Baseball Preview: Arizona

Cal State Fullerton's slow start continued against TCU as the Titans lost two out of three games for the second weekend in a row and lost the series to the Horned Frogs at Goodwin Field for the second straight season.

Fullerton lost the first game 5-2 as their bats were throttled by Steven Maxwell and he took a no-hitter into the seventh inning.  After Saturday’s game was rained out, the teams split a doubleheader on Sunday with the Titans winning the first game 6-4 behind the hitting and pitching of Nick Ramirez before TCU came back to win the second game 8-1 when the Horned Frogs broke open the game with a five run sixth inning while Kyle Winkler shut down the Fullerton offense.  The Titans rebounded against San Diego with an 11-4 midweek win and this weekend Fullerton hits the road for the first time season and will be traveling down to Tucson to take on the Arizona Wildcats.

Andy Lopez led Arizona to the College World Series in 2004 and had the Wildcats in regionals in five out of six years and in a super regional in 2008 before a mediocre 30-25, 13-14 season in 2009.  Things were pretty miserable for Arizona both on and off the field and Lopez cleaned house after the season with fifteen players leaving the program who had eligibility remaining in addition to having seven players leave the program after being drafted and/or graduating.  With that type of attrition the result is the Wildcats have one of the youngest teams on the west coast with seventeen freshmen in the program.  Arizona returns only four position players who saw regular playing time and four pitchers with pitched at least 35 innings last season.  The expectations for the Wildcats are fairly low and they are being predicted to finish anywhere between fifth and eighth place in the Pac 10 and are expected to miss post-season play for the second straight season.

Arizona is 4-3 after getting their season off to a fast start by winning all three games at home against Utah Valley State, one of the lower level teams in the western region, by the scores of 8-1, 18-1 and 8-7.  The Wildcats struggled last weekend while facing a better team when they lost both games to Long Beach with the third game of the series rained out.  Arizona blew a late lead to lose 8-7 in the first game before losing 10-3 in the second game.  The Wildcats faced UNLV in a midweek series and lost 12-10 in the first game before rebounding to win the second game 5-4 in 13 innings.

 

OUTLOOK

Fullerton has gotten off to a slow start and is looking to get their first series win this weekend.  It looked like the ballclub started to turn the corner in their midweek win vs. San Diego against a weekend SP who should be better than any of the SP’s that they will see this weekend, although he was very wild which helped out the Titan hitters.

Arizona is a very young team that got off to a fast start against an inferior opponent before having a bit of a reality check while going 1-3 when the level of competition improved. 

Runs don’t figure to be hard to come by this weekend with the way that Arizona swings the bats at home and with the struggles that the Wildcat pitching staff has had in allowing over eight runs a game the past five games.  The Titans should have the pitching advantage in this series if they don’t allow Arizona to gain confidence at home in a hitters ballpark.

Fullerton is a more well rounded club than Arizona and if the Titans pitchers are effective and the hitters are able to have a good approach at the plate and swing the bats the way that they did on Tuesday night then Fullerton should win two out of three games this weekend.