Sunday Baseball Preview: Long Beach State

It's time for another year of Titan Baseball with the potential for a return visit to Omaha in the last year of venerable Rosenblatt Stadium. Fullerton is ranked in the top five in every major poll on the strength of a pitching staff that returns all three weekend starters and several position players that are pre-season All Americans. Here is a preview for each of Fullerton's opponents.

Sunday – Long Beach State Dirtbags

  • Overall Record – 25-29
  • Conference Record – 11-13 (5th place - tied)
  • RPI/ISR – 117/73
  • Predicted conf finish – 4th
  • 2009 Summary and 2010 Preview

Long Beach has been used to competing for Big West championships since Dave Snow arrived on campus for the 1989 season. The Dirtbags entered last year with an inexperienced team after sharing the conf title with Fullerton in 2008 and had their first losing season since 1988. Long Beach got off to a slow start and lost their first five series, rebounded in the middle of the season to win five of the next six series but struggled down the stretch and lost nine of their last ten games. They struggled both offensively, ranking in the bottom half of the country in most offensive categories except for SB’s, and on the mound where they had a very uncharacteristic 5.18 team ERA. Expectations for the Dirtbags are higher this season and they are expected to contend for a spot in a regional this year with a much more experienced team. Long Beach has seven starting position players and two weekend starting pitchers returning and a recruiting class heavy on pitchers to fill out the bullpen, which is the only inexperienced area on the team. They also welcome back pitching coach Troy Buckley, who was instrumental in the development of many high draft picks and the team annually being among the national leaders in ERA.

 

Offense

  • Park Factor according to Boyd’s World – 84 (decreases offense by 16%).
  • Batting Average – .289 (197)
  • Runs Per Game – 6.0 (220)
  • Home Runs – 24 (263)
  • Stolen Bases – 118 (12)
  • Slugging Percentage – .394 (255)
  • Walks – 176 (225)
  • HBP’s – 72 (59)
  • Sac Bunts – 61 (9)

 

Lineup 

C – SR Kellen Hoime (RH – .252/.338/.291, 0-19-5) split time during non-conf games but started 16 of the last 18 games. Went 0-5 in two games against Fullerton. 

1B – SR Steve Tinoco (RH – .343/.379/.543, 5-30-5) was 2nd on the team in HR’s and SLG %. Went 2-12 with an HR last season against Fullerton. Predicted to contend for all conf honors. 

2B – Soph Derek Legg (Both – .304/.382/.376, 1-20-11) started last year as a FR. Handles the bat well and has good speed. Went 2-13 last season against Fullerton.

SS – JR Devin Lohman (RH – .307/.409/.432, 4-36-14) is projected to be selected in the first 10 rounds of the draft. Was 2nd on the team in RBI’s and hit in the middle of the lineup. 2nd in the conf last year with 48 K’s. Went 2-11 last season against Fullerton.

3B/DH – Soph Kirk Singer (RH – .317 in 41 AB’s) started to get more playing time late last season. Projected to be one of the better defensive players at 3B on the west coast. Soph Joey Terdoslavich (Both – .293-5-25-2 in 2008) sat out last season after transferring from Miami. He will be in the lineup at either 3B or DH and will provide some much needed power to the lineup and is expected to contend for all conf honors.

LF – JR Jonathon Jones (RH – .307/.388/.375, 1-23-15) has good speed and was the starting CF in 2008. Jones was 5-9 last season against Fullerton. Other OF’s who could also see playing time in LF or at DH are SR Tre Dennis (LH – .232/.348/.326, 1-13-10) and Soph Brennan Metzger (RH – .258/.389/.337, 1-9-11), who was 2nd on the team in SAC’s.

CF – JR Jordan Casas (LH – .308/.335/.362, 0-25-22) was the leadoff hitter last season and was 2nd in the conf in SB’s. He went 2-13 against Fullerton last year while playing with a broken finger. He is expected to contend for all conf honors.

RF – SR TJ Mittelstaedt (LH – .316/.416/.551, 6-46-6) led the team in HR’s, RBI’s, BB’s, OBP, 2B’s, 3B’s and SLG last season and was one of the few bright spots in a miserable season for Long Beach. He is 10-30 with 4 RBI’s in his career against Fullerton, including 3-11 last season when all three hits were triples.

 

Defense

Fielding % .966 (88) – 68 errors. Struggled early before fielding better during the conf season. Potential to have a good defensive infield with improvement by Lohman and Legg. Very good defensive outfield.

Stolen Base Attempts – 30-47 against Hoime (15-26 in conf games). He also picked off four runners.

WP’s/PB’s Allowed – 42. Solid at blocking pitches.

 

Pitching

  • ERA – 5.18 (95)
  • BA – .303
  • HR – 40
  • H’s/9 IP – 10.82 (154)
  • BB’s/9 IP – 3.10 (27)
  • K’s/9 IP – 6.3 (202)

 

Starting Pitcher

Fri SP – JR Jake Thompson (RHP – 4-7, 5.61 ERA, 14 starts, 85 IP, 103 H, 13 BB, 42 K, .302 BA, 9 HR, 10 HBP, 5 WP) has a low 90’s fastball and very good control but he doesn’t miss too many bats and had trouble keeping the ball down. He does a good job of holding runners (4-8 SB’s). He has allowed 12 R on 19 H in 11 IP in his two starts against Fullerton in his career.

Sat SP – Soph Andrew Gagnon (RHP – 3-7, 6.32 ERA, 13 starts, 73 IP, 96 H, 23 BB, 44 K, .327 BA, 5 HR, 11 HBP, 9 WP) is a talented pitcher with a low 90’s fastball who was drafted in the 10th round out of HS. He has had trouble being consistent with his command. Baserunners were 8-12 on SB attempts against him. Allowed 6 R in 2 2/3 IP in his start against Fullerton last season. 

Sun SP – Projected to be JC transfer Branden Pinder (RHP). The Sun SP could be rotated among several pitchers until somebody takes control of this spot. 

Relief Pitchers

Long Beach lost most of their relievers from last season so the bullpen is up for grabs. The only experienced relievers are SR Jason Markovitz (LHP – 1-1, 4.42 ERA, 18 apps, 20 IP, 21 H, 9 BB, 15 K, .304 BA, 1 HR, 3 HBP, 0 WP), SR David Brown (RHP – 2-0, 6.30 ERA, 15 apps, 20 IP, 26 H, 12 BB, 10 K, .329 BA, 3 HR, 3 HBP, 0 WP) and Soph Josh Corrales (RHP – 1-2, 6.64 ERA, 1 save, 17 apps, 20 IP, 27 H, 10 BB, 11 K, .333 BA, 1 HR, 2 HBP, 2 WP). Pitchers who figure to contend for the Sun SP, midweek SP and innings in the bullpen are JC transfers Troy Watson, Cris Trout and Kenny Arnerich (all RHP's), redshirt FR Ryan Donohue (LHP) and FR Jordan Mejia, Eddie Magallon, Nate Underwood (all RHP's).

 

Outlook

Fullerton goes into this weekend looking to play like a team on a mission. The Titans had a good season but were inconsistent in the middle of the year and often didn’t come up big when they needed to, especially in Omaha. Each of the teams that Fullerton is playing this weekend figure to be much better this season than they were last year. But, the Titans look like they are better than all three of the teams they are playing this weekend. Fullerton should win at least two of the three games and it wouldn’t be a major surprise if Fullerton won all three games to start the season.