Pacific Preview: Lineup

Pacific was the worst hitting team in the conference the past two seasons and was one of the worst hitting teams in the country in 2008, averaging 4.7 runs per game and hitting .265 as a team, both of which ranked in the bottom 30 in the country, while hitting only 29 HR's.

This season the Tigers have easily been the most improved offense in the conference and are hitting over 40 points higher (.308 – 3rd in the conf) and are 4th in the conf with a .388 OBP (.343 in 2008) and a .469 SLG % (.387 in 2008).  Pacific has already hit 27 HR's (including 5 in one game at UCSB) and are averaging 6.5 runs per game, nearly two runs more per game than they scored in 2008.  The Tigers have been especially hot during conference games, scoring at least 5 runs in every game and 7+ runs in 7 of 9 Big West games with a .366 team BA, including .350 against UCSB and Cal Poly.  Pacific is patient at the plate and is 3rd in the conference in BB's and they are also willing to take HBP's with 34.  The Tigers don't bunt much and are 7th in the conf with 18 SAC's (7 by one player) and don't run much with 28-42 SB's (7th in the conf in SB's and attempts).

Pacific was one of the worst defensive teams in the country the past two seasons when they made 116 errors last year and 119 in 2007.  The Tigers have also been much improved in the field this year and have made only 36 errors for a .969 fielding %, which is in the middle of the pack in the Big West.  Pacific has a predominantly ground ball pitching staff and that has resulted in the Tigers turning the most double plays in the conference.  The Tigers have also done a very good job at stopping the running game of their opponents, holding them to just over 50% on steal attempts (19-37).

Infield

C – SR Kurt Wideman (RH – .368-4-21-4) was supposed to be the DH and backup C with Joe Oliveira returning after starting the past two seasons.  But, Oliveira was injured during the fall and suffered another injury this spring and is taking a medical redshirt.  Wideman hits in the middle of the lineup and has been one of the better all around hitters in the conference, ranking in the top ten in BA (8th), OBP (3rd), SLG (5th), 2B's (1st) and total bases (7th).  He also ranks 5th in the conference with 8 HBP's.  Wideman was 7-25 the last two weekends against UCSB and Cal Poly with 1 HR and 2 RBI's.  Wideman has been very good defensively both at throwing out runners (14-31 SB's) and at blocking pitches (17 WP's/PB's).  He is 0-5 in his career against Fullerton and hit .268-4-27-1 last season.

1B – Soph Brian Martin (LH – .300-3-18-0) was a part-time player last season (2008 – .264-0-18-0) but has been the regular 1B this year and been a productive hitter in the middle of the lineup.  Martin has been a good contact hitter with only 11 K's.  He has been hot in conf games, going 9-21 against UCSB and Cal Poly with 2 HR's and 6 RBI's.  Martin was 1-9 last season against Fullerton.

2B – Soph J.B. Brown (LH – .392-5-30-1) was the starting SS last season (2008 – .235-1-13-3) but struggled both offensively and defensively (16 E's, .897 fielding %).  Brown was moved to 2B to take over for four year starter Adam Ching and has been one of the most improved players in the conference, ranking among the Big West leaders in BA (3rd), SLG (5th), H's (4th), RBI's (7th) and total bases (5th).  He hits 3rd and has been red hot in conference, going 11-25 against UCSB and Cal Poly with 2 HR's and 9 RBI's.  Brown has hits in 29 of 31 games and had a 20 game hitting streak snapped last Sunday against Cal Poly.  He leads all Big West 2B's in assists and is fielding much better this year (6 E's, .960 fielding %).  Brown was 1-7 against Fullerton last season.

SS – JC transfer Ben Gorang (RH – .292-2-17-2) usually bats 9th and is in the lineup for his glove, although he has also done decently at the plate.  Gorang is 2nd on the team with 4 SAC's and is a good contact hitter with only 9 K's.  He went 5-22 against UCSB and Cal Poly with 0 HR's and 3 RBI's.  Gorang has been one of the best defensive players in the conference, leading the Big West in assists and he has made only 4 errors. 

3B – JR Mike Walker (LH – .346-3-14-2) was a part-time player last season (2008 – .293-3-26-1) but has thrived at the plate as the regular 3B.  Walker usually hits 7th and is another player who has been hot in Big West games, hitting 8-22 against UCSB and Cal Poly with 0 HR's and 5 RBI's.  He is not a good defensive player and is one of the few Tigers who hasn't improved defensively and has made 10 errors after making 19 errors last season but he does lead the conf 3B's in assists due to having so many chances with Pacific having so many ground ball pitchers.  Walker is 1-10 in his career against Fullerton.

Outfield/DH

LF – Soph Nick Longmire (RH – .395-4-22-4) is the leadoff hitter, has good speed and was the regular CF last season (2008 – .323-3-31-9) when he led the team in BA and RBI's.  Longmire has been even better this year, ranking among the conference leaders in BA (2nd), OBP (3rd), R's (3rd), SLG (4th), H's (6th), and total bases (4th).  One of the few areas that Longmire has struggled with striking out and has the 9th most K's in the conference.  He has been absolutely scorching hot in Big West games, going 15-24 against UCSB and Cal Poly with 3 HR's and 11 RBI's, and is currently on a 10 game hitting streak.  Longmire was 3-11 against Fullerton last season. 

RF – SR Mike McKeever (RH – .287-3-24-2) is in his 2nd year as the regular RF (2008 – .311-6-26-3), hits in the middle of the lineup and led the team in HR's last season.  He has struggled with making contact and has the 10th most K's in the conference.   McKeever will take a HBP and ranks 3rd in the conference.  He is one of the few hitters who has not been hitting well, going 3-21 against UCSB and Cal Poly without an RBI.  McKeever went 3-11 against Fullerton last season with an HR.

CF and DH – SR Joey Centanni (RH – .294-2-17-7) is the Fri SP, will DH on Fri's and is one of the better athletes on the team.  He leads the Tigers in SB's and SAC bunts with 7 and usually hits 2nd.  He will split time between DH and CF on Sat's and Sun's.  Centanni went 7-18 against UCSB and Cal Poly with 0 HR's and 3 RBI's.  JC transfer Jamie Niley (RH – .153 in 59 AB's) was getting regular AB's earlier in the season (16 starts) but hasn't played as much lately, going 1-7 against UCSB and Cal Poly.  JR Matt Fuson (RH – .154 in 39 AB's) was a part-time OF last year (2008 – .132 in 53 AB's) and has had a similar role this season.  FR Josh Simms (RH – .154 in 26 AB's) and FR Allen Riley (Both – .333 in 24 AB's) have started to play more and Riley has been red hot, going 7-11 against UCSB and Cal Poly with 3 RBI's so expect to see Riley in the lineup most of the time this weekend.  Whichever one of these players is in the lineup will usually hit 8th.