Titans Head to Mudville for BWC Series

April 17, 2008

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A LITTLE SIDE NOTE: Residents of Stockton, California - which was known for a time as Mudville prior to incorporation in 1850 - lay claim to being the inspiration for the poem "Casey at the Bat: A Ballad of the Republic Sung in the Year 1888" by Ernest Thayer. It was first published in the San Francisco Examiner on June 3, 1888. In 1887, Thayer covered baseball for the San Francisco Examiner - owned by his Harvard classmate William Randolph Hearst - and is said to have covered the local California League team, the Stockton Ports. (For the 1902 season, after the poem became popular, Stockton's team was renamed the Mudville Nine.) Information courtesy of wikipedia.com

BATTER UP: After dropping a midweek affair against USC, Fullerton now sets its sights on a struggling Pacific Tigers (8-25, 2-7) team in hopes of keeping near the top of the Big West Conference.

Fullerton has lost three of its last five games and is struggling itself on the hill. The Titan arms (minus Jeff Kaplan and Daniel Renken) have given up 29 runs on 42 hits over the last two ballgames, the second most runs given up on back to back days in the history of the program.

At the plate, Erik Komatsu continues to improve, and has overtaken Josh Fellhauer as the Titans' leading hitter with a .390 average and a team-leading 30 RBI.

VERSUS PACIFIC: Cal State Fullerton has a 69-8 all-time series lead voer Pacific dating back to their first meeting in 1975. Currently, the Titans have a 16-game winning streak against the Tigers dating back to Apr. 13, 2002. Fullerton beat Pacific 2-1 in that series played at the Tiger's old home Billy Hebert Field. Fullerton has won 23 of the last 24 meetings with Pacific. The two have never met in the post season.

IF YOUR KAPPY AND YOU KNOW IT... Senior Jeff Kaplan earned his second career Easton Big West Pitcher of the Week award with a complete-game 12-0 shutout over Big West opponent Cal State Northridge as announced by the league office Apr. 14.

The Titans' Friday night starter tallied his third career complete-game shutout on Apr. 11 and matched his career high in strikeouts with 11 while improving to 5-1 on the year. Kaplan retired 13 for 14 Matadors between the first and fifth innings with only the one runner reaching first base safely in that window on a catcher's interference call.

The Dana Point native improves to 16-4 in his Titan career and lowered his season ERA from 5.76 to 4.80 in the Friday night effort.

This is the fourth week in a row that at least one Titan has won a Big West Player/Pitcher of the Week honor and sixth time overall this season.

Kaplan will return to the hill this Friday night in Stockton, Calif., as he is set to face Pacific's Tyler Waldron to kick off the Big West three-game series at Klein Family Field.

ON THE ROAD: The Titans are 8-9 on the road, and are hitting .280 as a team with an ERA of 5.18. Josh Fellhauer has had the most success at the plate on the road hitting .361 with a team-leading 26 hits (five doubles and two home runs). Ten of Fellhauer's 12 stolen bases have come on the road as well... Erik Komatsu has 13 road RBI and has drawn a team-leading nine walks...Jeff Kaplan and Cory Arbiso have posted a pair of road wins from the hill, with Arbiso's only two losses of the year also coming away from home...Daniel Renken leads the pitching staff with 23 strikeouts in foreign territory...Adam Jorgenson, Jason Dovel and Brian Wilson have been roughed up a bit on opponent's mounds, each have an ERA of over 8.00 in the 17 games.

OPPONENT OUTBURSTS: Fullerton gave up 29 combined runs in two games from Apr. 13-15 totaling the second most (tie with 1986 team) number of runs an opponent(s) have put up against the Titans in back-to-back games in the program's Div. I history. The most Fullerton has given up on back-to-back days is 30. The Titans beat Pepperdine 16-15 on Feb. 22, 1997 and then lost 15-7 on Feb. 23, 1997 to the Waves in the last two games of a weekend series. Then-Assistant Coach Dave Serrano was in his first season as the Titans' pitching coach. Opponents have scored 27 runs in back-to-back games on four occasions (1981 Tempe Regional, 1985, 1989, and 1998.). In 1986, Titan pitchers gave up 39 runs over a three-game span (15, 14 and 10 runs).

OVERTIME: The Titans had played three extra-inning games over a span eight games just twice in the recorded history of the baseball program. On Tuesday (Apr. 8), the Titans and Trojans locked horns, marking the fourth time in eight games the Titans had gone into extra frames. The Titans are 1-3 in extras this year with the only win coming on Mar. 28 when they tied the longest game in Titan history with a 16-inning victory over UC Riverside. Dating back to 2006, Fullerton has posted just that one win it its last eight extra inning affairs.

FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS: Junior outfielder Erik Komatsu owns the opponent best pitchers in the opening game of three-game series. The left-handed hitting Komatsu hasp posted a .571 batting average (20-for-35) including four doubles, three triples and two home runs. To go along with that, Komatsu has driven in 13 runs and has a slugging percentage of 1.029. The Camarillo native has also reached base via two walks and three HBPs and also has a sac-fly to his credit over the eight weekend openers thus far.

BIG GAME PITCHER: Senior Jeff Kaplan has been at his best and has come through for the Titans in three starts against Top 5 teams in the nation. The right-hander has gone 2-0 in three starts against No. 3 UCLA, No. 1 Arizona and No. 5 UC Irvine posting a 2.70 ERA with 17 strikeouts in 20 innings pitched. He picked up wins against the Bruins and Anteaters and held the top-ranked Wildcats to two runs on eight hits over 6.1 innings in the no-decision.

GRAND SALAMI: Junior Jared Clark's fourth home run of the season was a big one, a grand slam off Cal State Northridge's Eric Billings capping the Titans' seven-run third inning. It was the first grand slam for Fullerton since last year when first baseman Matt Wallach hit one on May 25, 2007 against Long Beach State.

"KOMO" ARIGATO MR. ROBOTO: A hitting machine over the last 17 games, outfielder Erik Komastu had his 14-htting streak snapped on Saturday in the Titans' 4-2 loss to Northridge. Komatsu started right back up going 4-for-5 with four RBI on Sunday, and 3-for-3 against USC on Tuesday (Apr. 15) upping his overall average to .390. Over the streak, Komatsu has posted a team-high .450 average, nearly 100 points higher than the next best Titan, Josh Fellhauer. Over the last 17 games, "Komo" is hitting .472 (34-for-72) with one third of his hits (7 2B, 2 3B, 2 HR) going for extra bases and he has also reached base 12 times via the walk or HBP.

HITTING STREAKS: After Erik Komatsu snapped his Fullerton best 14-game hitting streak on Saturday (Apr. 12), third baseman Joel Weeks took over with the team's longest current streak with a seven-gamer. Weeks' streak was snapped with a hitless performance on Tuesday (Apr. 15) vs. USC leaving designated hitter Corey Jones with the longest current streak on the team at four games.

WEEKS LAST WEEK: Last week, Joel Weeks led the Titans with a .600 batting average picking nine hits (tied for the team-lead) with a pair of doubles and 3 RBI finishing with multiple hits in each of the Titans' four games last week against USC (Apr. 8) and Northridge. Weeks' single in the seventh inning of last Tuesday night's game at USC drove home the tying run in the eventual 5-4 loss to the Trojans. The third baseman had three hits in Friday night's 12-0 route of Northridge, then 2 hits in each of the Saturday and Sunday tilts. Weeks scored six runs, walked twice, was hit by a pitch, had an on base percentage of .667 and slugged a team-high .733 while also playing superb defense at the hot corner. Weeks made two diving grabs down the line to take away for-sure extra bases, and missed a third as the runner beat the throw. Weeks jumped his season average from .308 to .336 with last week's performance.

BADGE OF HONOR: Fullerton batters were hit by a pitch eight more times last week and twice on Tuesday (Apr. 15) to extend their Big West Conference-leading total to 71. The Titans entered the week ranked 3rd in the nation in hit by pitches (69) trailing South Florida by 11 for the nation's top spot. Christian Colon and Khris Davis are leading the bruised Titans with eight HBPs apiece with Erik Komatsu, Dustin Garneau and Jared Clark right behind with seven each.

DAYTIME FRIEND: Sunday's daylight has treated Cory Arbiso (6-2) well since being moved to the Sunday slot in the Titans rotation back on Mar. 8. The right-hander from La Mirada has recorded six straight wins and has averaged 7-plus innings in each of his starts. The junior posted his first complete game on Mar. 30 where he fanned a career high 10 hitters as he seven-hit UC Riverside. He has also posted wins over No. 1 Arizona and No. 5 UC Irvine in that slot in the rotation. Arbiso started the season as the Saturday night pitcher, but was moved to Sunday when Daniel Renken broke into rotation. Arbiso ranks fourth in nation, issuing just 0.71 walks per nine innings. Arbiso is currently tied for 1st in the Big West Conference and 11th in the nation with six wins.

COOL RUNNINGS: Fullerton for the second week in a row retain the top spot in the Big West in stolen bases. The Titans swiped nine of 11 bags last week jumping their totals to 76 of 103 on the season. Fullerton ranks seventh in the nation in both stolen bases per game (2.38) and total stolen bases (76). Fordham leads the country with 107. Fullerton stole its 53rd base in its 21st game, tying last year's total set in 63 games. The Titans are on pace to steal 133 bags in the 56-game regular season. Leading the way is Josh Fellhauer has stolen 12, while Erik Komatsu and Gary Brown are right behind the centerfielder with 10. Fellhauer is tied for fifth in conference in total steals.

FOUR SCORE: Titans have scored four or more run in an inning 17 times over their 32 games. They have scored four runs four times, five runs 10 times, and seven runs (Mar. 9 vs. Southern Miss, bottom of 7; Mar. 30 vs. UC Riverside, bottom of the third, Apr. 13 vs. Northridge, bottom of the third) in an inning three times. Conversely, opponents have scored four or more runs in an inning nine times, with a nine-run first by Pepperdine (Mar. 18) being the biggest inning by an opponent.

TWO OUT NIGHTMARE: The Titans are hitting .320 and have driven in 36 percent of their runs (81 of 228 total runs scored) when hitting with two outs. Forty-one percent of the team's total RBIs are with two down as well (81 of 200 total RBIs). Erik Komatsu is the Titans' leading inning extender, going 22-for-47 (.468) while also driving in 16 of his team-leading 29 total RBI with two down.

IN THE SHOW: Forty-five Titans have made their way to the big leagues by way of Cal State Fullerton in the 33-year history at the Division I level. Currently, nine Titans find themselves on major league rosters with Kirk Saarloos and Wes Littleton being called up this past week. Six of the nine current big leaguers have donned new uniforms this year with mid-season acquisitions and trades. Mark Kotsay (now with Atlanta, from Oakland) is in his 12th year in the majors with his fourth team; Mike Lamb (now with Minnesota from Houston) is in his ninth year with his third team; Reed Johnson (now with Chicago Cubs from Toronto) is with his second team in this his sixth year in the majors; Aaron Rowand (now with San Francisco from Philadelphia) is starting his eighth season in the majors with his third team; Kurt Suzuki (Oakland) is starting his first full season on the A's roster after making his debut last year on June 12; Closer Chad Cordero (Washington) got to see the long awaited opening of the new National's baseball-only stadium in his sixth year with the Nationals/Expos; Wes Littleton (Texas) was called up again by the Rangers, and is making an appearance in the show for the third straight year; Kirk Saarloos (now with Oakland, from Cincinnati), is making his second tour of duty with the A's after also spending time with Houston and Cincinnati. This is Captain Kirk's seventh year in the big leagues; Matt Wise (now with New York Mets, from Milwaukee) is starting his eighth season in the majors, and his first in the National League after spending his career on the other side with then-Anaheim and Milwaukee.