Fullerton Opens Up with Top-Ranked Florida

Feb. 14, 2012

THIS WEEK IN TITAN BASEBALL:
Friday, Feb. 17, at No. 1 Florida (McKethan Stadium), 4 p.m. PT
Saturday, Feb. 18, at No. 1 Florida (McKethan Stadium), 1 p.m. PT
Sunday, Feb. 19, at No. 1 Florida (McKethan Stadium), 11 a.m. PT

CATCH ALL THE ACTION:
Audio for all three games of the Fullerton-Florida series will be streamed for free on fullertontitans.com.

You can track the games as well via GameTracker. You can find links to each game on the baseball schedule at fullertontitans.com.

All three games of the series will be video streamed by via GatorVision at gatorzone.com. A subscription will be required.

Friday night's game will be televised by Fox Sports Florida.

PROJECTED PITCHING MATCH-UPS
Friday
CSF: RHP Dylan Floro (2011: 4-2, 4.23 ERA, 39 K)
UF: RHP Hudson Randall (2011: 11-3, 2.17 ERA, 73 K)

Saturday
CSF: Grahamm Wiest (2011: Redshirt, did not play)
UF: Karston Whitson (2011: 8-1, 2.40 ERA, 92 K)

Sunday
CSF: TBA
UF: Brian Johnson (2011: 8-3, 3.62 ERA, 72 K)

PLAY BALL:The Rick Vanderhook Era will begin this weekend as the No. 25 Titans open up with a three-game series against the consensus No. 1 Florida Gators in Gainesville, Fla.

Game Notes: Week 1Get Acrobat Reader

The Titans are coming off a "down year" by the program's standards, finishing with a very respectable 41-17 overall record, but without a Super Regional appearance for the first time since 2002.

Then, for the second time in five years, they had to be remolded by a new head coach. Dave Serrano, the Titan skipper from 2008-11, left for the University of Tennessee shortly after the Titans' final game, leaving the Titans looking for its fifth Div. I head coach.

Enter the long-time Fullerton assistant coach Vanderhook who returns to Fullerton with nearly three decades of coaching experience, a lifetime of postseason appearances and three College World Series championship rings in his possession. "Hook" had spent the last three years assisting John Savage at UCLA, but in short time has returned to put his stamp on the program he has been part of for 24 years as a player and coach.

Vanderhook inherited a pitching staff gutted by professional signings but does have a veteran offensive lineup headed by outfielder Michael Lorenzen, last year's Big West freshman of the year, and the very capable bat of Carlos Lopez. Dylan Floro, the only member of the pitching staff with any heft to his resume, will headline a very young and inexperienced pitching staff.

Pitching Coach Kirk Saarloos and Vanderhook will have to replace 432 of the 509 innings of a year ago, but have a number of quality arms that can step up and fill in the holes.

The Titans go to The Sunshine State for the second time in their history poised to take on the No. 1 team in the country. The Gators are coming off a 53-19 season in which they lost the CWS championship series to South Carolina, and are loaded for another deep run in Omaha. Florida is loaded with seven preseason All-Americans according to Baseball America.

VERSUS FLORIDA: The Titans and Gators have never gone head-to-head in a game before. Both teams appeared in the 1988 College World Series together but were placed in opposite brackets. The Titans were paired with Miami, Stanford and Fresno State, while the Gators battled in the Arizona State, Wichita State and Cal bracket. The Gators, coached by Joe Arnold then, went 1-2 in the series with a win over Cal and losses to Wichita State and Arizona State. Fullerton won its first two games against Miami and Stanford, but lost back-to-back contests to the eventual national champion Cardinal.

VERSUS THE SEC: The Titans are 20-12 all-time against the current line-up of Southeastern Conference schools. Eighteen of those contests have come in postseason play with the Titans going 13-5. Ten of the postseason meetings were played in Omaha at the College World Series and saw the Titans victorious in eight of the ten. Here's an al-time breakdown of the Titans against the SEC Eastern Division: vs. Florida (0-0), vs. Georgia (0-0), vs. Kentucky (0-0), vs. South Carolina (2-1, 2-1 at the CWS), vs. Tennessee (3-0, 2-0 at the CWS), and vs. Vanderbilt (0-0). And here's the all-time breakdown against the SEC Western Division: vs. Alabama (3-3), vs. Arkansas (3-1, 2-1 at the CWS), vs. Auburn (0-0), vs. LSU (4-6, 2-0 at the CWS), vs. Mississippi State (5-1) and vs. Ole Miss (0-0).

IN THE SUNSHINE STATE: The Titans have had a tendency to head into the state of Florida while its teams are firmly in the nation's Top 10. Fullerton is 4-5 all-time at Florida State with the last meeting in Tallahassee coming in 1997, when they squared off against J.D. Drew and the No. 1 Seminoles and lost the series, 2-1. They also had series against the Seminoles in 1989 (1-2) and 1993 (2-1). At Miami, the Titans are 4-2 all-time against the Hurricanes in Coral Gables. The Titans went 1-2 against Pat Burrell and Joey Cora's No. 6 Hurricanes in 1996 needing at least one win to sneak into the postseason. And the last time the Titans traveled to The Sunshine State, they became the first team in the history of Mark Light Stadium to sweep the Hurricanes in a three-game series. The Hurricanes were the No. 4 team in the country at the time. Current Titan pitching coach Kirk Saarloos pitched the Sunday affair, picking up his seventh consecutive win while pitching his sixth complete game of the year.

SEASON OPENERS: Cal State Fullerton is 20-17 all-time in season openers but just 3-11 in openers occurring on the road! The last time the Titans opened on the road was in 2008 in Fort Worth, Tex., at TCU. Fullerton won the first and last contest of the series, finishing the weekend 2-1. The Titans' last victory on Opening Day came in 2009 with a 7-6 victory over TCU. The Titans have lost to Oregon (7-3 at home) and North Carolina (4-3 in 11 innings at home) in each of the last two years, respectively.

MORE ON SEASON OPENERS: Florida will be the Titans' 18th Opening Day opponent dating back to 1975. Stanford has had the privilege of being the Titans' first opponent 15 times over 37 seasons (the most by any team), but for just the 9th time in the history of the Fullerton baseball program, The Titans will not face the Cardinal during regular season play. TCU, Cal State Northridge, Cal Poly Pomona, and St. Mary's are only other teams to play Fullerton more than once on opening day.

AGAINST TOP-RANKED TEAMS: Since 1981, the Titans have had their fair share of time facing Baseball America's No. 1 team in the nation. Over the years they have squared off with the hottest team in the regular season 12 times over 11 different seasons accounting for 33 games and have gone 12-21 in those affairs. The Titans faced two No. 1 teams in 1997. The last time the Titans faced a No. 1 team came in 2008, when they dropped a series in Tucson, 2 games to 1 against the Wildcats (Mar. 14-16, 2008). The last time the Titans won a series against a top-ranked team came in 2005, when they went into New Orleans and beat Tulane 2 games to 1, including a 15-1 blowout in the Friday night game. The Titans seemed to have caught Stanford quite a few weekends when they were at the top... five to be exact. Against the Cardinal, Fullerton is 5-9. Fullerton's top-ranked opponents include: Arizona State (2-0 at home, 1981), Texas (0-3 on the road, 1985; 0-3 on the road, 1986), Georgia Tech (0-1 at a neutral site, 1993; 1-0 at home, 1994), Stanford (2-1 at home, 1995; 2-1 at homes, 1997; 0-2 on the road, 1998; 0-3 on the road, 2000; 1-2 on the road, 2002), Florida State (1-2 on the road, 1997), Tulane (2-1 on the road, 2005), and Arizona (1-2 on the road, 2008).

REMEMBERING THE TITANS: In their final tune up last Saturday, the Titans defeated a strong alumni team, 3-2. A total of 19 current or former major leaguers were present including Titan pitching coach Kirk Saarloos.

Four Titan pitchers combined to check the alumni on 5 hits. Freshman left-hander Kenny Mathews from Diamond Bar High School got the win with three shutout innings. Redshirt freshman Grahamm Wiest started and allowed one run and two hits over four innings. Junior Dimitri DeLaFuente pitched a scoreless eighth and freshman Jose Cardona got the save allowing only a tainted run in the ninth.

Junior Carlos Lopez led the varsity with a 3-for-3 effort at the plate and junior Austin Kingsolver went 2-for-2 with a triple to lead a 13-hit attach against six alumni hurlers. Ageless left-hander Eddie Delzer, winner of the 1984 NCAA championship game, started and tossed two shutout innings. Cory Arbiso (2006-08) followed with two shutout innings but Chris Robinson (1988-91) and Walker Moore (2009-11) each allowed an unearned run in one inning with Moore saddled with the loss. Former Texas Ranger right-hander Wes Littleton (2001-03) pitched a scoreless seventh and former Oakland and Cleveland infielder Mike Rouse (2001) was tagged for an earned run in the eighth.

USA TEAMMATES: Upon entering McKethan Stadium on Friday, Titan centerfielder Michael Lorenzen will be reconnecting with teammates from the 2011 USA Baseball Collegiate National Team. Florida's Nolan Fontana (INF) and Sunday starter Brian Johnson (LHP/INF) were also a part of the CNT that went 11-2-1 last Summer. Lorenzen batted .317 with a home and 10 RBI in all 14 games for the Red, White and Blue. Johnson and Fontana got to play in just a handful of games because of their extended stay at the College World Series. Fontana batted .125 (2-for-16) while Johnson hit .417 (5-for-12) and was 1-0 with a 2.25 ERA in two appearances spanning four innings.

STRENGTH OF SCHEDULE: Cal State Fullerton has the No. 1 non-conference intended strength of schedule according to BoydsWorld.com's preseason evaluation. The Titans' non-conference slate will feature multiple games with the likes of Florida, TCU, Texas A&M, UCLA and Arizona State. Boyd's World also has the Titans starting the season with the 16th toughest slate overall. This weekend's opponent, Florida, comes in with the 5th toughest schedule, large-in-part to the Gators playing in an extremely stacked Southeastern Conference.

PICKED TO WIN IT: Cal State Fullerton baseball garnered six of the nine available first-place votes and have been picked by the coaches as the favorite to win the Big West Conference championship in 2012. Fullerton, winner of the past two league titles, took home the 2011 trophy with a 19-5 mark by three games over rival UC Irvine. Fullerton has won nine conference championships in the Super Regional era (dating back to 1999; 13 years), sharing the titles with Nevada in 2000 and Long Beach State in 2008. Behind Fullerton (76 points, six first-place votes) in the coaches poll is UC Irvine (70 points, 3 first-place votes), Long Beach State (58 points), Cal Poly (54 points), UC Riverside (44 points), UC Santa Barbara (37 points), Pacific (25 points), UC Davis (23 points) and Cal State Northridge (18 points).

TITANS AND THE BIG WEST: Overall, Cal State Fullerton has posted a dominant 655-228-2 (.742) conference record over 37 seasons and has won 25 Div. I conference championships dating back to 1975. Rick Vanderhook, the school's fifth Div. I head coach, will gets his first crack at a Big West crown in 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 14 while playing under the Big West name (1990-91, 94-95, 1997, 1999-2001, 2004-06, 2008, 2010-11). The Big West absorbed the PCAA records in 1990 upon its formation, giving the Titans 17 total Big West championships and a 482-182 (.725; 29 years) PCAA/Big West Conference record.

LORENZEN PRESEASON HONORS: Sophomore centerfielder Michael Lorenzen has been the only titan named in preseason All-American talks among college baseball websites and publications. He had an impressive rookie campaign despite missing about three weeks with a nagging wrist injury. He posted the team's best batting average - beating Carlos Lopez by percentage points - while stealing 19 bases en route to earning the Big West's Freshman Player of the Year Award, ABCA All-West Region recognition, and Freshman All-American status from Collegiate Baseball. The Titan centerfielder also joined a long list of alumni to have played with USA Baseball this past summer. Lorenzen hit .317 with a home run and 10 RBI in 14 games for the Red, White and Blue, helping the Collegiate National Team to an 11-2-1 record. He has been projected by many to be this year's Big West Player of the Year.

HOME GROWN: Thirty-four men on the Titans' 35-man roster list their hometown within the great State of California. The lone Titan not from the Golden State comes from, where else? Nebraska. The Titans are hoping to get freshman Tyler Peitzmeier back home come June. The rookie southpaw is from Yutan, Neb., a city about 25 miles east of the Mecca of college baseball, Omaha.

TOP 50 SOPHOMORES: Anaheim native Michael Lorenzen was ranked 8th by Baseball America in their countdown of the Top 50 Sophomores in college baseball released in early February. Lorenzen was a 7th round draft pick by the Tampa Bay Rays in 2010.

LOOKING AHEAD TO THE 2012 DRAFT: Baseball America ranked its top 100 college athletes eligible for the 2012 draft and Titan right-hander Dylan Floro made the list at No. 62. The list was based on future pro potential and was put together with input from professional scouts and college coaches. Floro was a freshman All-American in 2010 as a swing-man for the Titan pitching staff making 27 appearances and then eight starts filling in for an injured Noe Ramirez and Tyler Pill. He finished his rookie season with a 7-2 record and a 3.26 ERA. In 2011, the Merced, Calif., native worked primarily as a reliever but made four spot starts en rout to a 4-2 record and a 4.23 ERA.

FAMILY AFFAIR: The Titans have seven players on the 2012 roster that have had family members play for Fullerton in the past:
&\#149; Outfielder Anthony Hutting is the cousin of former Titan star and major league outfielder Aaron Rowand (.345, 23 HR, 121 RBI from 1996-98).
&\#149; Infielder Richy Pedroza's older brother, Sergio, was a national champion outfielder for the Titans (.328, 27 HR, 121 RBI from 2003-05).
&\#149; Pitcher Dylan Floro's brother, Brock, pitched for the Titans (1-0, 1.80 in 2009) and served as an undergraduate assistant coach in 2011.
&\#149; Outfielder Austin Kingsolver's father, Kurt, was a national champion catcher in 1979 (.291, 5 HR, 30 RBI in 1979) and was a teammate of College Baseball Hall of Famer Tim Wallach.
&\#149; Catcher Chad Wallach's father, the aforementioned, Tim (.392, 39 HR, 182 RBI), was a national champion, a Golden Spikes Award winner, and a first-round draft pick in 1979. Chad's older brother, and Tim's eldest son, Matt, was also a Titan in 2005 (.255, 5 HR, 28 RBI in 2007) and played first base like his father.
&\#149; Pitcher Dave Birosak's brother, Dustin (0-0, 2.89 ERA), was a relief pitcher for the 2007 Titans.
&\#149; Outfielder Austin Saenz's father, Tom, made four appearances for the 1981 and 1982 Titans and had a career record of 1-0.
&\#149; And to top it all off... Head Coach Rick Vanderhook has had two nephews, Russ (.500, 0 HR, 0 RBI in 1999) and Cory (.304, 1 HR, 17 RBI in 2006) play in a Titan uniform. Coach Vanderhook, himself, was a player in 1983 and 1984.
&\#149; First baseman Carlos Lopez and right-handed pitcher Michael Lopez are of no relation.

TITANS IN THE BIG LEAGUES: The Titans have had 51 former players ascend to the major leagues since their first products, Dan Whitmer and Tim Wallach, got there in 1980. Three former Fullerton players got the call in 2011 taking last year's totals to 10. 1B David Cooper (TOR), INF Blake Davis (BAL) and 1B Brett Pill (SF) got called up last season, joining RHP Vinnie Pestano (CLE), INF Justin Turner (NYM), LHP Ricky Romero (TOR), C Kurt Suzuki (OAK), OF Reed Johnson (CHC), OF Aaron Rowand (SF), and UTIL Mark Kotsay (MIL) already on major league rosters in 2011. Romero was an All-Star for the first time last year and was also the Blue Jays' nomination for the 2011 Roberto Clemente Award.