Baseball Preview: Cal Poly-SLO

Cal State Fullerton continued playing a solid brand of baseball last weekend as the Titans went up to UC Santa Barbara and won two out of three games against the Gauchos. After losing a 5-3 decision to tough LHP Mario Hollands on Friday, Fullerton broke out the bats and won their next two games 17-3 and 6-1.

The Titans hit nine HR’s in the series and the leaders of a balanced attack were Big West player of the week Gary Brown (7-14, 2 HR, 6 RBI), Nick Ramirez (8-13, 3 HR, 4 RBI), Christian Colon (6-14, 3 HR, 7 RBI), Carlos Lopez (6-12, 3 RBI) and Tyler Pill (6-13, 1 HR, 3 RBI). Fullerton also received solid starts from Daniel Renken (3 R, 7 H with 8 K in 6 IP) and Tyler Pill (1 R, 3 H with 11 K in 8 IP) to allow the Titans to come back from a Friday loss for the second week in a row to win the series. After beating Pepperdine 12-5 on Tuesday the Titans have won 14 out of 18 games and have gone 15-3 over the last six weekends as they play their first weekend series at home in the last three weeks against the Cal Poly Mustangs.

 

Cal Poly (10-23, 3-6) finished 37-21 and in third place in the Big West in 2009, qualifying for a regional for the first time after near misses in 2005 and 2007. The Mustangs expected to make a run at getting back into post-season play despite losing three key players in their lineup (INF/OF Adam Buschini, CF Ryan Lee, SS Kyle Smith) with an experienced lineup and several starting pitchers returning. However, things have not gone as planned in SLO and this season has turned into a disaster. Cal Poly has not won a weekend series and were swept by UCLA and Houston and lost two out of three games to USC, USF and Cal. The Mustangs have also lost two out of three games in each of their Big West series (at UC Riverside, vs. UCSB and at Cal State Northridge) but despite going 4-17 after a 6-6 start they haven’t quit because Cal Poly has lost a one run game in each conference series that ended up being the deciding game in each of those series.

 

OUTLOOK

Fullerton will go into the series with Cal Poly heavily favored to take at least two games like they were in last weekend’s series at UCSB. The Mustangs have been more competitive recently but they are still finding ways to lose games. The Titans were finding ways to lose games in the first three weeks but have been finding ways to win them since their poor start.

The only way that Cal Poly is going to win this series is if Fullerton lets the Mustangs jump out to early leads and have their SP’s keep low pitch counts and stay in games for extended innings. If Fullerton’s SP’s hold down Cal Poly early in games and the hitters put some numbers on the board early, the Titans should win at least two games if not all three. Cal Poly’s offense has put up some numbers against mid-level pitching but has been held down by solid pitchers and their bullpen has usually not been able to hold anybody down.

Fullerton could have trouble in the first game of the series due to the questionable status of Noe Ramirez and the way that Matt Leonard had pitched in his four starts prior to last weekend. The Titans would be prohibitively favored in the other two games with the way that Renken and Pill have been pitching the last two weeks. Fullerton’s pitching staff does match up well with the mostly RH hitting Cal Poly lineup that is 5-7 against LH SP’s but only 5-16 against RH SP’s.

Fullerton has to make sure they do not overlook Cal Poly this weekend. The Titans usually play well against the Mustangs and have only lost one series to Cal Poly since they moved up to Division I in the mid 1990’s. If Fullerton continues to play like they have been the last six weeks then the Titans should win at least two games at home this weekend, if not all three.