ratio and is in the top ten in the Big West in strikeouts.  He has good speed and is 10th in the conference with seven SB's but leads the Big West with 8 CS.  Roenicke was red hot to start the season and hit .365 in the first 19 games and has hit .255 since then with a .268 AVG in conference games.  He went 2-11 at Fullerton in 2011.

CF – JC transfer #2 Brett Vertigan (LH – .371/.446/.515, 1-23-17) has been a revelation as the leadoff hitter and a threat to make something happen every time he steps to the plate or gets on base.  He leads the Big West in AVG, R, H and 3B and is second in OBP, SLG and TB.  Vertigan stormed out to a .424 start over the first 22 games before hitting a more mortal .316 over the last 23 games and is hitting .319 in conference games.  He will make pitchers work and has an outstanding 21/14 BB/K ratio and is in the top ten in the Big West in walks.  Vertigan has very good speed and is very aggressive on the bases, leading the conference with 17 SB's and is second with 7 CS.  It isn't a coincidence that Irvine and Long Beach had success in holding down UCSB's offense when they kept him off base most of the time and he only went 6-25 in those two series.

SR #24 Joe Wallace (RH – .252/.343/.351, 3-18-11.  '11 – .222/.285/.333, 4-28-14) played LF in 2011 but had the unenviable task of taking over in RF for Mark Haddow, who was one of the best hitters in the Big West.  He is a good athlete with a good power/speed combo and was in the top ten in the Big West in HR and SB each of the last two seasons.  Wallace led the team and was 3rd in the conference in 2011 with 49 K's but has done a much better job of putting the ball in play and has a decent 13/20 BB/K ratio.  He got off to a solid start but has only hit .200 over the last 19 games and is hitting .224 in Big West games.  Wallace went 3-11 with two RBI at Fullerton in 2011.

 

Defense

Fielding % – .965 (5th) with 57 errors.  2011 – .971 (3rd) with 58 errors.  UCSB plays on an uneven playing surface that is known for being difficult for infielders to get true bounces on grounders.  Their defense was unsettled earlier in the season and allowed 38 unearned runs in non-conf games but they have improved quite a bit and fielded .979 in conf games and allowed only seven unearned runs.  Venning is solid at 1B, Trinkwon and Moon are a good combo up the middle and Palermo is average at 3B.  UCSB leads the Big West with 50 DP's.  Roenicke, Vertigan and Wallace are a very good OF with good speed and good arms. 

Stolen Base Attempts – 32-52 (7th).  2011 – 31-53 (2nd).  UCSB has done as good of a job against the running game this season with runners going 19-25 against Winterburn and 9-14 against Wear but they are only 3-6 running on Tafelski.  The Gauchos pitchers will throw to first often and lead the Big West with 12 balks.

WP's/PB's Allowed – 63 (9th).  2011 – 31 (1st).  UCSB's catchers have done a poor job of keeping the ball in front of them after being the best group in the conference last season. 

 

Pitching

  • ERA – 3.64 (5th).  3.63 in 2011 (6th in the Big West).
  • AVG – .251 (2nd).  .258 in 2011 (4th).
  • Walks – 206 (9th), 4.6 BB/9 IP.  152 (3rd), 3.0 BB/9 IP in 2011.
  • HBP – 76 (1st).  67 in 2011 (2nd).
  • OBP – .371 (7th).  .346 in 2011 (6th).
  • Strikeouts – 361 (1st), 8.0 K/9 IP.  285 (8th), 5.6 K/9 IP in 2011.
  • SLG – .326 (3rd).  .334 (3rd) in 2011.
  • HR – 12 (3rd).  15 HR in 2011 (5th).

 

Starters

UCSB had an experienced rotation in 2011 with SR's starting 35 of the 52 games and all four of them had an ERA under 4.00.  The Gauchos only had one SP returning and he was moved to the bullpen once Big West play started and they have been relying on two FR most of the season on Fri's and Sat's and figure to start all LHP's this weekend.  

FRI – SR #44 Kevin Gelinas (LHP – 2-1, 1.69 ERA, 10 apps, 4 GS, 27 IP, 16 H, 10 BB, 26K, .182 AVG, 0 HR, 5 HBP, 2 WP, 5-7 SB.  '11 – 4 apps, 2 2/3 IP.  '10 – 4 apps, 5 IP) is a talented big guy who has already been drafted twice but hasn't been able to stay healthy and only made eight relief appearances in 2010-2011 before injuries ended each season prematurely.  He made starts in each of the first two weekend series, allowing two runs in 11 1/3 IP, before having to sit out the next six weeks with arm soreness.  Gelinas returned for the Long Beach series and threw ten innings over seven appearances, allowing only one run, before making a surprise start last Friday at Irvine.  He threw well for the first four innings before he tired in the fifth inning (5 IP, 6 H, 2 R, 3 BB, 3 K) and relied primarily on a fastball that sat around 90 and a changeup with a few spike curveballs in two strike counts.  Gelinas figures to be on a pitch count again this weekend and isn't likely to go more than 5-6 innings.

SAT – FR #13 Andrew Vasquez (LHP – 6-4, 1.71 ERA, 12 GS, 74 IP, 50 H, 45 BB, 86 K, .198 AVG, 1 HR, 13 HBP, 10 WP, 7-9 SB) has been the Friday SP most of the season before moving back a day last weekend at Irvine.  He has been a force since stepping foot on campus and has been one of the best SP's in the conference and is a heavy favorite to win the Big West FR pitcher of the year award and is a contender for the conference pitcher of the year honors.  Vasquez leads the conference in ERA and strikeouts and is in the top ten in wins, IP and AVG.   He had five starts in the middle of the season where he allowed only four runs (3 ER) in 32 1/3 IP before struggling a bit against Long Beach (4 R on 7 H in 5 1/3 IP) and a much healthier Pacific team than Fullerton faced (6 IP, 4 H, 3 R, 2 ER, 4 BB, 7 K) before bouncing back to beat UC Davis two weeks ago (7 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 5 BB, 8 K) and suffering a tough loss at Irvine (6 1/3 IP, 6 H, 1 R, 5 BB, 5 K).  Vasquez is a big guy and a hard thrower with a low 90's fastball and a breaking pitch to strike out hitters but he tends to have control issues and has walked at least four batters in seven of his starts and is second in the Big West in walks, leads the conference in HBP's and is third in WP's.  He will throw to first often to keep runners close and leads the Big West with six balks but once they get a jump they are likely to be successful due to his high leg kick.

SUN – SR #21 Zak Edgington (LHP – 2-4, 3.23 ERA, 17 apps, 7 GS, 1 save, 61 IP, 54 H, 30 BB, 42 K, .240 BA, 0 HR, 12 HBP, 5 WP, 4-6 SB.  '11 – 0-0, 3.10 ERA, 9 apps, 2 GS, 20 IP, 19 H, 6 BB, 9 K, .253 AVG, 0 HR, 2 HBP, 1 WP, 0-0 SB) was mostly a middle reliever in 2011 except for an eight inning midweek start at Northridge and he only made one more appearance after that game the rest of the season.  He allowed 14 R (8 ER) in 24 2/3 IP in ten appearances during the non-conference schedule before he made a midweek start against Pepperdine (5 IP, 4 H, 3 R, 0 ER) and has been in the rotation for all six conference series.  Edgington is 1-2 in Big West games with a 3.44 ERA.  He allowed one ER in his starts against Riverside, Pacific and UC Davis but lost his starts against Northridge (5 1/3 IP, 5 H, 4 R, 3 ER, 3 BB, 3 K), Long Beach (5 1/3 IP, 4 H, 3 R, 3 BB, 5 K) and Irvine (4 1/3 IP, 5 H, 5 R, 3 BB, 1 K) when he started losing command of his pitches.  Edgington's best pitch is his changeup and he has to spot his mid-upper 80's fastball and runs into trouble when he doesn't.  He has walked at least three hitters in five of his starts and is tied for second in the Big West with 12 HBP's.

Relievers

 

UCSB lost their first six pitchers in appearances from 2011 so the bullpen also had to be rebuilt.  The one experienced pitcher in the bullpen was a starter last year and for the non-conference part of the schedule this season and the Gauchos have been relying on a four man bullpen.

FR #34 Austin Pettibone (RHP – 6-3, 4.36 ERA, 13 apps, 11 GS, 1 save, 66 IP, 85 H, 20 BB, 30 K, .328 BA, 3 HR, 1 HBP, 4 WP, 2-6 SB) started in all eleven series before being bumped to the bullpen at Irvine when Gelinas started in his place.  He has good control and walked no more than two hitters in seven of his last eight starts and was sharp out of the bullpen at Irvine when he retired all nine batters he faced in relief of Gelinas.  After losing his first Big West start against Riverside (4 2/3 IP, 9 H, 4 R, 3 ER, 1 BB, 5 K), Pettibone was 2-0 with a ND and a 2.84 ERA in his next three starts against Northridge, Long Beach and Pacific before he had a poor outing against UC Davis (3 1/3 IP, 10 H, 4 R, 3 ER, 0 BB, 2 K) and was moved to the bullpen last weekend.  He relies on getting good sinking action on his fastball to get hitters to pound the ball into the ground to get them out.

FR #11 Greg Mahle (LHP – 2-3, 3.48 ERA, 16 apps, 3 GS, 4 saves, 41 IP, 34 H, 16 BB, 39K, .236 AVG, 1 HR, 12 HBP, 2 WP, 3-3 SB) has been one of the main options used late in games and leads the team in saves although UCSB doesn't really have a designated closer and plays matchups at the end of games.  He can go several innings without a problem and has gone six innings in two midweek starts.  Mahle is the only LHP out of the bullpen and can be tough on LH hitters because they have trouble picking up the ball coming out of his hand due to his short arm delivery.  He has been throwing well and has only allowed two runs in his last 14 IP.

SR #27 Matthew Vedo (RHP – 4-4, 4.73 ERA, 21 apps, 8 GS, 65 IP, 50 H, 48 BB, 82 K, .216 AVG, 1 HR, 12 HBP, 14 WP, 9-14 SB.  '11 – 6-6, 4.32 ERA, 16 apps, 14 GS, 3 CG, 1 save, 85 IP, 73 H, 38 BB, 64 K, .240 BA, 3 HR, 20 HBP, 4 WP, 2-7 SB) has a live arm but he often has trouble controlling his stuff with a low 90's fastball and a very good slider that he uses as his strikeout pitch and he is second in the Big West in K's.  He led the Big West in HBP's in 2011 and is second this season and leads the conference in walks.  Vedo made starts in five of the six non-conference series and had an 8.18 ERA in 22 IP with 27 BB's and 26 K's.  He has been better since being moved into a middle relief and midweek SP role with a 3.00 ERA with a 4.5 BB/9 IP rate and an outstanding 12.9 K/9 IP rate. 

JC transfer #22 Jared Wilson (RHP – 0-0, 2.73 ERA, 20 apps, 1 save, 30 IP, 26 H, 19 BB, 25 K, .236 AVG, 3 HR, 8 HBP, 3 WP, 3-4 SB) has been the other option out of the bullpen and usually isn't asked to go more than an inning or two.  Like most of his teammates, he also has control issues and has averaged almost a free runner per inning.  He can be tough to hit but when his pitches straighten out they can leave the yard.

Outlook

Fullerton responded well to the challenge of playing outside of the area last weekend for the first time in almost two months and after a struggle on Friday they put the pedal to the metal the next two days.  UCSB lost their first two series at home this season but they have gone 9-3 in winning their last four series at home.

After having issues with getting consistent offensive production for most of the season, Fullerton's offense has started to heat up and the Titans have scored at least five runs in ten of the last eleven games. UCSB's offense is much better this season and they have been putting up a good amount of runs at home in a ballpark that favors the offense but they have started to have trouble scoring runs in conference games.

Fullerton's pitching staff has been pretty consistent and a big reason why the Titans have won ten straight series and they lead the Big West in ERA.  They had a brief blip when they allowed 26 runs over five games going into their weekend off but the pitching staff was much sharper last week and allowed only eight runs in four games.  UCSB's group of power arms have been improving over the course of the season and they have allowed only two runs seven times in the last nine games so runs could be hard to come by for Fullerton, especially with the Titans tending to have issues with scoring runs against LHP's.

Fullerton has been battle tested throughout the season and looks like a team that is peaking at the right time and is focused on winning another conference title and getting ready for the post-season.  UCSB has won four of their six conference series but had trouble generating offense against Long Beach and Irvine, which is the reason why they fell out of the conference race.  This figures to be a close and hard fought series but if Fullerton continues to find ways to win games like they have every weekend since the opening series at Florida the Titans should be able to scratch out a series win.