FULLERTON, Calif. – Cal State Fullerton has been picked to repeat as Big West Champions according to the Big West Coaches poll, the conference announced Wednesday. The Titans earned three first place votes for a total of 70 points.
UC Irvine is ranked second with a total of 67 while Long Beach State comes in at No. 3 with one first place vote and 62 total points.
Fullerton is coming off its 22nd Big West regular season championship in 2018 with a conference record of 18-7. Since 1999, the Titans have won 14 of the 20 Big West Championships. With the conference title and automatic bid to the NCAA tournament, the Titans clinched their 27th straight postseason trip and 40th time in the history of the program.
The Titans lost a lot of talent from last year's squad as seven athletes were selected in the 2018 MLB draft, including Big West Pitcher of the Year Colton Eastman. Fullerton does, however, return seven out of nine field players including the dynamic double-play duo of Hank LoForte and Sahid Valenzuela.
Along with LoForte and Valenzuela the Titans return catcher Daniel Cope, first baseman Jacob Pavletich, third baseman Brett Borgogno, left fielder Jordan Hernandez and center fielder Mitchell Berryhill.
The Titans look to sophomore Tanner Bibee to take over as the Friday night starter with the bulk of their drafted players from last year's squad being pitchers. Bibee finished the 2018 season on a tear, helping the Titans secure the Stanford Regional with a stellar 6.2 innings pitched, while surrendering just two runs on five scattered hits and a career-high 11 strikeouts.
Fullerton also looks to the No. 13 ranked recruiting class to add a spark with freshman Kameron Guangorena, Jackson Lyon, Jason Brandow, Michael Knorr and transfer AJ Curtis leading the charge.
All four made strong debuts in last weeks alumni game as Lyon went 1-for-2 with a RBI and a walk along with some impressive plays in the outfield. Guangorena really opened some eyes as he went 2-for-2 with with one run and a RBI while drawing three walks. AJ Curtis was the hero of the game as he came up with a clutch walk-off single to give the Titans a 5-4 victory over the alumni.
Five time Big West Coach of the Year Rick Vanderhook and the rest of the staff continue to get the team ready for the start of the season at the MLB4 Tournament in Talking Stick, Ariz. where the Titans will face No. 19 TCU, No. 1 Vanderbilt and Virginia.
Fans can purchase tickets to the MLB4 tournament by following the link below.
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