It'll be a battle of two of the best in the nation on Wednesday, as the seventh-ranked Titans welcome in No. 12 Arizona to Goodwin Field at 6 pm PT out at Goodwin Field.
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BRYANT SWINGS THE BAT
To say this guy does it all offensively for Fullerton is an understatement. Bryant leads the team in average (.400), slugging percentage (.660), on base percentage (.508), runs scored (10), hits (20), RBI (13), Doubles (7), home runs (2), total bases (33), hit by pitches (3), games played (15), and games started (15). The junior has scored at least one run in eight on the last 10 games, while he's also collected at least one hit in 12 of his last 14 contests. Five of those games have been recorded as multi-hit games.
FULLERTON AGAINST THE REST
The Titan pitching staff is off to another great season. Here's how we stack up to the rest of the nation.
Category Nationally Conference
Double Plays 35th 2nd
DP Per Game 33rd 2nd
ERA 14th 2nd
Fielding % 21st 2nd
Hits allowed per nine 51st 1st
Shutouts 29th 1st
Strikeout-to-walk ratio 4th 1st
Triples 33rd 1st
Triples per game 30th 1st
WHIP 11th 1st
Walks allowed per nine 2nd 1st
Hunter Cullen has found new life of late and is fully taking advantage of his time in right field due to the Ruben Cardenas injury. He has a career night in Fullerton's 13-4 throttling of Arizona State back on March 8, as he collected a career-best four hits in five at bats, while scoring two runs and recording a double. Even more impressive is what he accomplished a few days later on March 11 vs. Gonzaga. The Newport Beach, Calif. saved the day and won the game the Titans, as he blasted a two-run triple into the right field corner with Fullerton trailing 3-2 in the eighth inning. The hit eventually stood as the game-winner. Cullen went 3-of-3 from the plate that night, while that triple was the first his career.
SCORELESS STREAK FOR VELASQUEZ
All good things must come to an end, as Gavin Velasquez' scoreless innings streak to start the season finally ended at 20.1 innings last Saturday vs. Gonzaga. However, the kid is still shoving, as he's a perfect 2-0 with a 1.11 ERA in 24.1 innings pitched this year. Coach Vanderhook will take that all day long.
Niko Pacheco currently leads the team with a current three-game hit streak. Taylor Bryant has the longest hit streak on the team, at one point stringing together 10 consecutive games with a hit. Timmy Richards currently has an on-base streak of eight consecutive games to lead the team. Bryant's 11-game on base streak was the longest of any Titan this season.
GET AHEAD, STAY AHEAD
The Titans are 7-1 when scoring first this season, while they're 7-1 when leading after the sixth frame, 8-1 when leading after seven and 10-1 when leading after eight. They'll also 5-0 when scoring in the first inning and 7-1 when holding their opponent to two runs or less.
RIGHT WHERE THEY LEFT OFF
The Titan pitching staff recorded a program record-low 2.22 ERA last season, and it's on its way to another special year, as the staff currently boats a 2.27 ERA once again so far this year. Fullerton has surrendered two runs or less on eight separate occasions this season. The Titans are 7-1 during that span. Fullerton's ERA is 14th lowest in the nation, while its strikeout-to-walkout ratio is fourth and its WHIP is 11th.
Blake Workman has certainly lived up to his last name as of late. He's come through with some big-time outings for the Titans, including earning a win last Sunday vs. Gonzaga to help Fullerton clinch the weekend series. Workman is 2-0 with a 1.50 ERA in 12 innings pitched so far this year. He set career highs in innings pitched (4) and strikeouts (4) last time out.
HUDGINS NAMED TO JOHNNY BENCH AWARD WATCH LIST
Chris Hudgins is one of 85 catchers to be named to the initial Johnny Bench Award Watch List. The award handed out to the best college catcher in the nation for the 2017 season. The watch list will be narrowed down to the semifinalists, whom will be announced on May 17. Ballots will be sent to the national voting panel at the end of May for a vote to determine the three finalists. The finalists will be announced on June 5, while a final vote among the national committee will occur during the College World Series. All finalists will be brought to Wichita and the winner will be announced the 20th Annual Greater Wichita Sports Banquet on June 29th.
SEABOLD NAMED BIG WEST PITCHER OF THE WEEK
Seabold tossed 7.0 innings of shutout baseball in Fullerton's opening night 1-0 victory over #23 Stanford last Thursday to earn him Big West Pitcher of the Week honors this week. He scattered five hits, struck out one and walked just five batters. It marks the third time in his career Seabold has claimed conference pitcher of the week honors.
The Titans may be 10-5 on the season, but that mark could easily be 13-2. Fullerton at one point owned a 6-0 lead over No. 23 Stanford through four innings, before falling 7-6 in 11 innings on Feb. 19. Not to mention, a costly dropped fly ball in centerfield led to Stanford tying things in the ninth and eventually winning in the 11th. Fullerton's second defeat of the season came vs. San Diego State on Feb. 22. The Titans held one-run leads on two separate occasions in the game. Fullerton committed a season-high four errors in the game and only lost by one run.The Titans also lost a one-run contest to Gonzaga on March 10…just saying.
JOHNNY BE GOOD
John Gavin has been more than just good to start 2017. He's currently boasting a 2-0 record with a 2.33 ERA and 15 Ks in 19.1 innings pitched this year. Gavin ranks second on the team. strikeouts and ERA among qualified players
WHAT HAPPENS IN VEGAS…
What happens in Vegas doesn't necessarily stay in Vegas. Fullerton's 5-0 win on Feb. 26 over UNLV marked the Titans' first road shutout over an opponent since blanking Hawai'i 4-0 back on May 15, 2015. That's a stat the Titans get to take all the way back to Fullerton.
TO ANOTHER 200
Fullerton's victory of UNLV on Feb. 26 marked Rick Vanderhook 200th win as Cal State Fullerton's head coach. Vanderhook is 201-107 in his sixth seasons as the skipper for the Titans. Here's to another 200 more coach.
RICK VANDERHOOK NAMED TO TEAM USA COACHING STAFF
Cal State Fullerton head coach Rick Vanderhook has been named as an assistant coach on Team USA's Collegiate National Team coaching staff this summer. He's one of four assistants on the staff.
The Titans have taken four straight three-game road series going back to last season. They're 1-0 in three-game road series this year, while they earned a split in Houston, in a rain-shortened two-game stint. The Titans are 5-2 on the road this season.
2017 SEASON OUTLOOK
For the Titans, it'll be a good mix of returners and newcomers that should make up a team worthy of its top-10 preseason ranking. Fullerton welcomes back 21 letterwinners from a year ago, including four all-conference performers from 2016 in sophomore Colton Eastman (RHP), senior Timmy Richards (INF), junior Connor Seabold (RHP) and junior John Gavin (LHP). The Titans will also be under the leadership of four-time Big West Coach of the Year Rick Vanderhook, who enters his sixth season as head coach. The returners will be joined by a recruiting class that ranked 21st in the nation according to Collegiate Baseball, which includes six pitchers, four infielders, one outfielder and one catcher. The Titans enter the 2017 season ranked in every national preseason poll, with Baseball America awarding Cal State Fullerton with the highest ranking of eighth. This is the Titans' highest placing in the poll since being ranked No. 1 in the 2014 preseason poll.
• Cal State Fullerton finished the 2016 season with a record of 36-23 (.610), securing the 42nd consecutive winning season in program history. It was also the 42nd straight year the Titans won at least 30 games in a season. The postseason appearance was also Fullerton's 25th straight, which is still the third longest active streak in the country.
• In his fifth season at the helm, head coach Rick Vanderhook led the Titans to their 21st Big West Conference title and 29th conference title overall. It was also the program's sixth conference crown in the last seven seasons and the fourth title in five seasons under Vanderhook. He now holds a 196-103 overall record in five seasons as the Titans head coach.
FULLERTON IN THE POLLS
The Titans enter the third week of the 2017 campaign ranked in the top-25 of all six major preseason baseball polls.
Baseball America: No. 7
Collegiate Baseball Newspaper: No. 21
USA TODAY Coaches Poll: No.15
NCBWA Poll: No. 12
Perfect Game: No. 10
D1Baseball: No. 16
CSF vs. Arizona • ALL-TIME SERIES
First Year Played/Last Year Played: 1977/2015
Overall Record 63-35
Current Streak Lost 2
NCAA Regional Record 2-2
NCAA College World Series Record 1-0
Overall NCAA Postseason Record 3-2
Road Record 34-22
Neutral Record 1-1
Longest Winning Streak 13 games (05/2/93) to 02/08/97)
Longest Losing Streak 19 games, 2x (02,20/92)
Extra Innings 1-1
Most Runs Scored in a Game 23 runs (2/6/97)
Most Runs by Opponent 19 runs, 2x (last 02/20//92)
Largest Margin of Victory 17 runs (2/12/88)
Largest Margin of Defeat 14 runs (2/7/91)
INSIDE THE SERIES
The Titans and Wildcats will meet at Goodwin Field for the first time since 2009, where Fullerton has a current four-game home win streak going against Arizona. This will be the highest ranked Arizona team the Titans will face, since the Titans dropped two of three from the No. 1 ranked Wildcats back in 2008. It's the highest ranked 'Cats team the Titans will see at home since playing No. 7 Arizona in the 2005 Super Regionals.
The Wildcats enter this series ranked No. 12 in the nation. They're also the defending national runner's up from a year ago. Arizona is 13-2 overall this season with both defeats coming in the road. The 'Cats boast five players batting over .400 and eight players batting .300 or better. Assistant coach Sergio Brown will be returning to Cal State Fullerton, where he served as an assistant coach with Chad Baum and Rick Vanderhook.
TITANS AGAINST THE PAC-12
The Titans currently hold a 294-220-3 mark against teams from the Pac-12 conference, with their most victories (67) coming against UCLA in 99 games. The Titans have also played Arizona 98 times, holding a 63-35 record. Fullerton has played Stanford on 105 (46-59) occasions and is one of just three teams in the conference to hold a winning record over the Titans all-time along with Arizona State (27-32) and Washington State (5-7). Fullerton has gone 5-1 against the Pac-12 so far this eason.
HOW THE (BIG) WEST WAS WON? HOPEFULLY
After claiming their 21st Big West Conference title a year ago and their sixth in the last seven years, the Titans are the favorites to do it again in 2017, as Cal State Fullerton has been picked as the team to beat in the Big West Conference, according to the nine league coaches that voted on the Big West baseball preseason poll. Fullerton received a total of 76 points and eight of nine first place votes in the poll, while Long Beach State and UC Santa Barbara tied for second, as each tallied 65 points.
2017 Coaches Poll Results
1. Cal State Fullerton (8) - 76
T2. Long Beach State - 65
T2. UC Santa Barbara - 65
4. Cal Poly - 55
5. UC Irvine (1) - 48
6. CSUN - 33
7. UC Riverside - 27
8. Hawai'i - 23
9. UC Davis - 13
( ) First-place vote
BEST IN THE WEST
Overall, Cal State Fullerton has posted a dominant 745-261-1 (.741) conference record over 42 seasons. Rick Vanderhook, the school's fifth Div. I head coach, has compiled a 90-29 Big West Conference record in his five seasons and has led Fullerton to the conference crown in four of his five seasons at the helm. The four conference titles for Vanderhook is the second most in school history, only behind Augie Garrido (14). Overall, the Titans have won 29 conference titles.
A further breakdown has the Titans winning three PCAA conference championships (1975-76, 1987), eight straight SCBA titles (1977-84), and 18 while playing under the Big West name (1990-91, 94-95, 1997, 1999-2001, 2004-06, 2008, 2010-13, 2015-16). The Big West absorbed the PCAA records in 1990 upon its formation, giving the Titans 20 total Big West championships and a 569-215-1 (.725; 34 years) PCAA/Big West Conference record
TITAN PRIDE NEVER GRADUATES
Cal State Fullerton held its annual Alumni Game back on Jan. 28th and it was the Alumni squad coming up with a 5-3 victory over the Titans. The win marked its first over the Titans since 2007, snapping what was an eight-game losing streak. However, the news isn't all bad for the Titans. The last time Fullerton dropped a contest to the Alumni, the team put together a magical season that ended up seeing the Titans in Omaha.
DINOSAURS ARE EXTINCT
Cal State Fullerton earned a 4-3 victory over the NC Dinos on Tuesday night. The contest marked the third straight year the two sides had gotten together for an exhibition game. The Titans now own a 2-1 lead in the all-time series, as they defeated the Dinos 8-7 in 2015 and lost a 10-1 decision in 2016.
THERE'S A STANDARD HERE
Fullerton has won 30-plus games in each of its 42 seasons at the Div. I level and is tied for third in the nation when it comes to most consecutive 30-win campaigns. The only Titan team to win as few as 30 games was the 1989 squad skippered by Larry Cochell.
Consecutive 30+ win seasons (active)
1. Arizona State 54
2. Miami, Fla. 46
3. Cal State Fullerton 42
3. Clemson 42
IT'S COOL TO STAY IN SCHOOL
Ten Titans on the current roster have been selected previously in the MLB First-Year Players draft. Newcomer Dillon Persinger has actually been selected twice, in 2015 by the Cleveland Indians (31st round) and in 2016 by the Los Angeles Dodgers. He decided to attend Cal State Fullerton instead.
Titans in the Draft (by round):
Tristan Hildebrandt 2014 16th round St. Louis Cardinals
Connor Seabold 2014 19th round Baltimore Orioles
Dillon Persinger 2014 17th round Los Angeles Dodgers
Colton Eastman 2015 20th round Minnesota Twins
Chris Hudgins 2014 35th round New York Yankees
Ruben Cardenas 2015 37th round Miami Marlins
John Gavin 2014 39th round Milwaukee Brewers
Timmy Richards 2013 40th round Miami Marlins
TITANS IN THE BIG LEAGUES
The Titans have had 61 former players ascend to the major leagues since their first products, Dan Whitmer and Tim Wallach, got there in 1980.
STRENGTH OF SCHEDULE
In 2017, the Titans will face five teams that qualified for the 2016 NCAA Tournament in Gonzaga, Arizona, New Mexico, Long Beach State and UC Santa Barbara. Both UCSB and Arizona advanced to the College World Series last year, while the Wildcats finished as the national runner-up in Omaha.
SHUTTING EM DOWN
For the third time in the last four seasons, the Titans set a new program record for lowest earned run average in a single season last year. Fullerton posted a 2.22 ERA in 2016, leading the nation in the category and besting its previous school record (2.24) set in 2014. Prior to that, the 2013 Titans set the ERA record with a 2.47 mark. In 2016 the Titans surrendered just 132 earned runs, the second fewest in program history behind the 1975 squad that allowed 131 earned runs. The 2014 squad that previously held the ERA record allowed 136 earned runs, now ranked the third fewest in program history. Along with setting a new ERA record, the Titans pitching staff set new program bests in opponents' batting average (.212), fewest runs allowed (166) and fewest hits allowed (403) in a single season.
All three weekend starters of an overall pitching staff that set records last season are back in 2017. All-Conference performers Colton Eastman, Connor Seabold and John Gavin are expected to hold down the weekend rotation once again this season. The three combined to win 17 games for the Titans in 2016.
Sophomore right-handed hurler Colton Eastman has earned a spot on USA Baseball's 55-player preseason Golden Spikes Award watch list. The Golden Spikes Award is given out to the top amateur baseball player in the country for the 2017 season. Last year as a freshman, Eastman proved why deserves to be on this list, as he compiled an 8-3 record to go along with a 2.24 ERA with a freshman school-record equaling 100 strikeouts in 100.2 innings pitched. He racked up numerous honors last season, as he was named a Baseball America Freshman All-American, D1Baseball.com Freshman All-American, NCBWA Freshman All-American, the Louisville Slugger Freshman Pitcher of the Year, Louisville Slugger All-American Third Team member, the Big West Freshman Pitcher of the Year and a member of the Big West All-Conference team.
In addition, he finished his freshman campaign ranked 23rd nationally in WHIP (0.97), 38th in strikeout-to-walk ratio (5.00), 41st in ERA, 49th in wins and 91st in walks allowed per nine innings (1.79). He also led the team in wins, strikeouts and games started.
The Fresno, Calif. native has already earned spots on this year's National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association Preseason All-American Second Team, Collegiate Baseball's Preseason All-American second team and DI Baseball's Preseason All-American Third Team.
LOOK'S LIKE A PRO
Connor Seabold was named to the Big West All-Second Team a year ago after claiming two Big West Pitcher of the Week honors during the season and boasting an overall 7-6 record to go along with a 2.48 ERA and 96 strikeouts in 83.1 innings pitched. He's been named on Baseball America's Top-100 Prospects list coming into this season.
MADE IN FULLERTON
Titans head coach Rick Vanderhook collected his 1,100th win as a member of the Cal State Fullerton coaching staff on May 1 at UC Irvine, a 7-2 victory. He has recorded 1,114 victories in 26 seasons as a member of the Titans coaching staff. He was a part of 913 wins as an assistant coach with the Titans (1985-88, 1991-2007) and has recorded 203 victories in five seasons as head coach of the Titans. Overall, Vanderhook has posted a 1111-504-2 record as a member of the Titans coaching staff.
Cal State Fullerton will dedicate the 2017 season to Coben Swanson. Eight year old Coben Swanson of Yorba Linda, Calif., is on the road to recovery from a Nov. 2015 diagnosis of T-Cell Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL), brain hemorrhage, craniectomy and cranioplasty. He is currently battling the side effects of chemotherapy and has been tested at Children's Hospital of Orange County (CHOC) since his diagnosis. He is the son of Jon and Brittany Swanson, and big brother to sister, Saffryn (5). Through the help of Team IMPACT, the Titans have joined Coben in his fight against ALL and made him a permanent member of the Titan family. Throughout the 2017 season you'll see #TEAMCOBEN imprinted on the right side of the Titan batting helmets. Coben has part of his right skull removed last year to repair some damage as a part of his recovery.