Baseball Preview: Oral Roberts

Cal State Fullerton has opened up the 2013 season with the best start in the history of the program by winning their first ten games, beating three teams to win all four games opening weekend, sweeping TCU in Fort Worth and winning the first two games of the series against Oregon before finally losing their first game of the season.

The Titans losing streak reached two games when they got the week started by losing 7-3 in their first game at San Diego's new ballpark before bouncing back and winning at USC 11-4.  Fullerton played their second straight weekend series at Goodwin Field and things got off to a tough start against Texas A&M with a 6-1 loss before the Titans bounced back to win the second game 2-0 and nearly blew a 6-0 lead in holding off the Aggies 7-6 in the final game to win the series.

National home run leader Kris Bryant welcomed Fullerton to the sparkling new Fowler Park with a two run HR blast in the first inning for San Diego.  Fullerton tied things up in the fourth when Matt Chapman tripled, J.D. Davis singled him in and Michael Lorenzen tripled in Davis.  Things went downhill from there when Connor Joe hit a HR off of starting pitcher Davis to break the tie and the Toreros scored two more runs in the inning and Bryant finished things off with another two run HR in the sixth.  The only highlight of the last five innings for Fullerton was Austin Kingsolver hitting his first career HR in the ninth.  The Titans pitching staff uncharacteristically walked six batters and hit another and three of them ended up scoring.

Fullerton came out determined to end their two game losing streak on Wednesday and jumped all over the USC pitching staff for three runs in the first inning and five more in the second to put the game away early.  Richy Pedroza started the game by reaching first on an error, Carlos Lopez doubled him in, Chapman walked, Anthony Hutting singled in Lopez and Lorenzen singled in Chapman.  Keegan Dale and Lopez got things started in the second with singles, Chapman doubled in Dale and Chad Wallach followed with a two RBI single, Hutting walked and Lorenzen hit a two run triple to finish off the scoring in the inning.  Fullerton's onslaught continued in the fourth when Wallach singled and Hutting hit his third HR of the season to increase the lead to 10-0.  Koby Gauna was the beneficiary of all of the scoring, throwing five scoreless innings and allowing three hits with no walks and five strikeouts in improving his record to 2-0 before the bullpen allowed two runs in each of the sixth and seventh innings before holding the Trojans off of the scoreboard in the final two innings.

It was a somber mood around Goodwin Field on Friday with the team attending the funeral services for Nick Hurtado earlier in the day and nobody was feeling much better after the game except for Texas A&M after winning the opening game of the series.  Fullerton left runners in scoring position in each of the first three innings before the Aggies scored the first run of the game in the top of the fourth off of Thomas Eshelman.  It looked like the Titans would tie things up in the bottom of the inning when Hutting attempted to score from third when ball four to Wallach went to the backstop but Texas A&M's catcher hustled after the ball and threw Hutting out at the plate.  The Aggies scored another run in the sixth and Fullerton didn't do anything offensively against Texas A&M until starter Kyle Martin was removed with two outs in the seventh after walking Dale, which was Martin's first walk of the game.  The Aggies reliever walked Pedroza and Lopez to load the bases and Texas A&M brought in their closer Jason Jester, who walked Chapman to force in a run and cut the lead to 2-1 before striking out Davis to end the inning.  Jester retired Fullerton in order in the eighth and ninth innings, finishing up with four strikeouts in 2 1/3 IP, and the Aggies scored four runs in the top of the ninth to break things open.  Eshelman pitched well in allowing two runs on four hits over the first eight innings and left the game after the first two batters he faced reached base in the ninth but it wasn't enough as he suffered his first loss as a Titan.

Runs figured to be hard to come by with Justin Garza and Daniel Mengden squaring off on Saturday and that was the case with no runners reaching scoring position until the bottom of the fifth inning when Lorenzen lined a shot off of Mengden's throwing arm for a single but he stayed in the game, Lorenzen stole second and went to third on an error on the throw and scored on Davis' SF.  Fullerton scratched out another run in the sixth on Austin Diemer's infield single, bunt singles by Pedroza and Lopez that loaded the bases and a HBP to Chapman forced in a run to make it 2-0 but the Titans left the bases loaded and failed to increase the lead.  After getting out of a jam and stranding runners at 2nd and 3rd in the sixth, Garza got out of another one in the seventh after the leadoff hitter doubled but was stranded at 3rd.  Gauna and Lorenzen each threw scoreless innings to finish things off with Lorenzen picking up his fourth save.  Garza earned Big West pitcher of the week honors for throwing seven scoreless innings, allowing five hits and one walk with six strikeouts, and improving his record to 4-0.

Sunday's game was much wilder with things getting started when Texas A&M starter Rafael Pineda failed to retire a batter for the second straight start.  He walked four straight North Carolina hitters last week and walked Pedroza, hit Lopez and walked Chapman before being removed.  Hutting walked to force in one run and Jared Deacon walked to force in another run but the scoring ended when Chapman was picked off of third.  The Aggies left the bases loaded against Grahamm Wiest in the top of the second and Fullerton increased the lead to 5-0 in the bottom of the inning when Diemer singled, Pedroza doubled him in, Lopez singled in Pedroza, Chapman and Lorenzen walked and Hutting's fielder's choice ground out scored Lopez but the Titans also left the bases loaded.  Fullerton tacked another run onto their lead in the third on Dale's triple to straight away CF and Pedroza's second double of the game.  Texas A&M cut into the lead with a run in the fourth and three more in the fifth with a diving catch by Lorenzen to end the rally preventing further damage.  The Titans scored a key insurance run in the seventh to increase the lead to 7-4 when Greg Velazquez singled, Deacon's SAC bunt moved pinch-runner David Olmedo-Barrera over and Pedroza singled him in for his third RBI of the game.  Davis had come into the game in relief in the sixth and Gauna relieved him in the eighth after Davis allowed two hits and induced a 5-4-3 DP to end the inning.  Lorenzen came into the game in the ninth to finish things off and for one of the rare times over the last two seasons he was roughed up, allowing the Aggies to get within one run on two singles, a walk and a two RBI single. It looked like Lorenzen had gotten out of the jam with a strike out for the third out but a passed ball on strike three prolonged the inning before Lorenzen got a ground out to leave the bases loaded to pick up his fifth save.  Wiest improved his record to 2-1 after allowing four runs in five innings.

The series against Texas A&M was the first time in four weekends that the Fullerton offense had been stifled for more than one game and it was also part of an ongoing trend where the team didn't hit much but got on base via a ton of walks and HBP's.  The Titans hit .235 with seventeen walks and HBP's at TCU, hit .239 and received nineteen free bases against Oregon and hit .241 against Texas A&M and received nineteen more free bases from the Aggies pitching staff.  Fullerton has been leaving lots of runners on the bases recently because they haven't been cashing in those free runners but if the Titans continue to stay patient at the plate, when they start hitting the ball the offense should take off again.   Fullerton has continued to get solid starting pitching from Eshelman, Garza and Wiest on the weekends and Gauna in midweek games and as long as that keeps up it will be difficult for the team to go into a slump.

After playing eight games in ten days and having to deal with the death of Nick Hurtado, the team needed to take a break for a few days and didn't play a midweek game this week.  The Titans will be on the road this weekend and will be traveling to the heartland of the country for the second time this season and will be playing Oral Roberts, a team that traditionally is playing in the post-season every June but is going through some tough times and looking likely to miss playing in a regional for the first time since the late 90's.


Oral Roberts Golden Eagles (5-10)
  • 2012 Overall Record – 38-25
  • 2012 Conference Record – 17-6 (1st – regular season); Won Summit League Tournament
  • 2012 Post-Season – 3rd in Waco Regional (W vs. Baylor, L vs. Dallas Baptist, L vs. Baylor)
  • Current RPI/ISR – 243/232.  2012 RPI/ISR – 98/103
  • Current and Pre-season rankings – None
  • Predicted conference finish – 3rd by the Southland League coaches, Baseball America, Perfect Game and Easton College Baseball today

2012 Review and 2013 Summary 

Oral Roberts has consistently been one of the better mid-major conference teams over the last decade and has won their conference championship every season since 1998 but this will be a season of change for the program.  Rob Walton was the head coach for nine years and the Golden Eagles averaged 41 wins a season during his tenure, winning a regional in 2006, winning at least one game in a regional in each of the last five years and finishing as the runner-up in a regional twice during that time but Walton decided to move on to be an assistant coach at Oklahoma State and long-time assistant coach Ryan Folmar was promoted to the head coaching position.  Oral Roberts is also moving their program to the Southland Conference, where they won't as big of a fish in a small pond with a higher level of competition within the conference.

Oral Roberts has traditionally challenged themselves with a strong non-conference schedule because they knew that they needed to do that when they were playing in the Summit League in order to be ready for the level of play they would face in the post-season.  The Golden Eagles went 3-10 in series with Baylor, Missouri State and Fullerton and a tournament at Alabama and 1-4 in midweek games with Wichita State, Oklahoma and Arkansas in 2012.  Oral Roberts wasn't as dominant against their conference schedule as they usually are and split the opening series before winning the next five series as they went 19-6 going into the Summit League conference tournament.  The Golden Eagles lost the second game of their conference tournament but only allowed six runs in winning three straight games to wrap up their fifteenth consecutive regional bid.  Oral Roberts upset national seed Baylor in their opening game before losing to Dallas Baptist and Baylor to be eliminated from their regional.

Oral Roberts hasn't played as adventurous of a schedule to start this season due to the increased level of competition they will face in their conference later in the year but that hasn't kept them from getting off to another slow start.  The Golden Eagles opened the season by losing a series at home to Saint Louis, winning series on the road at Louisiana Tech and Southeast Missouri State but dropped both midweek games they played with Wichita State and were swept at home by Dallas Baptist last weekend.  Oral Roberts entered this week on a five game losing streak going into their game at Texas, where they were tied going into the 8th before the Longhorns scored the go ahead run to win 4-3 and extend the Golden Eagles losing streak to six games.

Oral Roberts usually had one of the more powerful offenses in the country before the BBCOR bats were implemented in 2011 and hit at least 75 HR's per season from 2008-2010, including over 100 HR's in 2010.  The Golden Eagles still had a solid offense the past two seasons but their HR totals dropped to 46 in 2011 and 43 last season.  Oral Roberts was only third in the Summit League in 2012 with a .275 AVG but led their conference in scoring, HR's, SLG and OBP and had four players named all-conference, including the player of the year.  The Golden Eagles were very patient at the plate last season and led the Summit League and were in the top 25 nationally in walks.  Oral Roberts did not run much in 2012 and were next to last in their conference in SB's but did bunt runners over quite a bit and led the Summit League and were in the top 40 nationally in SAC's with three players in double digits.

Oral Roberts had a solid pitching staff in 2011 with a 3.50 ERA in the first year with the BBCOR bats being used and they were even better last season with a 3.03 ERA that ranked #13 nationally.  The Golden Eagles had very good pitching across the board and led the Summit League in AVG, BB, WHIP and K/BB ratio and were second in BB/9 IP in the conference.  Oral Roberts had three pitchers named first team all-conference, including the pitcher of the year, and another one on the second team.

Oral Roberts lost three of their best hitters from 2012 so it figured that they would be struggling getting out of the gate and that has been the case with the team hitting under .240 and being held to four runs or less ten times in fifteen games.  The Golden Eagles have a couple of players capable of hitting HR's but for the most part they have tried to generate more scoring by playing little ball by moving runners over and running much more than they did in 2012 and they have better overall team speed because they have only grounded into two double plays.  Oral Roberts is still very patient at the plate and averaging over four walks a game but they are also averaging around seven strikeouts a game.

Oral Roberts expected the pitching staff to be strong once again this season with all four of their starting pitchers returning but they have had some health issues with their rotation and two of their starters are working their way back from injuries.  Despite roles being shifted around with relievers being moved into starting roles and newcomers taking on important roles in the bullpen, things were held together pretty well going into the Dallas Baptist series, allowing four runs in eight of their first twelve games, and the Golden Eagles had a 3.27 ERA before they allowed 21 runs in the final two games.  The pitching staff hasn't been helped by the defense making 24 errors that have contributed to allowing seventeen unearned runs.


Offense
  • Park Factor according to Boyd's World – 99 from 2008-2011 (decreases offense by 1%).  Fairly standard dimensions – 330-375-400-375-330.
  • Batting Average – .239 in 2013 (10th in the Southland, 228th in the NCAA).  .275 in 2012 (3rd in the Summit, 152nd in the NCAA)
  • Runs Per Game – 3.8 in 2013 (10/233).  5.7 in 2012 (1/101)
  • Home Runs – 6 in 2013 (3/88).  43 in 2012 (1/37)
  • Stolen Bases – 13-15 in 2013 (7/159).  33-51 in 2012 (6/250)
  • Slugging Percentage – .316 in 2013 (10/218).  .394 in 2012 (1/96)
  • On Base Percentage – .327 in 2013 (10/222).  .367 in 2012 (1/104)
  • Walks – 55 in 2013, 3.9 per game (6/115).  267 in 2012, 4.2 per game (1/21)
  • HBP's – 9 in 2013 (10/227).  44 in 2012 (6/216)
  • Strikeouts – 99 in 2013, 7.1 per game (5/xx).  369 in 2012, 5.9 per game
  • Sac Bunts – 16 in 2013 (2/28).  67 in 2012 (1/34)

Lineup 

Infield

Oral Roberts has had to do some shuffling around their infield after having their C, 1B and 2B all move on after being first team all-conference players in 2012.

C/2B – Soph #5 Jose Trevino (RH – .245/.369/.408, 2-11-0.  '12 – .317/.358/.573, 13-57-3) tied the single season Texas HS record with 25 HR's and led his team to the state championship and didn't have many issues adjusting to D1 pitching because he led the Summit League in HR's, RBI and SLG and was first team all-conference.  He played for Team USA over the summer, is one of the best prospects in the Southland Conference and figures to be picked in the first 5-10 rounds on the 2014 draft.  Trevino is also a versatile player because he started at 3B in 2012 but has mostly played C this season, taking over for all-conference C Bennett Pickar, and even played 2B in the final two games of the Dallas Baptist series.  Trevino had a below average 17/34 BB/K ratio last season but has had much better plate discipline with a 10/11 ratio.  He was in a 3-24 slump before going 4-13 with an HR and 5 RBI last weekend and leads the team in RBI.  Trevino bats third and is a very dangerous hitter, as Fullerton found out last season when he hit a two run HR in the final game of the series that was the key hit in Oral Roberts 3-0 win and he went 3-12 in the series.

C – FR #38 Sam Parker (RH – 2-9) is the backup to Trevino but started the last two games of the Dallas Baptist series when Trevino moved out to 2B.  Parker batted eighth in both of his starts.

1B – SR #30 Chris Williams (RH – .240/.345/.460, 3-9-0.  '12 – .194 in 36 AB's) didn't play much as a JC transfer last season, starting some games early but rarely playing in conference games (5 AB's) and is taking over for Summit League player of the year Jared Schelhuber.  Williams hit two HR's opening weekend and hit another one the following weekend but has only hit .200 over the last couple of weeks.  Williams is a big man with a big swing with 13 K's but he also has some patience at the plate with eight walks.  He has usually been hitting 5th or 6th.

2B – JC transfer #11 Matt Brandy (RH – .256/.377/.302, 0-8-1) is replacing first team all-conference 2B Cam Schiller and has gotten off to a decent start.  He has some pop in his bat for a middle infielder and has been hitting cleanup.  Brandy has good plate discipline with an excellent 8/6 BB/K ratio.  He missed the final two games of the Dallas Baptist series before returning to the lineup Tuesday at Texas.

SS – SR #16 Nate Goro (RH – .345/.379/.382, 0-2-2.  '12 – .213/.264/.281, 2-30-9) was a JC transfer last season and helped to solidify the defense up the middle, staying in the lineup despite having the lowest average among all of the regulars.  He is one of the few players to get off to a good start, usually hitting 6th or 7th, and leads the team in average but he has to take a big swing to generate any power.  Part of the reason for his struggles at the plate in 2012 was poor plate discipline with a 14/52 BB/K ratio, leading the team in strikeouts, and he has a 2/7 BB/K ratio this season.  Goro has good speed and is a threat to run.  He went 2-12 at Fullerton and struck out five times.

3B – JR #14 Brandon Healy (RH – .200/.351/.233, 0-2-1.  '12 – .274/.401/.310, 0-13-1) saw quite a bit of time at DH and played more as the season went on (he had one pinch-hit appearance at Fullerton) and ended up being on the all-regional team after going 4-5 against Dallas Baptist.  He has taken over at 3B with Trevino moving behind the plate. Healy doesn't have much power with only four extra base hits over the last two seasons. He had good plate discipline with a 19/22 BB/K ratio in 2012 but has struck out 1/3 of the time this season.  Healy is a very good bunter and had 14 SAC's in 2012.  He has been splitting time between 2nd and 9th in the lineup.

Outfield

Things are a little more settled for Oral Roberts in the OF than they are in the infield with two of the starters returning in LF and CF.

LF – Soph #39 Logan Domenico (LH – .237/.333/.271, 0-5-2.  '12 – .312/.457/.370, 0-16-1) didn't play much early as a FR but once he got his chance he took off and ran with it, hitting .368 in conference games.  He will see lots of pitches as the leadoff hitter and walk quite a bit but he will also strike out too much and had a 33/39 BB/K ratio in 2012 and has a 9/13 BB/K ratio this season.  Domenico doesn't have much power and has solid speed and will look to steal when he can.  He went 0-3 in the game he started at Fullerton.

CF – SR #7 Kevin Cho (LH – .191/.283/.234, 0-2-3.  '12 – .250/.352/.277, 0-27-11) transferred in from Orange Coast College and didn't hit much but solidified things in CF as the starter from day one.  He has very good plate discipline with a 33/29 BB/K ratio in 2012 and a 6/7 BB/K ratio thus far.  Cho doesn't have much power with only seven extra base hits over the last two seasons (six 2B's, one 3B) and slaps the ball and runs to get on base.  He has good speed and led the team in SB's and will bunt to beat out hits or move runners over (led the conference with 19 SAC's).  Cho has gotten off to a very slow start and has usually been hitting 7th or 8th.  He hit well at Fullerton with two hits in each of the first two games of the series and went 4-12 against the Titans.

RF – JC transfer #31 Tyler Boss (RH – .255/.314/.468, 1-10-2) has taken over for last year's starter Brandon King and got off to a slow start, hitting .161 over the first couple of weeks, but had a good series against Dallas Baptist and went 5-13 with 3 RBI and drove in all three of their runs on Tuesday with two triples.  He is one of the best athletes on the team with power potential and solid speed and could develop into a very good player.  Boss has usually been hitting in the middle of the lineup.

DH – JC transfer #4 Graham McIntyre (RH – .324/.359/.351, 0-6-1) got off to a hot 7-17 start but has cooled off a little since then, going 5-20.  He doesn't have much power with only one extra base hit and isn't that patient with only one walk but usually makes contact.  McIntyre has started a couple of games in RF but has usually been the DH and split time between 2nd and 9th.


Defense

Fielding % - .961 (6/173) with 22 errors in 2013.   .973 (1/52) in 2012 – 65 errors.

Oral Roberts had solid defense in 2012 but hasn't been as good this season, especially around the infield, and that has led to allowing seventeen unearned runs.  Williams and Brandy have been solid on the left side of the infield, Goro has good range at SS but has been making too many errors and Healy has played poorly at 3B.  Brandy and Goro have done a good job of turning DP's with 16.  Cho has very good range in CF and the corner OF's are solid.

Stolen Base Attempts – 9-16 in 2013.  27-45 in 2012

Pickar had good catch and throw skills and Oral Roberts hasn't skipped a beat with Trevino behind the plate because runners are only 3-9 against him.  Runners are 6-7 against the backups.

WP's/PB's Allowed – 17 in 2013.  43 in 2012.  (4/xx)

Pickar was solid at blocking pitches but Trevino is still a work in progress in that area.


Pitching
  • ERA – 4.01 in 2013 (6/129).  3.03 in 2012 (1/)
  • AVG – .259 in 2013 (7/105), 8.7 H/9 IP.  .243 in 2012 (1/xx).  8.0 H/9 IP was #20 nationally.
  • HR – 9 (10/xx) in 2013.  21 in 2012.
  • SLG – .361 in 2013.  .319 in 2012.
  • Walks – 42 in 2013, 3.1 BB/9 IP (2/69).  178 in 2012, 3.0 BB/9 IP (1/52).
  • HBP – 12 in 2013.  34 HBP in 2012.
  • WHIP – 1.31 in 2013 (4/80).  1.22 in 2012 (1/26).
  • Strikeouts – 84 in 2013, 6.1 K/9 IP (10/200).  434 in 2013, 7.3 K/9 IP (2/67).

Starters

Oral Roberts returns their three best starting pitchers from what was a very strong rotation in 2012 but two of their starters are coming off of injuries and have been on pitch counts in their first two starts.

JR #13 Alex Gonzalez (RHP – 1-3, 1.20 ERA, 4 GS, 30 IP, 24 H, 4 BB, 34 K, .220 AVG, 2 HR, 2 HBP, 3 WP, 0-2 SB. '12 – 6-3, 2.30 ERA, 14 GS, 2 CG, 86 IP, 63 H, 24 BB, 66 K, .205 AVG, 2 HR, 6 HBP, 8 WP, 3-5 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, CG and K.  He had a better ERA and AVG and much better control as a Soph but struck out 40 less batters in 20 less innings after being limited in the first couple weeks of the season due to an injury.  Gonzalez is the best 1-3 pitcher in the country after pitching in tough luck in his four starts.  He allowed three unearned runs in a 4-2 loss to Saint Louis on opening day (8 IP, 5 H, 2 BB, 4 K), allowed two runs in a 2-0 loss at Louisiana Tech (7 IP,  7 H, 1 BB, 11 K), allowed one run in a win at Southeast Missouri State (7 IP, 6 H, 0 BB, 9 K) and allowed three runs with only one earned in a 4-2 loss to Dallas Baptist (8 IP, 6 H, 1 BB, 10 K).  Gonzalez was an 11th round pick out of HS and has a live arm with a low 90's fastball with great sinking action and a power slider and figures to be picked in the first ten rounds in June.  Fullerton didn't have much success against Gonzalez last season when he held the Titans scoreless (7 2/3 IP, 5 H, 1 BB, 6 K) in picking up the Golden Eagles only win of the series.

SR #33 Drew Bowen (RHP – 3-1, 2.65 ERA, 5 GS, 2 CG, 34 IP, 33 H, 10 BB, 23 K, .260 AVG, 2 HR, 1 HBP, 0 WP, 1-1 SB.  '12 – 7-2, 1.95 ERA, 1 save, 14 apps, 13 GS, 4 CG, 88 IP, 78 H, 21 BB, 68 K, .245 AVG, 4 HR, 7 HBP, 5 WP, 3-4 SB) had elbow surgery early in 2010 that forced him to take a medical redshirt and he got off to a late start in 2011 due to the lengthy recovery time from the surgery but was still lights out with a 1.73 ERA for the season and held a strong hitting Oklahoma team scoreless in eight innings in their regional.  He got off to a slow start last season due to some minor arm issues, allowing six runs in his first two starts and missing his start at Fullerton, before coming back and allowing only eleven earned runs in his next ten starts in the regular season for a 1.61 ERA on his way to earning Summit League Pitcher of the Year honors.  Bowen was the MVP of the conference tournament after winning his start and coming back two days later to pick up a save with 2 1/3 scoreless innings in the winner take all game.  He once again had a strong start in a regional and beat national seed Baylor, holding them to two runs in six innings.  Bowen came out of pre-season practice with some soreness and has been on a limited pitch count, throwing two perfect innings in his start two weeks ago at Southeast Missouri State and going four innings last week against Dallas Baptist, allowing two runs on four hits, so he doesn't figure to throw more than 5-6 innings this weekend.  When he is on, Bowen has a fastball that sits around 90 with a good slider.

SR #17 Tim Zufall (RHP – 2-0, 3.10 ERA, 4 apps, 3 GS, 20 IP, 15 H, 7 BB, 5 K, .221 AVG, 0 HR, 3 HBP, 0 WP, 2-4 SB.  '12 – 1-0, 4.95 ERA, 11 apps, 3 GS, 20 IP, 22 H, 12 BB, 15 K, .282 AVG, 2 HR, 1 HBP, 0 WP, 0-0 SB) split time early in 2012 as a two-way player before focusing on pitching as the year went on and has primarily pitched this season with only one AB.  He was mostly a middle reliever last season but has been thrust into the rotation due to injuries to some of the other starters and threw well in his first two starts against Saint Louis (7 IP, 5 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 1 K) and Louisiana Tech (5 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 0 K).  He pitched in relief at Southeast Missouri State but wasn't as sharp (3 1/3 IP, 4 H, 3 R) and did not throw well in his start against Dallas Baptist (5 IP, 5 H, 4 R, 3 BB, 1 K).  He doesn't throw hard and has to rely on control and keeping the ball down and when he doesn't do that he can get hit.

JC transfer #15 Gavin Glanz (RHP – 1-1, 6.75 ERA, 4 apps, 3 GS, 16 IP, 22 H, 5 BB, 11 K, .333 AVG, 2 HR, 1 HBP, 2 WP, 2-3 SB) was also moved into the rotation due to injuries and didn't throw well in a loss against Saint Louis (5 R in 4 1/3 IP) but threw better in a ND at Louisiana Tech (5 IP, 7 H, 2 R) and a win at Southeast Missouri State (6 IP, 6 H, 2 R, 5 K) but went to the bullpen with Bowen returning to the rotation and allowed 3 R in 2/3 IP against Dallas Baptist and will be available in relief this weekend.

JR #34 Kurt Giller (RHP – '12 – 6-4, 3.42 ERA, 16 apps, 14 GS, 2 CG, 84 IP, 64 H, 36 BB, 79 K, .212 AVG, 3 HR, 4 HBP, 7 WP, 5-11 SB) pitched at Nebraska as a FR before sitting out 2011 as a transfer while recovering from elbow surgery and wasn't sharp early in the season, allowing 15 runs in his first 14 innings.  He got much better as the season went on and had a 1.29 ERA in five conference starts on his way to earning first team All-Summit League honors.  Giller had shoulder surgery after the season and has been brought along slowly, making two midweek starts on pitch counts against Wichita State and Texas and allowed one run in six innings.  He started in Bowen's place at Fullerton last season and wasn't sharp in allowing 2 R on 3 H and 3 BB in 3 IP.

Relievers

The bullpen was a strength for Oral Roberts in 2011 and 2012 with five relievers whom they had confidence in going to over the last two seasons but most of those pitchers have moved on, including first team All-Summit League reliever Joe Spring, who threw 75 innings in 28 appearances, so things are in a state of flux with middle relievers from last season along with lots of newcomers being relied on at the end of games with roles still being worked out.

The only returners in relief from 2012 are RHP's SR #21 Alec Smith (0-0, 12.60 ERA, 1 save, 4 apps, 5 IP, 11 H, 1 BB, 3 K.  '12 – 2-1, 2.91 ERA, 1 save, 13 apps, 2 GS, 22 IP, 20 H, 8 BB, 22 K, .256 AVG), Soph #37 Phillip Wilson (0-1, 4.50 ERA, 3 apps, 4 IP, 7 H, 5 R, 2 ER, 0 BB, 1 K. '12 – 1-2, 2.93 ERA, 14 apps, 1 GS, 15 IP, 12 H, 8 BB, 10 K, .218 AVG) and Soph #44 Nathan Garza (0-2, 5.59 ERA, 1 save, 7 apps, 10 IP, 11 H, 4 BB, 10 K, .314 AVG. '12 – 4 apps, 3 1/3 IP).  Garza leads the pitching staff in appearances and has the best arm in the bullpen and would be the most likely reliever to pitch in the eighth and ninth innings.

The only LHP's in the bullpen are JC transfers #41 Jeff Gunter and #12 Caleb Walker. Gunter has made four scoreless appearances, throwing 3 1/3 innings, and Walker has made one appearance.

The other RHP relievers are FR #23 Guillermo Trujillo (0-0, 3.65 ERA, 6 apps, 12 IP, 11 H, 2 BB, 13 K) and JC transfers #24 Brad Fisher (6 apps, 1-1, 4.50 ERA, 6 IP, 5 H, 5 BB, 5 K) and #9 Pepe Gomez (5 apps, 3 IP, 4 H, 5 R, 6 BB, 0 K).  Trujillo has a good arm and would be the most likely pitcher to come into the game in middle relief between the starters and Garza.


Outlook        
 
Fullerton had to deal with adversity on and off the field last week and when they were backed into a corner after losing two straight games and losing the opening game of the series against Texas A&M, the team buckled down and found a way to win the series.  It wasn't pretty for the Titans but there are no style points in baseball and the only thing that matters at the end of the day is the scoreboard.

Fullerton is a better offensive team than Oral Roberts but the Titans have been scuffling lately against some solid pitching staffs and they will be challenged in the first two games against two starting pitchers for the Golden Eagles who were the Summit League pitchers of the year in each of the last two seasons.  The Titans probably won't be getting free bases from walks and HBP's like they have been lately so they are going to have to be a more efficient hitting team and execute via moving runners over and getting them in to generate some offense.

Oral Roberts has had a great deal of difficulty scoring runs this season, averaging 1 1/2 runs less than they did in 2012, and their offense doesn't figure to get healthy this weekend against a strong Fullerton rotation and a rested bullpen.  The Golden Eagles will try to work counts and draw walks but that doesn't figure to work too well against a pitching staff that allows the fewest walks per game in the country.  As long as the Titans starters continue to attack the strike zone they should do well in this series.

Fullerton has been playing exceptional defense most of the time and is ranked #15 in the country in fielding % while Oral Roberts has struggled on defense and allowed an unearned run per game.  The starters for the Golden Eagles in the first two games might not give away too many free bases but the fielders might not respond well to the pressure that the Titans put on teams.

With the way that Fullerton is playing and the slump that an inexperienced Oral Roberts team is in, this is a series that the Titans should win.  The Golden Eagles have the starting pitching to make this a competitive series but Fullerton is a much better team and should win at least two games this weekend and will be trying to sweep all three games even though this series is on the road.