Baseball Preview: Santa Clara

Cal State Fullerton (34-15, 18-3) wrapped up the Big West championship last weekend with two weeks to go in the regular season with a sweep at Long Beach State (12-2, 8-0, 6-4) to improve their record to 16-1 over 17 games before having their seven game winning streak snapped on Tuesday in an 11-10 loss to LMU.

The Titans have hit .378 and averaged nearly 10 runs per game over the last 18 games.  The leading hitters for Fullerton in the sweep at Long Beach were Christian Colon (5-15, 2 HR, 8 RBI and his first career grand slam), Billy Marcoe (6-14, 5 RBI) and Carlos Lopez (5-13, 4 RBI).

The starting pitching for Fullerton was dominant for the second straight weekend with Noe Ramirez, Daniel Renken and Dylan Floro combining to hold Long Beach to three runs in 22 2/3 IP for a stellar 1.19 ERA.  Ramirez allowed 1 R in 7 IP to set the tone for the weekend on Friday and Floro allowed 2 R in 6 2/3 IP to help finish off the sweep on Sunday but the highlight of the series was Renken throwing a complete game shutout to earn a share of Big West pitcher of the week honors, the second consecutive week that a Titans pitcher received that award.  Fullerton is looking to bounce back after their midweek loss and get back to their winning ways in a non-conference series this weekend against the Santa Clara Broncos.

Santa Clara (21-27, 6-12) thought they would have a chance to improve on their 19-34, 6-15 record from 2009 despite losing six of nine hitters who had 100+ AB’s with almost all of their pitching staff returning from last season.  However, the Broncos have been very inconsistent with their mostly new lineup leading the WCC in several hitting categories while the pitching staff has struggled and ranks near the bottom of their conference.  Santa Clara has come up on the short end of seven series, including sweeps in WCC series by San Diego, Portland and St. Mary’s, with their only series wins coming against San Jose State and Princeton in non-conf series and Pepperdine and Gonzaga in WCC series.

 

OUTLOOK

With the Big West title all wrapped up, one would could draw the conclusion that there isn’t much motivation for Fullerton over the next two weekends but that isn’t be the case.  The Titans still have quite a bit to play for with a strong chance to secure a bid to host a regional at Goodwin Field and a decent chance for a national seed, depending on how things play out with other teams that Fullerton is competing against for the last couple of national seeds.

Santa Clara has a puncher’s chance this weekend with an offense that has scored at least six runs in 27 games and some starting pitchers that have had their moments.  But, their offense has been shut down by the solid pitching staffs of San Diego, Pepperdine and Portland so if the Fullerton SP’s continue to throw well they should have some success.  And, despite the loss of Gary Brown, the Titans were still able to score ten runs against LMU and should still be able continue to put up a high number of runs this weekend against the Broncos pitching staff.

Fullerton has been on an extended 27-6 roll the last two months with three straight weekend sweeps at Goodwin Field while Santa Clara has struggled while losing four of their six WCC series and is only 6-12 on the road.  The Titans should be able to take control of this series because they are the better team and if they are on their game and stay focused, Fullerton has a very good chance to sweep this series.