Baseball Preview: Pacific

The Cal State Fullerton baseball program went through one of the toughest situations in its history last weekend during the series at Cal State Northridge, playing the first game in that series hours after former teammate Jon Wilhite was critically injured in a car accident that killed the other three people in the car that he was a passenger in.

The Titans struggled with their emotions but were able to come back from losing the first game of the series, a game that took 15 innings and two days to play due to the lack of lights at Northridge, to win the next two games to break out of a slump in which Fullerton had lost 5 of the previous 6 games.  The Titans also played well in winning 9-2 Tuesday at USC and enter the series with the Pacific Tigers this weekend at Goodwin Field on a three game winning streak. 

Pacific was unanimously picked by the Big West coaches to finish in last place after going 14-41 in 2008 and finishing in last place in the conference at 5-19 but the Tigers are 13-18 and have gotten off to a good start at 5-4 in conference games, sweeping UC Davis and losing two of three games at UCSB and at home to Cal Poly last weekend.  Pacific has been competitive at home, going 9-7 and sweeping Houston in addition to the sweep of UC Davis.  The Tigers have been mediocre on the road, losing all three series they have played (Baylor 1-2, San Jose 0-3, UCSB 1-2) and splitting four games in San Diego State's tournament but those results are an improvement over last season when Pacific went 5-20 on the road.

OUTLOOK

Fullerton has traditionally beaten Pacific soundly every season, winning 19 straight games and 29 of the last 30 against the Tigers.   Pacific has been more competitive this season because of the drastic improvements with their position players this season both at the plate and in the field.  One of the keys to this weekend will be how well the Fullerton pitching staff can hold down the Tigers offense because Pacific is 0-13 when they have scored four runs or less and 13-5 when they have scored 5+ runs, with four of those losses coming against UCSB and Cal Poly.  The other key to this weekend will be how well the Fullerton offense can continue to score runs after scoring 24 runs in the last three games.  Pacific has struggled with their pitching most of the season in allowing 6+ runs in 20 of 31 games.  If Fullerton can keep being productive at the plate and the Fullerton pitching staff can control the Pacific offense, the Titans should win this series and it would not be much of a surprise if Fullerton was able to sweep this series.