SANTA BARBARA, Calif. – No. 18 Cal State Fullerton is currently riding a three-game winning streak and will travel to take on UC Santa Barbara, the top offense in the Big West Conference.
CATCH ALL THE ACTION: Live audio and live stats will be available for all three games from Caesar Uyesaka Stadium and the links can be found on the baseball schedule page at FullertonTitans.com.
SOCIAL MEDIA: Follow @BaseballTitans on Twitter for daily updates during the 2014 season.
IN THE POLLS: This week, the Titans held steady in the Baseball America top-25 and the Collegiate Baseball top-30 polls, placing No. 18 and 19 respectively. They moved down a slot in the USA Today Coaches Poll to No. 19 and gained a spot in the NCBWA polls, moving up to No. 15 this week.
The Gauchos are ranked for the sixth consecutive week, garnering spots on three of the four major polls. They are No. 22 according to Baseball America; No. 14 in Collegiate Baseball and No. 26 in the NCBWA poll. The Gauchos dropped out of the USA Today Coaches' Poll this week but did receive votes.
RPI WATCH: According to the official NCAA RPI report released Tuesday, Cal State Fullerton dropped 13 spots to No. 49 while the Gauchos come into the critical weekend series at No. 33, the second best in the conference behind Cal Poly.
GOLDEN SPIKES MIDSEASON WATCH LIST: Cal State Fullerton sophomore right-hander Thomas Eshelman and junior two-way player J.D. Davis were named to the Golden Spikes Award 50-man midseason watch list by USA Baseball on Thursday, bringing the organization one step closer to naming the top amateur baseball player in the country.
Cal State Fullerton was tied for the most nominees on the midseason watch list with eight other teams including Florida State, Oregon State and Virginia.
Eshelman appears on the midseason watch list for the second consecutive season. He was a semifinalist for the award as a freshman in 2013. Vanderbilt's Tyler Beede and Aaron Nola of Louisiana State were also semifinalists in 2013 that made the 2014 midseason watch list.
Eshelman is currently 5-1 as the Friday-night starter for the Titans this season with a 1.43 ERA. The Carlsbad, Calif. native leads the nation with a 48:1 strikeout-to-walk ratio. He leads the Big West Conference in walks allowed per nine innings with a 0.14 mark, which also ranks second in the nation.
Eshelman is also tied for first in the conference with two complete games and leads the team with 63 innings pitched. The sophomore's 0.75 WHIP leads the Big West Conference and ranks ninth in the nation. He leads the Titans with seven quality starts and went 26 straight innings without allowing an earned run.
As for Davis, the junior was also named to the preseason watch list and leads the Titans with a .349 batting average. His .541 slugging percentage also leads the team and ranks fifth in the Big West. Davis has also started in all 28 games for the Titans this season.
He is coming off a nine-game hitting streak, a team-high, and has reached safely in 10 consecutive games.
Along with the bat, Davis has also served as the hammer in the back end of the bullpen for the Titans, leading the team with four saves in five opportunities. He's 1-0 in six appearances for the Titans. He had his best outing on Tuesday when he shut down UCLA for two innings, holding the Bruins hitless while striking out three.
The Titans have produced three Golden Spikes winners in the program's history: Tim Wallach (1979), Phil Nevin (1992) and Mark Kotsay (1995).
The midseason list sees the departure of sophmore pitcher Justin Garza and junior third baseman Matt Chapman after each was named to the preseason watch list..
TITANS AND THE BIG WEST: Overall, Cal State Fullerton has totaled 27 conference championships dating back to 1975, including 11 in the last 15 years. With last season's title, the Titans made their 35th postseason appearance as well.
Cal State Fullerton has posted a dominant 695-239-1 (.743) overall conference record over 39 seasons. Rick Vanderhook, the school's fifth Div. I head coach, has won two straight Big West crowns since 2012, following in the footsteps of his predecessors, Augie Garrido (14 conference championships), Larry Cochell (1), George Horton (7) and Dave Serrano (3).
A further breakdown has the Titans winning three PCAA conference championships (1975-76, 1987), eight straight SCBA titles (1977-84) and 16 while playing under the Big West name (1990-91, 94-95, 1997, 1999-2001, 2004-06, 2008, 2010-13). The Big West absorbed the PCAA records in 1990 upon its formation, giving the Titans 19 total Big West championships and a 522-193 (.730; 31 years) PCAA/Big West Conference record.
CSF vs. UC SANTA BARBARA
First Year Played/Last Year Played 1976/2013
Overall Record 97-34
Current Streak Lost 1
SCBA Conference Record 28-4
Big West Conference Record 66-27
Overall Conference (SCBA and Big West) Record 94-31
SCBA Playoff Game Record 0-1
Big West Conference Tournament Record 1-0
Home Record 51-17
Road Record 46-16
Neutral Record 0-1
Longest Winning Streak 12 games (5/16/80 to 4/21/83)
Longest Losing Streak 5 games (4/27/86 to 3/27/87)
Extra Innings 3-2
Most Runs Scored in a Game 21 runs, 2 times (last on 4/27/85)
Most Runs Scored in a Game by Opponent 15 runs (5/9/86)
Largest Margin of Victory 20 runs (4/27/85)
Largest Margin of Defeat 8 runs, 2 times (last on 5/3/08)
UC SANTA BARBARA NOTES: The Gauchos are currently 2-4 in Big West Conference play after dropping their first two conference series' against Hawai'i and Cal Poly respectively. Despite that, the Gauchos have won 20 of their 27 games this year and boast one of the best offenses in the nation. The Gauchos are currently batting .307 as a team to lead the conference. The mark is also good for No. 14 in the nation.
The Gauchos are led by Joey Epperson, who comes into the series batting a scorching .462, having started in all 27 games for UC Santa Barbara this year. Epperson is slugging .615 and has belted three home runs to go along with five doubles and one triple. He is also second on the team with 11 stolen bases in 13 attempts. The Gauchos are also off to their best home start since 1984 after winning 12 of their first 15 games at Caesar Uyesaka Stadium.
SOMETHING'S GOTTA GIVE: This weekend's series will see the top offense in the Big West Confernece face off against the best pitching staff in the conference. Cal State Fullerton's staff boasts the conference's best ERA with a mark of 2.08, well ahead of second-place UC Irvine's 2.51 ERA. The Titans are also allowing opponents to hit just .225 against them and allowed 217 hits, both top marks in the Big West.
The Gauchos come in with an offense ranked in the top-15 in the nation as they are batting a collective .307 on the season, tops in the Big West. The Gauchos also lead the conference in slugging percentage (.417), on-base percentage (.400) and home runs (13).
THE RULE OF THREE: The Titans have won three straight games after their victory over UCLA on Tuesday. That streak came after Cal State Fullerton had dropped three in a row for the second time this year. The Titans also have two three-game winning streaks this year to go along with a season-high five-game win streak earlier in the year.
STREAKING: Junior J.D. Davis saw his nine-game hitting streak come to an end on Tuesday against UCLA, but the Elk Grove, Calif. native did get on base twice in that game to make it 10 straight games in which he has reached safely. Tanner Pinkston has the best current streak on the team, having reached safely in 12 straight games, one shy of the team's season-high held by Matt Chapman who reached safely in his first 13 games to start the year. Chapman is currently working on two streaks, having reached in seven straight games to go along with a five-game hitting streak.
BRING 'EM IN BUNDLES: Matt Chapman and J.D. Davis currently lead the Titans with seven multi-RBI games apiece. The Titans 3-and-4-hole hitters lead the team in RBIs, with Chapman holding a 23-22 lead over Davis in the category. Chapman has driven in two runs in three games and three runs in four while Davis has seven two-RBI games this season.
PINKSTON HITTING IN BUNCHES: Sophomore Tanner Pinkston has had a stellar second season with the Titans. He is second on the team with a .330 batting average going into the weekend and leads the squad with 10 multi-hit games. He went 2-for-4 with a RBI and a run scored in Tuesday's win over UCLA. Pinkston also helped spark the Titans current three-game winning streak when he went 3-for-4 with two runs scored and an RBI in Saturday's win over UC Davis.
MORE OF THE SAME: Sophomore Thomas Eshelman continues to excel on the mound for the Titans in his second year, leading the team with seven quality starts. The right-hander also leads the nation with a 48:1 strikeout-to-walk ratio and is second in the country in walks allowed per nine innings (0.14), trailing Ryan Castellanos of Illinois who has not surrendered a free pass in 34 innings. Eshelman is ninth in the nation with a 0.75 WHIP and leads the Big West Confernece in all those categories.
THE KOBY SYSTEM: Junior Koby Gauna has been outstanding for the Titans in whatever role he has been called upon. The right-hander is currently 1-1 with a 1.45 ERA in 37.1 innings pitched, the biggest workload for any Titans pitcher with one start or less. In his only start of the year, Gauna allowed one unearned run on three hits in 5 and 2/3 innings, walked one and struck out four. He is also tied for the team lead with three saves after closing out the Titans 5-1 victory at Wichita State on Mar. 28. Gauna has allowed seven runs in 14 appearances and has struck out 35 hitters, the fourth most on the team. He has allowed just four walks and his 8.75 strikeout-to-walk ratio ranks him 15th in the nation, one of three Titans ranked in the top-40.
NO FREE PASSES HERE: Through games played up to April 9, the Titans pitching staff has made sure to pound the strike zone. Cal State Fullerton's pitching ranks No. 1 in the nation in walks allowed per nine innings, giving up just 1.47 free passes a game in 264 innings pitched. Houston is second with a 1.57 walks per game avearge.
TOP-1O STAFF: The Cal State Fullerton pitching staff continues to impress as they are ranked in the top-10 of a number of categories. Along with leading the nation in walks allowed per nine innings, Titans pitching also ranks first in strikeout-to-walk ratio. The Titans have fanned 243 batters in 264 innings while allowing just 43 walks, a mark of 5.65. Houston ranks second with a 4.12 mark. The Titans are also ranked third in the nation in WHIP (0.98), and are fifth in the country with a 2.08 ERA.
IN THE SPOTLIGHT: Cal State Fullerton will have 12 of its games broadcast on ESPN3 this season, the Big West Conference announced Wednesday. A total of 19 Big West baseball games will be carried on ESPN3 with the Titans making up the bulk of the schedule beginning with this weekend's non-conference series against Long Beach State at Goodwin Field.
Of the 12 Titans games on ESPN3, 11 of them will take place at Goodwin Field. The Titans Big West Conference opener against UC Davis on April 4 will be showcased on the network. Other games on the television schedule for the network include the opening game of the Titans home series against Hawaii on April 25, the entire series with UC Riverside from May 9-11 and the final series of the season against Cal State Northridge from May 22-24. The lone road game for the Titans featured on ESPN3 will be their series opener at UC Irvine on May 16.
SUPPORTING THE TITANS: According to this week's attendance report released by the NCBWA, Cal State Fullerton is ranked 31st in avearage attendance. The Titans had drawn an average of 2,093 fans in 16 home games this season. The Titans have attraceted a total of 33,490 fans to Goodwin Field at the time of the report released Monday, ranking them 32nd in the nation.
CENTURY MARK: Cal State Fullerton head coach Rick Vanderhook earned his 100th career head coaching victory when the Titans edged Long Beach State 6-5 on Sunday afternoon at Goodwin Field. Vanderhook became the second fastest head coach in Titans baseball history to reach the mark, doing so in 139 games. Augie Garrido reached 100 wins in 135 games and it took George Horton 147 games to earn his 100th win with the Titans.
SMART BASEBALL: Junior outfielder Austin Diemer was named the Big West Conference Male Scholar-Athlete of the Year, it was announced on March 3.
In 2013, Diemer was named to the Capital One Academic All-District VIII Team and to the Big West Conference All-Academic Team. The Communications/Broadcast Journalism major participates in the annual "Challenger Clinic", working closely with individuals with special needs, and he volunteered at the Barnyard Wiffle Ball Invitational. Carrying a 3.77 GPA, Diemer has earned Dean's List honors in each of his semesters as a Titan.
BENCH AWARD WATCH LIST: Titans backstop Jared Deacon was one of 43 catchers named to the initial Johnny Bench Award Watch List on March 6. He was the only catcher from the Big West Conference named to the list. He is looking to become the first Titans catcher to win the award since Kurt Suzuki took home the honor in 2004.
PICKED TO WIN IT: Cal State Fullerton was picked as the favorite to win the 2014 Big West title as selected by the nine conference head coaches that voted in the Big West Baseball Preseason Coaches Poll, it was released by the league on Jan. 30. The Titans were voted to defend their Big West title as the program garnered eight of the nine available first-place votes. Fullerton, winner of the past four league titles, captured the 2013 league crown with a 23-4 mark, one game ahead of Cal Poly. Fullerton has won 11 conference championships in the Super Regional era (dating back to 1999; 15 years), sharing the titles with Nevada in 2000 and Long Beach State in 2008.
BUILDING ON EXCELLENCE: Sophomore Thomas Eshelman enters his sophomore year after an outstanding freshman campaign which earned him seven All-American nods and three freshman pitcher of the year awards. Eshelman's rookie season was one of the best in Fullerton history as he set a new Titans single-season record with a 27.7 strikeout-to-walk ratio after striking out 86 while issuing just three walks in 115.2 innings pitched. His 0.23 walks per nine innings set a new NCAA record and he also He also set Fullerton freshman records in innings pitched and ERA with a 1.48 mark, which ranks second in Cal State Fullerton all-time single season history.
TITANS PRESEASON HONORS: The Titans will enter the 2014 season with a boatload of accolades on their belt. Cal State Fullerton was selected as the No. 1 team in the nation by three preseason polls (USA Today Coaches, Collegiate Baseball, National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association) to go along with a No. 2 rank in the Perfect Game Preseason Top 25 poll and a No. 4 selection in Baseball America's preseason poll. Along with the team accolades, several Titans received preseason All-American honors. Thomas Eshelman received preseason All-American First Team selections from the NCBWA and Collegiate Baseball. Justin Garza was selected to the first team on the NCBWA and Collegiate Baseball Preseason All-American teams and a third-team selection in Baseball America's Preseason All-American team. Matt Chapman and J.D. Davis were each named Second-Team Preseason All-Americans by Baseball America.
STRENGTH OF SCHEDULE: In 2014, the Titans will play five opponents that advanced to the 2013 Division I Baseball tournament (Oregon, San Francisco, San Diego, Wichita State, UCLA). Of those opponents, UCLA advanced to the Super Regionals where they defeated the Titans on their way to the College World Series championship…CSF will play three opponents that finished 2013 ranked in Baseball America's Top-25 (No. 1 UCLA, No. 17 Oregon, No. 23 San Diego)…four of Fullerton's opponents were ranked in the top-50 of the NCAA's final top-50 2013 RPI ratings (No. 9 UCLA, No. 11 Oregon, No. 28 Cal Poly, No. 39 San Diego ).
CONTINUED EXCELLENCE: The Titans have won 30-plus games in each of its 39 seasons at the Div. I level and are tied for third in the nation when it comes to most consecutive 30-win campaigns. The only Titan team to win as few as 30 games was the 1989 squad skippered by Larry Cochell. The Titans have never had a losing season at the Div. I level. Fullerton comes in tied for third with Clemson and behind Arizona State and Miami. Pepperdine, which was ranked No. 5, saw its 32-year streak ended in 2010.
Consecutive 30+ win seasons (active)
1. Arizona State 51
2. Miami, Fla. 43
3. Cal State Fullerton 39
THE ROOKIES: Cal State Fullerton's 2014 class was ranked the No. 12 recruiting class in the nation, according to Baseball America's annual evaluation.
Under third-year head coach Rick Vanderhook and recruiting coordinator Mike Kirby, the Titans have welcomed 11 freshmen to Goodwin Field. Fullerton's 2014 class was the only one ranked amongst Big West Conference opponents and one of only three programs from California ranked in the top-25 along with No. 22 Loyola Marymount and No. 24 USC. Collegiate Baseball ranked Fullerton's 2014 recruiting class at No. 7.
From Baseball America's top-25 breakdown, two of Fullerton's 2014 opponents also had ranked recruiting classes; No. 7 Oregon (Feb. 28-Mar. 2) and No. 24 USC (Feb. 18, May 20).
DRAFT DODGERS: Seven Titans on the current roster have been selected previously in the MLB First-Year Players draft. Phil Bickford was selected with the 10th overall pick in the 2013 MLB Draft by the Toronto Blue Jays while Timmy Richards was taken in the 40th round by the Miami Marlins.
TITANS IN THE DRAFT (by round):
Phil Bickford 2013 1st round Toronto Blue Jays
J.D. Davis 2011 5th round Tampa Bay Rays
Austin Diemer 2011 26th round Cleveland Indians
Justin Garza 2012 26th round Cleveland Indians
Jake Jefferies 2012 34th round Washington Nationals
Timmy Richards 2013 40th round Miami Marlins
David Olmedo-Barrera 2012 40th round Oakland Athletics
TOP 50 FRESHMAN: Phil Bickford was ranked as the top freshman by Baseball America in the publication's evaluation of the top 50 freshmen in college baseball released in early February. In addition, Bickford was named the top prospect in the Big West Conference for the 2016 MLB Draft by Perfect Game, who predicted he would be selected in the first or second round.
TOP 100 FRESHMAN: Phil Bickford was also ranked as the top freshman in the country in Perfect Game's evaluation of the top 100 freshman in the country.
TOP 50 SOPHOMORES: Ontario, Calif. native Justin Garza was ranked No. 12 by Baseball America in the publication's evaluation of the top 50 sophomores in college baseball. Garza, the 2013 Big West Pitcher of the Year, was also picked as the No. 1 prospect in the Big West Conference for the 2015 MLB Draft. Thomas Eshelman, the 2013 Big West Freshman Pitcher of the Year, was considered the third-best prospect in the Big West Conference for the 2015 draft.
TOP 100 SOPHOMORES: Justin Garza and Thomas Eshelman were also ranked in Perfect Game's evaluation of the top 100 sophomores in the country. Garza came in at No. 17 while Eshelman was ranked at No. 30. In addition, Perfect Game ranked Garza and Eshelman as the No. 1 and No. 2 prospects respectively from the Big West Conference for the 2015 MLB Draft.
TOP 50 JUNIORS: Matt Chapman was ranked No. 14 by Baseball America in the publication's evaluation of the top 50 juniors in college baseball while J.D. Davis was ranked No 20. Chapman, a 2013 Big West All Second Team selection, was also selected as the No. 1 prospect from the Big West Conference for the 2014 MLB Draft. Davis, a 2013 Big West First Team Selection, was ranked as the No. 3 prospect from the Big West Conference for the 2014 MLB Draft.
TOP 100 JUNIORS: Matt Chapman and J.D. Davis were also ranked in the top 40 of Perfect Game's evaluation of the top 100 juniors in college baseball. Chapman was ranked No. 16 while Davis placed No. 40. Furthermore, Perfect Game ranked Chapman as the top prospect from the Big West Conference for the 2014 MLB Draft and predicted he would be drafted in the first or second round. Davis was ranked as the fourth best prospect from the Big West Conference for the 2014 MLB Draft and was predicted to be taken in the second or third round.
TITANS IN THE BIG LEAGUES: The Titans have had 53 former players ascend to the major leagues since their first products, Dan Whitmer and Tim Wallach, got there in 1980. Khris Davis became the 53rd player in 2013 when he made his MLB debut on April 1st in a pinch-hitting appearance for the Milwaukee Brewers. Davis would go on to play in 56 games and make 30 starts in left field. He hit .279 with 11 home runs and 27 RBIs in 136 at-bats. He posted 10 doubles and a .949 OPS. Davis was one of eight former Titans (Kurt Suzuki, Justin Turner, Ricky Romero, Vinnie Pestano, Brett Pill, Reed Johnson, Mark Kotsay) to play a MLB game in 2013. Davis is currently listed at the top of the Brewers depth chart in left field for the 2014 season. In his three seasons (2007-09) as a Titan, Davis played in 150 games, starting in 122 of them, an hit .296 with 20 home runs and 92 RBIs. He also stole 32 bases in 36 attempts.