Titans Take on Trojans In Split Weekend Series

March 4, 2011

Fullerton, Calif. - Cal State Fullerton (5-3) jumped to as high as No. 7 (Baseball America) in the National polls this week after a series win against the higher-ranked TCU Horned Frogs last weekend in Fort Worth. After 5-1 midweek win over a hot Loyola Marymount team on Tuesday, the Titans are poised to face USC (3-5) in a broken weekend series (two at home one on the road) after not facing them at all in 2010.

The Titans are currently riding a mini 3-game winning streak large-in-part to a solid pitching staff that helped them go 3-1 last week while the offense hit just .228.

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THIS WEEK:
Fri., Mar. 4, vs. USC (Goodwin Field), 7:00 p.m.
Probable Pitching:
CSF - RHP, Noe Ramirez (1-1, 2.08 ERA)
USC - RHP, Andrew Triggs (0-0, 6.75 ERA)
Follow: GameTracker / Audio / BigWest.TV (subscription)

Sat., Mar. 5, vs. USC (Goodwin Field), 6:00 p.m.
Probable Pitching:
CSF - RHP, Tyler Pill (0-0, 2.19 ERA)
USC - RHP, Austin Wood (1-0, 3.86 ERA)
Follow: GameTracker / Audio / BigWest.TV (subscription)

Sun., Mar. 6, at USC (Dedeaux Field), 1:00 p.m.
Probable Pitching:
CSF - RHP, Colin O'Connell (1-0, 1.29 ERA)
USC - RHP, Logan Odom (0-1, 7.59 ERA)
Follow: GameTracker / Audio / BigWest.TV (subscription)

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TITAN BASEBLOG: Junior right-handed pitcher Jake Floethe will be this year's special guest blogger. You can read what he has to say every week on fullertontitans.com. Just go to the baseball page and click his link in the right-hand sidebar and get his unique perspective on being a player at Cal State Fullerton.

LAST WEEK: The Titans are coming off a very productive week finishing up a non-conference series win on Monday at Long Beach State before taking two of three from No. 4 TCU in Fort Worth.

On Monday night and the Titans hung on for a 4-3 win in a make-up of the season opener that was rained out. Colin O'Connell allowed one run over seven innings for the win. Walker Moore's pinch-hit RBI double broke a 1-1 tie in the seventh and Michael Lorenzen followed with an RBI single. The Titans got a gift run in the ninth on a blooper and three wild pitches and it proved the difference when the 49ers scored twice in the bottom of the ninth off Chris Devenski, who worked the final two innings and logged his first save.

TCU took the series opener 4-1 at Lupton Stadium as Kyle Winkler out-dueled Noe Ramirez from the mound. A two-run second inning stood up for Winkler who was pitching in place of Frogs' ace Matt Purke who was sidelined all weekend with a blister on his throwing hand. Ramirez gave up two runs on 5 hits and struck out eight over six innings of work.

A five-run ninth inning provided the cushion for the Titans to hold on and win, 8-4, Saturday afternoon. Richy Pedroza's bases-loaded squeeze bunt drove home the eventual game-winner and Nick Ramirez's 3-run double blew the game open. Devenski picked up his first Div. I win in relief of Tyler Pill (6.1 IP, 2 H, 2 R, 5 K).

On Sunday The Titans needed another late rally to take the series with a 2-1 win. O'Connell mirrored his Monday night effort but was unable to get a win out of it. Winning pitcher Dylan Floro (1.1 IP) and Nick Ramirez (.2 IP) continued in O'Connell's footsteps shutting down the Frogs in the final two frames. Nick Ramirez needed just six pitches to nail down two strikeouts and his second save.

Trailing 1-0 in the eighth, Nick Ramirez's RBI-double tied the game, and freshman Michael Lorenzen's RBI-single in the top of the ninth won it.

Fullerton and TCU have played four years in a row with the visitors winning all four series. TCU had not lost a series in over a year, and had not lost a home series in nearly two seasons.

VERSUS USC: After a one-year hiatus that saw the Titans and Trojans not play each other at all, the two school that are about 30 miles apart will again lock horns - this year in a weekend series. The two storied programs have been meeting at the Div. I level since 1975. Fullerton has a slim advantage in the all-time series, leading 41-36 with one tie. The two teams last met in 2009 with each team winning on the road in two midweek games at USC and CSF. Overall the Titans are 19-15 at home against the Trojans and 18-18 on the road (4-3-1 at neutral sites). They will get a chance to improve both those numbers this weekend as the first two games of the series will be in Fullerton and the finale Sunday afternoon in L.A. USC and Fullerton have met seven times in the postseason with the Trojans leading those meetings, 4-3. But the Titans got the one that mattered, beating them in the CWS final in 1995, 11-5, to win the school's third national championship. It was the only meeting between the two in Omaha, Neb. Another key win for Fullerton over USC came back in its first season at the Div. I level in 1975. That year, the Titans won the Los Angeles Regional (at USC), thus ending USC's streak of five consecutive national championships under coaching legend Rod Dedeaux.

NATIONAL TITLES: Cal State Fullerton has national championships over four decades, winning in 1979, 1984,1995, and 2004, and rank tied for 5th (with Miami) in all-time national title wins. Texas is No. 2 on that list with 6 national championships trailing only USC. The Trojans have a whopping 12 national titles dating back to 1948 (1948, 58, 61, 63, 68, 70-74, 1978, 1998). Their last national title was won under the tutelage of then Head Coach Mike Gillespie, who is now in the Big West with UC Irvine.

BIG WEST PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Cal State Fullerton sophomore shortstop Richy Pedroza was named the Big West Conference Player of the Week after helping the Titans to a 3-1 week over Long Beach State and then-No. 4 TCU. He was a spark plug atop of the Titans' batting order and was a solid defender at short. On the week, Pedroza reached base (via hit, error, or HBP) 10 times in 19 plate appearances setting the table for numerous Titan offensive threats. The Covina native was also one of two Titans to hit in all three games in Fort Worth, upping his team-leading batting average to .393 heading into this week. On Friday night against the Horned Frogs, Pedroza had a game-high three hits in the Titans only loss of the week. On Saturday, his sacrifice bunt drove home the game-winning run, and on Sunday, he singled and scored the game-tying run as the Titans went on to take a series against the nationally-ranked Frogs. Pedroza finished the week by going 6-for-15 (.400) with four runs scored, an RBI, three sacrifices and a stolen base. This is his first career player of the week nod.

HITTING STREAKS: Both Richy Pedroza and Anthony Hutting have a team-leading 4-game hitting streak. Pedroza has strung his together with three multi-hit games and has gone 8-for-16 (.500) over that span. Hutting has one multi-hit game and has gone 5-for-12 (.417) in his last four games.

STARTING PITCHING: Starting pitching (Noe Ramirez, Tyler Pill, Colin O'Connell and Jake Floethe) has provided the Titans ample opportunity for success. So far they have compiled a 3-1 record with a combined 1.93 ERA over 51.1 IP, and have composed seven quality starts (6+ innings and 3 or fewer runs) in eight games. The starters have also held the opponent to a .219 batting average and have put up a nearly 4-to-1 strikeout-to-walk ratio.

RELIEVERS: The bullpen has been less effective than the starters posting a 2-2 record with a 4.35 ERA while allowing a .338 batting average.

COLIN ALL CARS: Lanky right-hander Colin O'Connell has continued where he left off last season by composing two stellar starts, both coming last week. In his first outing last Monday at Long Beach State, O'Connell tossed 7 innings of 5-hit ball while allowing just 1 run for the win. Six days later the righty was on the mound against then No. 4 TCU where he produced a nearly identical performance. He held the Horned Frogs to 5-hits over 7 innings allowing just a run. On the week, O'Connell struck out 10 (6 and 4) without a walk. In his last start of 2010, O'Connell, making just his 16th appearance and 4th start of the year, tossed a complete-game 7-hitter against Minnesota in the Fullerton Regional to force a seventh and deciding game of the tournament.

TAKE THIS LOB AND SHOVE IT: The Titans' offense has struggled a bit, hitting just .259 over the first 8 games of the year. As tight as things have been overall, its has been a bit worse when the Titans get runners on. The team is hitting just .229 with runners on base, .188 with the bases loaded and .214 with runners in scoring position.

LOOKING GOOD BOTH WAYS: Nick Ramirez, a 2010 All-American utility player and finalist for the inaugural John Olerud 2-Way Player of the Year, had another solid weekend at the plate and on the mound against No. 4 TCU. The first baseman drove home the only run in the first game of the series, had a bases-clearing double in the Titans' five-run 9th on Saturday and a game-tying double on Sunday in the 8th inning. And for good measure the southpaw logged his second save of the year with two strikeouts on six pitches in the bottom of the ninth to lock down the series win. Ramirez has the second-most hits on the team (10) and is leading the squad in RBI (6) while managing a 2.45 ERA over 3 appearances on the mound.

SAVERY COURSE: According to a list compiled by Minnesota SID Steve Geller, Cal State Fullerton's Nick Ramirez is among the nation's active saves leaders with 20 career saves. He trails Matty Ott (29, LSU), Ryan Duke (28, Oklahoma), Scott Matyas (27, Minnesota) and Kevin McKague (22, Army) in the top 5 in the country. Nick's 20 career saves at Cal State Fullerton ranks 7th all-time among Titan closers.

TITAN TIDBITS:
&\#149; The Titans went 3-1 land wrapped up two series wins against Long Beach State and nationally-ranked TCU within seven days.

&\#149; The Titans' win on Tuesday against Loyola Marymount was the first over the Lions since 2008. Before Tuesday, the Titans were winless in three chances against former Titan player and coach Jason Gill, who know heads up the LMU program.

&\#149; Noe Ramirez's loss against then-No. 4 TCU was his first loss since his first start of 2010. More than a calendar year wen by in between losses.