Stillwater Regional Preview
CATCH ALL THE ACTION:
Television: All games of the Stillwater Regional will be available on the ESPN family of networks (ESPNU/ESPN3). Friday's opening game between Cal State Fullerton and Nebraska will be aired on ESPNU. Check www.FullertonTitans.com for further updates.
Streaming Video: ESPN3/WatchESPN
Audio Webcast: www.FullertonTitans.com for all of Cal State Fullerton's games during the regional.
Live Stats: Live in-game stats will be available at www.FullertonTitans.com.
SOCIAL MEDIA: Follow @BaseballTitans on Twitter for daily updates during the 2014 season.
Cal State Fullerton will travel to the Stillwater Regional hosted by Oklahoma State for the 68th annual NCAA Division I Baseball Championship, it was announced by the Division I Baseball Committee on Monday.
The third seed in the four-team Regional, Fullerton will play the bracket's second seed, Nebraska, at 10 a.m. PT on Friday with the game televised on ESPNU. The Regional's No. 1 seed is Oklahoma State, and the Cowboys will play No. 4 seed Binghamton at 4 pm PT on ESPN3.
The Stillwater Regional is paired with the Corvallis Regional, which is home to the overall No. 1 seed Oregon State, UNLV, UC Irvine and North Dakota State.
The Titans (32-22, 14-10 Big West) ended the year fourth in the Big West Conference standings, and were in jeopardy of missing the postseason before ending the regular season on a seven-game winning streak, the team's longest of the year.
Fullerton's postseason push included a road series sweep of UC Irvine (May 16-18) which drove the team's RPI up 31 spots. The Titans ended the year with a three-game sweep of Cal State Northridge, and Fullerton has won 10 of its last 12 games, outscoring opponents 67-21 during that stretch.
TITANS HISTORY IN THE POSTSEASON
Fullerton has made 36 NCAA appearances in its 40 years at the Division I level, and the current string of 23 consecutive appearances is third longest in the nation behind Miami (42) and Florida State (37). The Titans boast a record of 144-76 in the postseason, including a record of 94-39 in Regional action.
Since 1999, with the addition of the Super Regional format, Fullerton holds a record of 42-12 in Regional play, winning 11 Regional brackets in 15 appearances. The Titans have never gone winless in Regional play.
Overall, Fullerton has won 20 Regional titles - including a national-best 11 on the road (two each in Fresno and Baton Rouge and one each at USC, Austin, Starkville, Stillwater, South Bend, Tempe and San Diego).
In 2013, Fullerton finished its Regional bracket with a record of 3-0 recording wins over Columbia and Arizona State (twice), with the advantage of hosting at Goodwin Field. The Titans advanced to the Fullerton Super Regional, and lost back-to-back games to eventual 2013 College World Series champion UCLA.
ON THE ROAD TO OMAHA
Fullerton last traveled for regional play in 2012 as the No. 2 seed at the Eugene Regional hosted by the University of Oregon. The Titans finished the bracket 1-2 with losses to Oregon and Austin Peay.
In 2007, Cal State Fullerton traveled to San Diego as the No. 2 seed at the San Diego Regional held at Tony Gwynn Stadium. Fullerton opened play with a 7-1 victory over Minnesota and went on to defeat the bracket's fourth seed, Fresno State, 6-4. Fullerton won the San Diego Regional with a 13-2 victory over the Bulldogs in the final. The Titans went on to sweep UCLA in the Fullerton Super Regional to advance to the College World Series. The Titans left the CWS winless falling to Oregon State, 3-2, and UC Irvine, 5-4, in 13 innings.
NOT ONE, NOT TWO...
The last time Fullerton entered the NCAA Tournament lower than a No. 1 or No. 2 seed in its respective bracket was 2002. The Titans traveled to the Palo Alto Regional hosted by Stanford at Sunken Diamond and as the No. 4 seed, opened the tournament with a 3-2 loss to the Cardinal in 13 innings. Fullerton stayed alive with a 9-1 victory over San Jose State, before being eliminated in a 4-0 loss to Long Beach State.
A BIT ABOUT NEBRASKA (No. 3 Seed)
• Location: Lincoln Nebraska
• Coach: Darin Erstad, Third Season
• Tournament Berth: The Cornhuskers make their 13th appearance in the NCAA Tournament after receiving an at-large bid. It's their first since 2008, which was the last of four consecutive trips.
• Series History: In six games against Nebraska dating back to 1984, the Titans are undefeated against the Cornhuskers, including four wins against Nebraska in 2013. Nebraska and Fullerton played one another once in the postseason with Fullerton recording a 5-4 victory at the College World Series on June 8, 2001.
•The Cornhuskers enter Friday's opener ranked in all four major polls, including a No. 19 rank from Baseball America. They are 34th in the country with 351 runs scored this season and are 33rd in the nation with a .293 collective batting average.
• The Cornhuskers have six hitters batting .300 or better, led by Blake Headley and Ben Miller who each boast a .319 average. Pat Kelly comes in with a .312 batting average and leads the team with four home runs and 55 RBI.
• On the mound, Nebraska brings in a rotation that accumulated a 3.55 ERA. Chance Sinclair leads the team with a 9-1 record and a 2.29 ERA in 94.1 innings pitched.
• Defensively, the Cornhuskers were one of the best teams in the nation, ranking 18th in the nation with a .977 fielding percentage.
A BIT ABOUT OKLAHOMA STATE (No. 1 Seed)
• Location: Stillwater, Okla.
• Coach: Josh Holiday, second season
• Tournament Berth: The Cowboys make their 40th appearance at the NCAA Tournament after being selected as one of the 16 regional hosts in 2014.
• Series History: Oklahoma State holds a 4-3 all-time record against Cal State Fullerton with the last meeting in 2009 as the Cowboys and Titans split a pair of games in Stillwater. Fullerton visited Stillwater, Okla., for postseason play in 1994, emerging as the Regional winner with a record of 4-1, including a 10-inning, 6-5, victory over Oklahoma State in the Regional final.
•The 2014 Stillwater Regional will mark the 11th OSU has hosted at Allie P. Reynolds Stadium and the first since 2008. The Cowboys are 33-11 all time in Regional play on their current home field and have won six Regional titles, the last coming in 1993.
• The Cowboys have exhibited a very patient approach at the plate this season, drawing 305 walks, which ranks third in the nation. They can play small-ball as they rank fourth in the country in sacrifice bunts but can also slug it out as they rank 10th in the nation with 49 home runs.
• For the Cowboys, Gage Green leads the way offensively with a .321 batting average while Zach Fish has provided the pop in the lineup with a team-best 11 home runs and 44 RBI. On the mound, the Cowboys are led by Jon Perrin, who tallied a 7-4 record with a 1.78 ERA.
A BIT ABOUT BINGHAMTON (No. 4 Seed)
• Location: Vestal, N.Y.
• Coach: Tim Sinicki, 22nd season
• Tournament Berth: The Bearcats won the America East Conference tournament for the second straight season and will make their third appearance in the last six seasons.
• Series History: The Titans and Bearcats have never faced each other.
•The Bearcats are led offensively by Bill Bereszniewicz, who finished the regular season with a .360 batting average and five triples, both leading the team. Jake Thomas and Daniel Nevares led the way with the power numbers, combining to hit 11 home runs and collect 70 RBI.
TITANS AND THE BIG WEST: The Titans finished fourth in the Big West Conference in 2014, bringing an end to their four-year reign atop the conference standings. Overall, Cal State Fullerton has totaled 27 conference championships dating back to 1975, including 11 in the last 16 years. With last season's title, the Titans made their 35th postseason appearance as well.
Cal State Fullerton has posted a dominant 709-249-1 (.739) overall conference record over 40 seasons. Rick Vanderhook, the school's fifth Div. I head coach, won two straight Big West crowns in 2012 and 2013, 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 prior to 2014.
WEEKENDS AT FULLERTON: The Titans' weekend rotation accumulated a 1.92 ERA during the regular season. Thomas Eshelman (1.92), Justin Garza (2.51) and Grahamm Wiest (1.55) combined to allow 62 earned runs in 290 innings pitched.
WALKS ARE NOT AN OPTION: The Titans pitching staff has made sure to pound the strike zone during the regular season. Cal State Fullerton's pitching ranked No. 1 in the nation in walks allowed per nine innings, giving up just 1.46 free passes a game in 510.1 innings pitched. Houston was second with a 1.77 walks per game average. In their sweep of Hawaii, Titans pitchers did not allow a walk for the first time in a three-game series this season and followed that with just one free pass in their series at Long Beach State the very next week.
TOP-OF THE CLASS: The Cal State Fullerton pitching staff finished the regular season ranked at the top of a number of pitching statistical categories. They finished first in the nation with a 2.03 ERA, which would also rank as the best mark in school history. The Titans also finished first in the country in WHIP (1.00) and strikeout-to-walk ratio (5.20).
ESHELMAN: Thomas Eshelman followed up his excellent freshman season with an outstanding sophomore campaign for the Titans. He finished the regular season with an 8-3 record and a 1.92 ERA. He led the nation with a 0.54 walks allowed per nine innings average as well as a 13.43 strikeout-to-walk ratio (94 Ks : 7 BB). He ranked first in the Big West Conference and 10th in the nation with five complete games and also led the conference with a 0.85 WHIP, which placed him eighth overall in the nation. He pitched a 10-inning complete-game shutout on Apr. 25, a feat which garnered him four player of the week honors. Eshelman was named one of the Louisville Slugger National Players of the Week by Collegiate Baseball and the National Pitcher of the Week by the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association (NCBWA). The Carlsbad, Calif. native also received recognition from the NCAA as one of the top performers of the week and also received Big West Conference Pitcher of the Week honors.
GARZA: Sophomore Justin Garza became the fourth Cal State Fullerton pitcher to toss a no-hitter on May 23 as he held Cal State Northridge without a base hit. Garza was the first Titans pitcher to accomplish the feat since 2001 when Kirk Saarloos no-hit Pacific in a 28-0 victory. Garza walked three and struck out 12, matching his career high. He also tossed his first career complete game in the process. Garza finished the year with a 5-3 record and a 2.51 ERA. He is 17-3 in his two-year career at Cal State Fullerton and he has not lost when the Titans score in his starts as all three of his losses have come by way of shutout.
WIEST: Grahamm Wiest was the veteran on the Titans dominant pitching staff. The red-shirt junior posted a career-best 1.55 ERA during the regular season, ranking him fourth in the Big West and 27th in the nation. He was also second in the conference with a 6.75 strikeout-to-walk ratio, which also placed him 11th in the nation. Wiest was one of two pitchers to throw 10 innings in a game this season for the Titans and the only one to get a no-decision for his efforts. He also tossed four complete games to rank second in the Big West behind Eshelman and 28th in the country. He capped off the year with a three-hit shutout of Cal State Northridge on the final day of the regular season.
LIFE ON THE EDGE: The Titans played 25 one-run games this season, the most in the nation. They went 12-13 in those games after winning two straight one-run decisions in their critical sweep at UC Irvine.
WORKING OVERTIME: The Titans played their 11th extra-inning game of the season on May 18, defeating UC Irvine in 10 innings. The 11 extra-inning games are the most played by a Titans squad since the 2004 National Championship team played seven. They are currently 5-6 in extra-inning games this season. In addition, the Titans have played the longest game in the program's recorded history (19 innings on Feb. 21 vs. San Francisco). The Titans have also played 36 extra frames in 2014, the equivalent of four full games.
JOHN OLERUD AWARD WATCH LIST: Cal State Fullerton's J.D. Davis was named to the John Olerud Two-Way Player of the Year Award Watch List on May 20. The award is presented annually by the College Baseball Foundation to honor the nation's top combo pitcher-position player. Davis finished the season on a 12-game hitting streak and has been scorching hot at the plate. He blasted two home runs in support of Garza's no-hitter. During the hitting streak, the Elk Grove, Calif. native is 24-for-52 (.462) with a .788 slugging percentage thanks to seven doubles, two triples and two home runs. Davis has also driven in 11 RBI in that span and the Titans are 10-2 during the hit streak.
CHAPMAN ON FIRE: Titans third baseman Matt Chapman was listed as the No. 64 prospect for the upcoming MLB Draft by Baseball America on May 14. Chapman has been on a roll for the Titans of late, picking up his batting average to .321 after having it slip to .261 on Apr. 4. Since then, Chapman is 38-for-102 (.373) in 29 games with a .588 slugging percentage and .472 on-base percentage. He has three home runs in that stretch to go along with nine doubles, two triples and 29 RBI.
WILLIAMSON GETTING ON BASE: Outfielder Clay Williamson has been an on-base machine for the Titans over the last month. He has reached base safely in 27 consecutive games, the longest streak by a Titans player this season. He had a 13-game hitting streak at one point and during that 27-game streak, Williamson is batting .317 with 32 hits, 11 walks and a .417 on-base percentage. He's also been hit by seven pitches and has two triples.
QUALITY WORK: The Titans have had 36 quality starts by their starting pitching this season. Thomas Eshelman leads the group with 13 while Grahamm Wiest is close behind with 11 outings of going at least six innings and allowing three runs or less.
GIVE THEM A 10: Thomas Eshelman became the first Titans pitcher to toss 10 innings since Jason Windsor did so in a 2-1 victory over Jared Weaver and Long Beach State on May 21, 2004. Eshelman tossed a complete-game shutout in the team's 10-inning walk-off victory over Hawaii on Friday night. Two days later, Grahamm Wiest followed Eshelman's lead as the red-shirt junior went 10 frames and throwing just 106 pitches in the process. The Titans were unable to reward Wiest with a pitcher-win but they would eventually secure the sweep over Hawaii on Jared Deacon's walk-off bunt-single in the 11th inning.
DIEMER EARNS ACADEMIC ALL-DISTRICT: Titans outfielder Austin Diemer was named to the 2014 Capital One Academic All-District VIII First Team on May 1. It was his second consecutive selection after being named to the team in 2013 as a sophomore. The Communications/Broadcast Journalism major currently boasts a 3.77 GPA and has earned Dean's List honors in each of his semesters as a Titan.
SUPPORTING THE TITANS: According to this week's attendance report released by the NCBWA, Cal State Fullerton is ranked 35th in average attendance. The Titans had drawn an average of 2,020 fans in 29 home games this season. The Titans attracted a total of 57,459 fans to Goodwin Field at the time of the report released Monday, ranking them 33rd 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 Mar. 23 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.
BUILDING ON EXCELLENCE: Sophomore Thomas Eshelman entered 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 entered 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 40 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 52
2. Miami, Fla. 44
3. Cal State Fullerton 40
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.