Titans Head North for Tilts with Mustangs

April 19, 2011

Titans Head North for Weekend Tilts with Mustangs

PLAY BALL: For the third weekend in a row, the Titans (27-9, 8-1) take on their most serious Big West Conference challenger with a 3-game series Thursday to Saturday at Cal Poly (16-16, 6-3), which is one of two teams sitting two games back in the standings.

First the Titans took 2-of-3 when UC Irvine visited with an identical 3-0 record. Then last weekend the Titans used three come-from-behind, one-run victories to sweep UC Santa Barbara, which came in with only one conference loss.

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THIS WEEK IN TITAN BASEBALL:
Thurs., Apr. 21 at Cal Poly (Baggett Stadium), 6 p.m.
Follow the Game:
GameTracker / Internet Audio / BigWest.tv
Pitching Probables:
CSF: Noe Ramirez (6-2, 2.04 ERA)
CP: RHP, Mason Radeke (5-1, 2.48 ERA)

Fri., Apr. 22 at Cal Poly (Baggett Stadium), 6 p.m.
Follow the Game:
GameTracker / Internet Audio / BigWest.tv
Pitching Probables:
CSF: Colin O'Connell (5-2, 2.59 ERA)
CP: RHP Steven Fischback (3-2, 4.11 ERA)

Sat., Apr. 23 at Cal Poly (Baggett Stadium), 1 p.m.
Follow the Game:
GameTracker / Internet Audio / BigWest.tv
Pitching Probables:
CSF: Tyler Pill (4-0, 2.21 ERA)
CP: RHP Chase Johnson (1-2, 3.23 ERA)

LAST WEEK: The Titans averaged less than 8 hits per game but managed to average almost 5 runs a game for a perfect 4-0 record that kept them ranked 8th in the Baseball America Top 25.

On Tuesday they scored 5 runs in the first 3 innings and rode Colin O'Connell's six strong innings to a 5-0 win at Loyola Marymount. Three relievers completed CSF's fourth shutout.

The bullpen was big again in the first two games of the UCSB series.

On Friday, the Titans didn't allow a baserunner after Carlos Lopez' 2-out triple scored Nick Ramirez for a 3-2 lead in the bottom of the sixth inning. Winner Noe Ramirez struck out the side in the seventh before Dylan Floro (1 strikeout) and Nick Ramirez (2 strikeouts) pitched a perfect eighth and ninth inning, respectively, for a 3-2 win.

On Saturday, starter Jake Floethe couldn't get out of the second inning but the bullpen hurled 7.1 innings of shutout relief in a 5-4 win. O'Connell came back for 5.1 innings with 9 strikeouts. David Hurlbut gave up a leadoff hit in the eighth but Floro came on to retire the side. In the ninth, Floro gave up a one-out double before Nick Ramirez came on to get the save with a big boost from Michael Lorenzen. The freshman right fielder threw out Derek Eligio trying to score on Brandon Trinkwon's single.

Fullerton had overcome a 4-1 Gaucho lead with two unearned runs in the second and two more tallies in the sixth. Ivory Thomas' sacrifice fly tied the game and Anthony Trajano singled home the go-ahead score.

Those two players would play big roles on Sunday, too. UCSB scored in the first (2 runs), fourth and ninth innings but each time Fullerton countered in the bottom half, winning with a 3-run ninth for another 5-4 victory.

There were two out and a man on when Thomas kept the inning alive with a single. He stole second and scored three pitches later when Trajano punched a 2-run, game-tying single to center. A balk and an intentional walk set the stage for Blake Barber, who delivered a walk-off single to left-center field.

Tyler Pill was a tough-luck starter with no decision. He allowed only 5 hits and 1 earned run while matching his career high with 11 strikeouts to go with no walks. Raymond Hernandez gave up a run in the ninth but earned his second win.

INJURY BUG: The Titans could possibly be without the services of three of its players for this week's Big West Conference series at Cal Poly due to injuries incurred over the past several weeks. Freshman right-fielder Michael Lorenzen will not be available for the entire series against the Mustangs due to a severely sprained right wrist incurred on a dive attempt at a ball in the outfield in last Sunday's game against UC Santa Barbara at Goodwin Field. Lorenzen will be listed day-to-day when the Titans return from San Luis Obispo, Calif. He is currently hitting .293 with 2 home runs and 20 RBI and has a team-leading 4 outfield assists... Junior third baseman Joe Terry will sit out again this weekend due to complications with the hamate bone region in his right hand. According to Athletic Trainer Chris Mumaw, Terry will be seeing a hand specialist this week to determine the next course of treatment. Terry injured the hand on a swing in the middle of the Friday night game against UC Irvine on Apr. 8, and was immediately replaced by junior Blake Barber. Other than one pinch-running opportunity, Terry has not played since. He is hitting .260 with nine RBI and five stolen bases in 25 games for the Titans... Head Coach Dave Serrano also reported today that All-American right-hander Noe Ramirez is questionable for his scheduled start on Thursday night at Cal Poly after spraining his left ankle at practice Tuesday afternoon. Ramirez (6-2, 2.04 ERA) is scheduled to face the Mustangs' Mason Radeke (5-1, 2.48 ERA) on Thursday at 6 p.m. at Baggett Stadium... On a positive note, the Titans are expecting sophomore Richy Pedroza to return to the line-up this week after suffering a shoulder injury the same Friday night Terry was injured. Pedroza came out mid-inning after a relay throw to the plate in the Friday night loss to the Anteaters. Pedroza saw two pinch-hitting opportunities this past weekend versus the Gauchos. Pedroza currently leads the team with a .356 batting average, has an on-base percentage of .405 and has five stolen bases to his credit.

POW POW POW: Colin O'Connell was named the Big West Pitcher of the Week after logging a pair of wins over Loyola Marymount and UC Santa Barbara. It is O'Connell's first career pitcher of the week award and the third straight by a Titan pitcher this season. O'Connell didn't allow a run the entire week in 11.1 innings of work and also struck out 13 without a walk to help lead the Titans to a perfect 4-0 record. On Tuesday at LMU, the Riverside native started and faced just one over the minimum through six innings, giving up just two hits while striking out four in the Titans' 5-0 shutout of the Lions. The lanky right-hander then came in to relieve Jake Floethe in the second inning of Saturday's Big West game against Santa Barbara and struck out a career high (tie) nine Gauchos in 5.1 innings of work. In all, O'Connell faced just one over the minimum through his first 8.2 innings on the week before having to face five batters in the fifth inning of Saturday's 5-4 win over the Gauchos.

ANOTHER GREAT WEEK: Anthony Trajano played a pivotal role in the Titans success on the week, not only by contributing a team-high in hits and RBI, but by driving in or scoring key runs in three of the Titans' four wins on the week, all while filling in at shortstop for an injured Richy Pedroza. Trajano batted .353 (6-for-17) while driving in six to help the Titans to a midweek win over Loyola Marymount and a three-game Big West series sweep of visiting UC Santa Barbara. His Sunday effort was key in a come-from-behind walk-off win. He was 2-for-5 with 3 RBI, but his final hit, a two-run single with two out in the bottom of the ninth tied the game, and he eventually came around to score the game-winner on a single by Blake Barber. On Saturday night, the Moreno Valley native singled home the game-winner in the bottom of the sixth inning in the tight, 5-4 victory. At LMU the shortstop went 3-for-5 on the afternoon and scored the winning run in the first inning after reaching second with a double. On Friday versus the Gauchos, he didn't record a hit, but his third inning sac-fly evened the game at 1-1. In all, Trajano played perfect defense in 15 touches of the ball at shortstop.

Ws and Ks: With a 6-2 record and 71 strikeouts in 2011, junior Noe Ramirez is among the nation's active career leaders in both of those categories. The Titan right-hander ranks tied for sixth with 27 career victories with Florida State Sean Gilmartin, Texas' Taylor Jungmann, and Coastal Carolina's Anthony Meo. The current active wins leader is Canisius' Shane Davis and East Carolina's Seth Maness. On the strikeout side of things, Ramirez Ranks 7th in the nation with 290 career Ks, just five out of 6th place. UCLA's Trevor Bauer has the most career strikeouts in the nation right now with 367.

STATISTICAL NATIONAL RANKINGS (TEAM): The Titans rank nationally in the following statistical categories: Sacrifice bunts (3rd, 57), fewest walks per nine innings (5th, 2.18), ERA (10th, 2.49), hit by pitch (11th, 63), sacrifice flies (11th, 23), win/loss percentage (12th, .750), strikeouts per nine innings (15th, 8.4), triples (22nd, 15).

STATISTICAL NATIONAL RANKINGS (INDIVIDUAL): Individuals players rank nationally in the following statistical categories: Fewest walks allowed per nine innings (Colin O'Connell, 11th, 0.74), strikeouts (Noe Ramirez, 12th, 71 and Tyler Pill, 23rd, 67), saves (Nick Ramirez, 14th, 9), victories (Noe Ramirez, 24th, 6), sacrifice bunts (Matt Orloff, 21st, 10), and hit by pitch (Ivory Thomas, 24th, 12).

TITAN TIDBITS: &\#149; The Titans are winners of six in row, 15 of their last 16, and 19 of their last 21 games.

&\#149;The Titans' current 6-game winning streak matches their streak from Feb. 26 to Mar. 6 as the second longest winning streak of the season. Their longest string of wins came from Mar. 25 to Apr. 5, when they won a season-high nine games in a row.

&\#149;After playing in three one-run games last weekend with Santa Barbara, the Titans have now played 12 of them on the year. In those 12 one-run games, the Titans are 9-3, with five of the wins happening in come-from-behind fashion. All three Santa Barbara wins saw the Titans trailing at some point.

&\#149; There hasn't been much in way of significantly long hitting streak for Cal State Fullerton so far this year. Richy Pedroza had a 10-gamer, Ivory Thomas a 9-gamer, a seven and a couple of sixes, but that is all. Currently Thomas and Chad Wallach lead the team with three-game streaks heading into this weekend's play at Cal Poly.

&\#149; The Titans are 15-1 when they score in the first inning and 20-1 when they push across a run before their opponents. Conversely, the Titans are just 4-5 when the opponent scores in the first inning, and 7-8 when the opponent scores first.

&\#149; Chad Wallach got his first career starts at third base last Saturday and Sunday. His father, Tim, was an MLB All-Star third baseman, but was the Golden Spikes Award winner for the Titans as a FIRST baseman.

&\#149; Last week the Titan pitching staff struck out 41 Loyola Marymount and UC Santa Barbara hitters and walked just four of them. They tied their season high on Saturday night by striking out 13 Gauchos. Fullerton's pitching staff has nearly a 4-to-1 (3.9:1) strikeout-to-walk ratio as a whole.

&\#149; The Titans are 10-for-50 (.200) as a team in the pinch-hitting department, with Chad Wallach leading the way with 3 PHs in 10 ABs (.300).

&\#149;The Titans are a perfect 10-0 with Anthony Trajano playing shortstop in place of Richy Pedroza (whether it be by because of injury or suspension). Look for Pedroza to return to the line-up as the team's second baseman this weekend at Cal Poly.