Titans Host CWS Runnersup UCLA on Tuesday

March 28, 2011

PLAY BALL: Big week on tap for No. 12 Cal State Fullerton (16-8, 0-0) as they host No. 24 UCLA (11-8, 2-1) on Tuesday before heading back out on the road to open the 2011 Big West Conference slate at UC Davis.

Despite recent dominance over the Bruins, the Titans were eliminated by them in last year's Super Regional in Los Angeles. The Titans were just one out away from making another trip to the College World Series, but UCLA battled back to win the series 2-1 and went go on to the CWS Championship Series against the eventual national champion South Carolina Gamecocks.

Complete Game Notes in PDF Format

THIS WEEK IN TITAN BASEBALL:
Tues., Mar. 29 vs. No. 24 UCLA (Goodwin Field), 6 p.m.
Follow the Action: GameTracker / AUDIO / BIGWEST.TV
Probable Starting Pitching:
CSF - RHP, Colin O'Connell (2-2, 2.91 ERA)
UCLA -RHP, Zack Weiss (1-0, 3.21 ERA)

Fri., Apr. 1 at UC Davis* (Dobbins Baseball Stadium), 3 p.m.
Follow the Action: GameTracker / AUDIO
Probable Starting Pitching:
CSF - RHP, Jake Floethe (2-0, 2.05 ERA)
UCD - TBA

Sat., Apr. 2 at UC Davis* (Dobbins Baseball Stadium), 1 p.m.
Follow the Action: GameTracker / AUDIO
Probable Starting Pitching:
CSF - RHP, Noe Ramirez (2-2, 3.10 ERA)
UCD -TBA

Sun., Apr. 3 at UC Davis* (Dobbins Baseball Stadium), 1 p.m.
Follow the Action: GameTracker / AUDIO
Probable Starting Pitching:
CSF - RHP, Tyler Pill (2-1, 1.99 ERA)
UCD - TBA

LAST WEEK: Fullerton split a pair of mid-week home games with Arizona State in the DeMarini West Coast Challenge. Jake Floethe pitched 7.1 strong innings and Nick Ramirez and Austin Kingsolver each drove in two runs in a 7-3 Titan win. Colin O'Connell got knocked around the next night in a 10-1 Sun Devils' victory.

At Hawai'i, the Titans overcame the absence of eight disciplined players with dominant pitching and clutch hitting to play a 4-game series for the first time since 1984 and sweep for the first time since 1981.

On Friday, Noe Ramirez (8 IP) and Nick Ramirez (1 IP) combined on a 2-hitter for a 3-0 win. Both Hawai'i hits came in the fourth but a caught stealing helped Noe, who struck out the last man he faced with the bases loaded (an error and two walks) to end the eighth inning. The Titan runs came home on a ground out by Michael Lorenzen and an RBI triple by Blake Barber in the fourth and an Anthony Trajano RBI single in the fifth.

Tyler Pill was the star of Saturday's opener. He took a perfect game into the seventh and final by predetermination inning. He logged his tenth strikeout but Breland Almadova reached first on the wild pitch. Two doubles spoiled the no-hitter and then the shutout but Pill did register the Titans' first complete game. He also singled home the first run in a 3-run top of the seventh that proved decisive.

Lorenzen followed with a two-run knock. Ivory Thomas staked Pill to an early lead with a solo home run in the third.

In the nightcap, freshman Chad Wallach's first career hit brought home the go-ahead run in the sixth inning. He pinch-hit for Anthony Hutting and delivered a single to right-center that scored Pill. Fullerton had overcome a 2-run Hawai'i first inning when Lorenzen hit a sacrifice fly in the fourth and Jared Deacon scored on an error in the fifth. Nick Ramirez, who would record the final 3 outs with the tying run at the plate for a save, added a home run in the eighth. Dylan Floro survived a shaky start to go 6 innings for the win. Raymond Hernandez pitched the scoreless seventh and eighth innings before giving way to Nick after a leadoff double in the ninth.

Nick Ramirez drove in all three runs on Sunday and four Titan pitchers made them stand up.

Starter David Hurlbut got the win with five shutout innings of 3-hit ball with 6 strikeouts. Christian Coronado pitched two scoreless innings before Chris Devinsky got into trouble in the eighth. Jake Floethe got the final four outs for his second save of the year.

Ramirez just missed a grand slam when his sacrifice fly was caught at the centerfield fence in the fifth, producing a 1-0 lead. His two-out single drove home a pair to make it 3-0 in the seventh.

TITAN TIDBITS:
&\#149; Cal State Fullerton is 8-1 since returning from its dreadful 0-4 road trip to LSU and Texas A&M.

&\#149; Cal State Fullerton and Hawaii had a 4-4 all-time record going into the weekend with Hawaii holding a 3-1 edge in the series in Hawaii. Fullerton swept Hawaii in this series and now sit 8-4 all-time against them and 5-3 all time on the Island.

&\#149; The Titans hit just .237 on the week (42-for-177) against Arizona State and Hawaii but more than doubled their home run output with Ivory Thomas, Nick Ramirez and Michael Lorenzen each hitting long-balls. The Titans now have 5 home runs on the year.

&\#149; The Titans, who had committed 18 errors in the eight previous games, settled down to commit just five over the six games against Arizona State and Hawaii. Fullerton is errorless in their last three games.

&\#149; Strong pitching performances last week: Jake Floethe was 1-0 with a save. He beat No. 6 ASU (7.1 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 6 K) and logged a 1.2 inning save at Hawaii... Noe Ramirez was lights out, holding the Rainbows to just 2 hits in 8 innings of work... Tyler Pill was perfect through six innings, retiring 18 in a row, lost the perfect game, the no-hitter and shutout in the seventh (1-0, 2 R, 2 H, 11 K, 0 BB)... Dylan Floro was commendable (1-0, 6.0 IP, 2 R, 7H, 5 K) and David Hurlbut allowed just 4 hits over 7 innings in two appearances against ASU and Hawaii. The southpaw got the win in a 5-inning start on Sunday in Honolulu and struck out 8 on the week.

&\#149; Despite the Titans batting .237 on the week, the pitching staff kept the team in the games by holding the opponents to a minuscule .212 mark.

&\#149; At the plate, Anthony Trajano was the standout posting a .450 batting average with a team-leading 9 hits, and .500 on base percentage from the No. 2 hole. Trajano reached base in 14 of his 24 plate appearances and hit in five of the six games of the week. He was the only Titan to hit over .263 on the week.

&\#149; Fullerton played without 8 of its regular travel party in Hawaii due to a violation of team rules. Missing from the games were relief pitcher Ryan Ackland, designated hitter Carlos Lopez, utility player Walker Moore, starting pitcher Colin O'Connell, shortstop Richy Pedroza, catcher Zach Tanida, third baseman Joe Terry, and utility player Casey Watkins. Blake Barber (3-for-14, 1 error in four chances) played third base in place of Terry. Anthony Trajano (7-for-14, 2B, RBI) moved from second to short for Pedroza. Matt Orloff got himself four starts in Hawaii. No stranger to second base, he has been relegated recently to the late-inning defensive replacement role. Orloff was 1-for-11 in Honolulu with 3 sacrifices and an HBP. Dylan Floro (6 IP, 2 R, 7 H, 5 K) took O'Connell's spot in the weekend rotation and logged a 6-inning win. Chad Wallach got a key pinch-hitting opportunity and delivered a game-winning RBI single on Saturday. All eight of the suspended players will be reinstated on Tuesday vs. UCLA.

VERSUS THE BRUINS: Cal State Fullerton is 60-26-1 all-time against UCLA dating back to the Titans' first season at the Div. I level in 1975. Fullerton has been in control in the most recent history winning of 12 of its last 15,17 of its last 21, 24 of its last 30 and 39 of its last 48, but UCLA won two big ones in 2010 with a trip to the College World Series on the line. Fullerton won the first game of the 2010 Super Regional 4-3, but lost the final two games, 7-11 (10) and 1-8. With John Savage at the helm of the Bruins, the Titans are 19-5 against the Bruins, including 5-3 in postseason play. Over the years, the Titans and Bruins have met up 11 times in the postseason, with Fullerton holding a 7-4 advantage. The Titans are 4-2 in Regional Play (2-1 in 1979 and 2-1 in 2008) and 3-2 in the Super Regionals (2-0 in 2007 and 1-2 in 2010). With Dave Serrano at the helm of the Fullerton program, the Titans are 9-4 against the Bruins. The Titans are 26-14-1 when playing at UCLA, and 32-11-1 at home.

LAST YEAR AGAINST UCLA:
In game one of the Super Regional... Nick Ramirez delivered the key base hit and later pitched out of a huge ninth-inning jam to save CSF's 4-3 victory in the opening game of an NCAA best 2-out-of 3 Super Regional. Ramirez picked up his 11th save after stranding runners at first and third with no outs in the ninth. His bases-loaded single keyed a 3-run fourth inning and Christian Colon's solo home run in the fifth proved the decisive run. Noe Ramirez allowed one run and struck out 13...

In game two of the Super Regional... With the Titans just one out away from advancing to the CWS, Tyler Rahmatulla hit a two-run home run off Raymond Hernandez that kept the Bruins alive and allowed them to eventually win Game 2. Fullerton rallied to tie the game in the bottom of the ninth, but saw relievers Kevin Rath and Kyle Mertins allow 4 runs (2 earned) in the top of the 10th. Dan Klein got the win...

In game three of the Super Regional... Rob Rasmussen pitched a 2-hitter and UCLA turned 12 hits and a critical Titan error into an 8-1 victory and a College World Series berth. The Bruins ended six years of mostly futility against the Titans, who had beaten them 19 times in 22 games before dropping back-to-back games Saturday and Sunday. Rasmussen allowed only five base runners and struck out nine. He retired 15 consecutive batters between Tyler Pill's lead-off single in the fourth inning and a walk to Richie Pedroza leading off the ninth.

In regular season action... On Apr. 6, first-inning home runs by Carlos Lopez, Corey Jones and Nick Ramirez staked Fullerton to a 5-0 lead in the first inning against Clayton Claypool, a lead they would not relinquish as they went on to win 6-1 in Los Angeles. It was just the second loss of the season for UCLA. On May 25 at Goodwin Field, Tyler Pill's first-inning home run off Claypool proved costly as the Titan pitching staff held the Bruins to just 3 hits in the 5-2 win.

A FAMILIAR FACE IN THE BRUIN DUGOUT: Bruin Assistant Coach Rick Vanderhook is in his third season with the Bruins after a year away from the game following the regime change at Fullerton in Sept. 2007. For 21 years Vanderhook was a key evaluator of talent and was instrumental in the success of the Fullerton program that amassed 11 conference crowns, 11 Regional championships, 5 Super Regional triumphs, 9 trips to the College World Series and 2 national championships with him on the coaching staff. Vanderhook was also a member of the Titans' 1984 national championship team as a player, making him the only on-field personnel to earn three of the four CSF national championship rings (1984, 1995, 2004). Hook was inducted into the Titans' Ring of Honor on May 9, 2008 with former long-time Head Coach George Horton, for their contributions to Titan baseball over the years. The two threw out the ceremonial first pitch prior to the game versus Cal Poly. Fullerton has beaten the Bruins in 5 of the 8 meeting since Vanderhook joined the coaching staff.

NEW BATS, NEW RECORDS: At season's end we will see the true effect the new BBCOR bat restrictions have made on the college game. Though it doesn't necessarily relate to bating average, it might be causing a dip in the Titans' team average (.261) that would rank the worst in school history if the season ended today. As far as the long ball, it has made quite an impact. Through 24 games, the Titans have hit just five home runs as a team which would pace them to finish just over 11 home run-in a 56-game schedule. Fullerton has never finished with fewer than 28 home runs (1975) in any season.

TIME FLIES: New speed-up-the-game rules have definitely shown their faces in the box scores when it comes to time of game. Twenty-one of Cal State Fullerton's 24 games (88 percent) this season have been completed in under three hours, 15 of them in under 2:45 and three finishing in under two hours (although one at Hawaii was just 7 innings long). Last year, 39 of Fullerton's 64 games were under three hours (61 percent) with a season low of 2:18.

SAVES: NickRamirez's 23 career saves at Cal State Fullerton ranks 4th all-time among Titan closers. Ramirez surpassed Adam Jorgenson and Kirk Saarloos (current Titan assistant coach) last weekend in Hawaii and now trials former hurlers Ted Silva (26, 1993-95) and Vinnie Pestano (27, 2004-06) for fourth and third place, respectively.

FULLERTON MILESTONE: The 3-2 win on Mar. 27, 2011 was Dave Serrano's 150th as the Titans' head coach. Former Titan skippers Augie Garrido and George Horton also won their 150th games in their fourth seasons. Garrido won his 150th game in 206 baseball games. Horton reached the plateau in 213 games and Serrano has now done it in 214 games.