Pacific Preview: Pitching

With as well as Pacific is hitting the ball this season and the improvements they have made defensively, the Tigers should have a better record. The reason that Pacific is under .500 for the season is a pitching staff that has the second worst ERA in the Big West at 6.06 because the pitching staff has been about as bad as it was the previous two seasons when the staff ERA's were well over 6.00.

Inexperience isn't an issue and this pitching staff should be better with almost every pitcher returning from last season but Pacific has only one pitcher with an ERA under 6.00.  Teams are hitting .322 against Pacific but one thing that the Tigers have done well is have their pitchers throw lots of ground balls and keep the ball in the ballpark, giving up 18 HR's (2nd in the conference) with 6 of those hit last weekend by Cal Poly, one of the best hitting teams in the Big West.   

Starters

Fri SP – SR Joey Centanni (LHP – 3-3, 3.52 ERA, 8 starts, 1 CG, 54 IP, 59 H, 14 BB, 23 K, .294 BA, 1 HR) had a very good FR season in 2006 (6-4, 2.77 ERA in 88 IP) but has struggled with injuries the past two seasons (combined stats for 2007 and 2008 – 0-9, 4.82 ERA, 14 starts, 71 IP) but is finally healthy this year and is 3rd in the conference in IP.  He is a typical "crafty lefty" and relies on control as a sinker-slider pitcher to get hitters out and usually gets hitters to hit ground balls with 51 of the 59 H's he has allowed going for singles.  Centanni had a 1.29 ERA in his first 4 starts but hasn't pitched as well in his past 4 starts with a 5.96 ERA.  He allowed 9 R's on 13 H's at UCSB before bouncing back to shut down a very good hitting Cal Poly team, holding the Mustangs to 2 R's on 7 H's in 6 IP.  Centanni does a good job against runners and has allowed only 1-4 SB's.  He had an outstanding start against Fullerton last year, when he held the Titans to 2 R's on 7 H's in 8 IP.

Sat SP – SR Cole Akins (RHP – 2-1, 6.00 ERA, 9 apps, 6 starts, 36 IP, 55 H, 7 BB, 25 K, .353 BA, 3 HR) was the regular Sat SP before being replaced against Cal Poly but he will be back in the rotation this weekend.  Akins has very good control and is a ground ball pitcher (42 of 55 H's are singles) but is around the plate too much and doesn't throw hard enough to keep hitters from teeing off.  He has allowed 15 R's in 16 IP in his last three starts.  Akins does a good job of holding runners, allowing only 1-4 SB's.  He started last year in the rotation but pitched out of the bullpen in the second half of the season (2008 – 1-5, 6.75 ERA, 20 apps, 5 starts, 1 save, 49 IP, 82 H, 14 BB, 33 K, .366 BA, 7 HR).  Akins has thrown three scoreless innings in two apps against Fullerton in his career.

Sun SP – JR Hunter Carnevale (RHP – 2-4, 6.42 ERA, 8 starts, 41 IP, 41 H, 30 BB, 28 K, .272 BA, 2 HR) is one of the harder throwers on the pitching staff but also the wildest.  Carnevale has had games where he was tough to hit such as against UCSB (7 IP, 1 H, 2 R, 5 BB) and Houston (7 IP, 2 H, 1 R) but he has also struggled against Cal Poly (3 1/3 IP, 10 H, 6 R), UC Davis (4 1/3 IP, 5 H, 5 R) and Gonzaga (5 1/3 IP, 5 H, 5 R).  He has walked at least three hitters in every start except for his start against Cal Poly last weekend and he leads the Big West in HBP's so he definitely has control issues.  Carnevale has allowed runners to go 5-8 on SB attempts.  He pitched primarily out of the bullpen last season (2008 – 2-4, 7.91 ERA, 17 apps, 4 starts, 39 IP, 45 H, 25 BB, 19 K) after pitching mostly as a SP in 2007 when he went 2-5, 5.99 ERA in 77 IP.  Carnevale allowed 7 R's in 5 IP against Fullerton in 2007 and did not pitch against the Titans last year.

Relievers

Soph Thomas Berolzheimer (RHP – 1-2, 6.00 ERA, 4 saves, 13 apps, 15 IP, 22 H, 5 BB, 11 K, .355 BA, 0 HR) is the closer and the hardest thrower of the relievers and has been solid lately with three scoreless outings against UCSB and Cal Poly.  2008 stats –1-2, 6.88 ERA, 25 apps, 3 saves, 35 IP, 52 H, 11 BB, 31 K, .354 BA, 4 HR.  He allowed 4 R's in 0+ IP against Fullerton last season.  SR Larry Holscher (RHP - 1-2, 6.20 ERA, 9 apps, 2 starts, 20 IP, 26 H, 8 BB, 11 K, .325 BA, 4 HR) started last weekend against Cal Poly instead of Akins but wasn't effective (5 2/3 IP, 10 H, 10 R, 5 ER).  He would probably be one of the first pitchers brought into the game in a long relief situation.  SR Mark McCain (RHP – 1-0, 6.17 ERA, 1 save, 17 apps, 23 IP, 27 H, 11 BB, 18 K, .300 BA, 1 HR) is one of the harder throwers on the staff, has been the reliever used most often by Pacific and is 2nd in the Big West in appearances.  McCain was a SP most of last year (2008 – 1-6, 5.23 ERA, 17 apps, 11 starts, 84 IP, 102 H, 28 BB, 60 K, .301 BA, 9 HR) and was effective early but wore down later in the season.  He allowed 6 R's and 7 H's in 7 IP in his start against Fullerton last season.  Other relievers for Pacific are JC transfer Tye Davis (RHP – 1-1, 7.47 ERA, 5 apps, 2 starts, 16 IP, 23 H, 4 BB, 5 K, .348 BA, 2 HR) and JR Andrew Mintun (RHP – 0-1, 7.94 ERA, 10 apps, 11 IP, 23 H, 4 BB, 12 K, .418 BA, 1 HR).  The only LHP's likely to see action in this series are JC transfer Jamie Niley (1-1, 6.66 ERA, 11 apps, 2 starts, 26 IP, 28 H, 9 BB, 23 K, .289 BA, 0 HR) and JR David Rowse (1-1, 8.71 ERA, 7 apps, 1 start, 10 IP, 16 H, 10 BB, 5 K, .356 BA, 2 HR), who has allowed 7 R's in 5 IP in three apps against Fullerton.