Baseball Preview: Pacific

Cal State Fullerton (25-13, 10-2) has continued to take care of business and their winning streak is now up to seven games and they have also won 13 of 15 games overall since the start of conference play.

 The Titans welcomed Pepperdine and Cal Poly to Goodwin Field last week and won all four games (12-5 against Pepperdine and 8-6, 11-3 and 9-2 against Cal Poly) while hitting.388 and averaging 10 runs per game to stay in first place by two games in the Big West.  Leading the way for Fullerton were the Big West player of the week Nick Ramirez (9-14, 0 HR, 5 RBI), Gary Brown (9-18, 0 HR, 7 RBI), Tyler Pill (7-15, 1 HR, 5 RBI) and Joey Siddons (7-15, 1 HR, 5 RBI).  The Titans received good starts on the mound from Daniel Renken (3 R allowed in 8 2/3 IP) and Tyler Pill (five shutout innings) against Cal Poly and eight innings of relief in three appearances (2 R allowed) from Dylan Floro.  Fullerton continued to score runs in bunches on Tuesday at San Diego and needed to in a 13-10 comeback win with a two out, nobody on base rally in the 9th inning that was started by Richie Pedroza, who had four hits in the game, and finished by the game winning grand slam by Carlos Lopez.  The Titans look to continue their hot streak this weekend as they travel up to Stockton to take on the Pacific Tigers.

Pacific (25-14, 7-5) went 21-32, 9-15 in 2009.  That wouldn’t be a positive season for most programs but considering the Tigers won only 30 games overall and 8 conference games the previous two years, Pacific showed quite a bit of improvement that has carried over into this season.  The Tigers had a dramatic hitting and fielding turnaround in 2009 and have six starting position players returning (along with a four year starter who redshirted in 2009) and a much improved pitching staff with several quality JC transfers.  Pacific has won nine of their ten weekend series with their only series loss occurring at Long Beach State in their first conference series.  The Tigers series wins include San Francisco, Nevada and USC (all at home) in non-conf series and UC Riverside (home), UC Irvine (away) and Cal State Northridge (home) in Big West series.  Pacific has shown some tenacity the last two weekends after losing on Friday against Irvine and Northridge but coming back to win on Saturday and Sunday in both series.


OUTLOOK

Both Fullerton and Pacific come into this series playing very confidently with the teams combining to win 13 of 14 series over the last seven weeks.  The Titans have been steamrolling through teams with 7 of their 10 Big West wins coming by 5+ runs while the Tigers have been playing closer games with 5 of their 7 conf wins coming by 3 runs or less.

Pacific has some good intangibles going for them this weekend.  The Tigers are 6-0 in home series and there are expected to be record crowds at Klein Field.  Pacific won’t be intimidated by seeing the Titans across from them in the other dugout after winning last year’s series at Fullerton.  The Tigers are looking to make a run at getting into a regional for the first time ever and will be very motivated this weekend because this is probably the biggest series in the history of their program.

Both teams have shown the ability to put up big numbers at the plate with two of the best hitting teams in the Big West.  A key to winning this series is going to be which pitching staff can hold down the other team’s offense.  These are the two best fielding teams in the Big West so there don’t figure to be too many extra outs given to the other team and any that are will be a bonus.

Fullerton has had the better overall pitching staff but that advantage has been diminished due to the injury to Noe Ramirez and the affect that has had on changing the roles for some of other the pitchers.  Pacific has pitched much better this season but they have been up and down during Big West games and if they are going to win this series they are going to have to be more consistent.

Fullerton is going to have to bring their A game this weekend to win this series and the best way for the Titans to do that is by jumping on the Pacific pitching staff early.  If Fullerton is able to do that the Titans have a strong chance of winning this series despite the issues with their pitching staff.  If Pacific’s pitchers are able to hold the Fullerton offense down and the Tiger hitters are able to put some runs up on the board for Pacific to jump out to leads, the Tigers will have a good chance of winning this series.