Baseball Preview: Cal Poly SLO


Posted Apr 18, 2013


Cal State Fullerton has been on a roll throughout this season and carried a seven game winning streak into last week.

The Titans stretched it to eight games with a 6-4 win last Tuesday night against USC and increased it to ten games against UCSB with a 4-3 comeback win on Friday with two runs in the bottom of the ninth and a 10-2 blowout win on Saturday before seeing their winning streak snapped on Sunday in a 2-0 shutout by the Gauchos, the third time this season that Fullerton has had a ten game winning streak broken as they lost their first Big West game of the season in falling to 31-5, 8-1.

Fullerton got off to a sluggish start last Tuesday against USC, who scored runs in the second and third innings off of starter Koby Gauna before establishing control of the game in the bottom of the third with six runs.  Jake Jefferies led off the inning with a single, A.J. Kennedy singled with one out, Austin Diemer was hit by a pitch with two out and J.D. Davis followed by hitting his second grand slam of the season.  Michael Lorenzen went back to back with his conference leading seventh HR of the season to chase Trojans starter Sean Adler, Chad Wallach welcomed reliever Nigel Nootbaar into the game with a double and Matt Chapman singled up the middle to drive in Wallach to finish off the scoring in the inning for the Titans as well as for the game.  Willie Kuhl relieved Gauna in the fourth and left the game after the first two hitters reached base against him in the fifth.  Henry Omana walked the first batter he faced and gave up two long SF’s to cut the lead to 6-4 before getting out of the inning.  Omana, Jose Cardona and Lorenzen combined to shut out the Trojans over the last four innings, with Cardona picking up his first win of the season with two scoreless innings and Lorenzen picking up his conference leading twelfth save.

As is usually the case on Friday nights, it looked like the potential was there for a pitchers duel between Thomas Eshelman and UCSB’s Austin Pettibone and that is exactly what happened.  The Gauchos jumped on Eshelman for a run in the first on two singles and an RBI groundout.  Fullerton got two hits in their half of the inning but stranded those runners and got three more hits in the third but saw one of those runners picked off and another one thrown out trying to go from first to third on a groundout.  Each team only had one hit over the next two innings before Eshelman walked Brandon Trinkwon, one of the most patient hitters in the conference, with one out in the sixth to end his streak without walking a hitter at 63 1/3 innings.  The Titans got two runners on in the sixth on a walk and a HBP before a DP ended the inning.  Anthony Hutting singled with one out in the seventh and it looked like Fullerton was going to be kept off of the scoreboard again when Chapman hit a hard grounder to short that looked like a tailor made DP ball but took a kangaroo hop off of the edge of the infield grass and bounced over the Trinkwon’s head and was misplayed in the OF for the Titans to end up with runners on second and third.  Austin Kingsolver squibbed a ball to 1B that couldn’t be played for a single to drive in Hutting to tie the game and Richy Pedroza beat out a potential DP ball to drive in the go ahead run.  Eshelman pitched another scoreless inning in the eighth and handed the ball off to Lorenzen to finish things off but it wasn’t an automatic save like it has usually been when he comes into the game.  Tyler Kuresa singled with one out for the Gauchos and Luke Swenson tripled into the RF corner to tie the game for Lorenzen’s first blown save in sixteen chances going back to last season.  Jackson Morrow followed with a clutch squeeze bunt with two strikes to give the UCSB the lead.  Diemer led off the bottom of the ninth with a bunt single off of Gauchos reliever Greg Mahle, Chapman and Kingsolver followed with four pitch walks off of UCSB closer Dylan Hecht and Justin Wilson came into the game to face Pedroza.  Wilson’s wild pitch brought home Diemer with the tying run and Pedroza’s SF to CF scored Chapman to win the game and set off a wild celebration on Pedroza’s second game winning ninth inning RBI in the last four games.  Eshelman was outstanding as he has been all season and allowed one run on five hits and one walk and seven strikeouts in eight innings and has a Big West leading 1.09 ERA while Lorenzen picked up his first win of the season after his teammates bailed him out.

Fullerton made sure things wouldn’t be nearly as dramatic on Saturday when they jumped all over UCSB starter Justin Jacome for three runs in the first and another in the second before knocking him out of the game with three more runs in the fourth.  Pedroza led off the bottom of the first with a single, Carlos Lopez doubled him to third, JD Davis’ infield single drove in Pedroza, Lorenzen was hit by a pitch and Wallach and Chapman followed with SF’s to each drive in runs.  The Gauchos scored in the top of the second and the Titans responded in the bottom of the inning when Diemer tripled to CF and Pedroza singled him in.  Fullerton extended the lead in the fourth when Jefferies doubled, Greg Velazgquez singled, they moved up on a groundout, Pedroza’s SF scored Jefferies, Lopez’s singled scored Velazquez and Davis’ triple drove in Lopez.  The Fullerton onslaught continued in the fifth when Wallach hit his first HR of the season, Chapman doubled and Diemer singled him in.  The teams traded HR’s in the later innings with UCSB’s Joe Woodward and Chapman each hitting their first HR’s of the season.  Justin Garza was the beneficiary of the offensive explosion as he improved his record to 7-0 by allowing two runs on five hits in seven innings with no walks and nine strikeouts and has a 2.36 ERA.  Tyler Peitzmeier and David Birosak each threw a scoreless inning to finish things off.

UCSB has had major problems getting anybody out on Sundays but Robby Nesovic turned that around in the final game of the series.  The Gauchos scored in the second when Grahamm Wiest struck out Nesovic but he reached first on a wild pitch.  Kuresa followed by hitting a long fly ball to RF that bounced off the orange stripe and back into the field and it was initially ruled to be a two run HR but was overruled and called a ground rule double.  Swenson’s RBI groundout scored a run but Kuresa was thrown out at home trying to score on a wild pitch to end the rally.  Fullerton got one runner on base in each of the first four innings but a runner caught stealing and two DP’s ended three of the innings.  UCSB scored in the fifth when Kuresa was hit by a pitch, Swenson singled, Morrow’s SAC bunt was misplayed to load the bases with no outs and a DP scored a run.  It looked like the Titans might get on the board in the bottom of the inning when Wallach walked, Keegan Dale singled and Pedroza walked with two outs but Lopez’s long fly ball to CF was caught up against the wall.  Wiest stranded two runners in the sixth and it looked like Fullerton might tie the game with two runners on and two outs when Chapman scorched a ball down the line and UCSB’s 3B Ryan Clark did his best impression of Brooks Robinson in the 1970 World Series and made a diving stop and threw out Chapman to end the inning.  Wiest worked out of trouble and left the bases loaded in the seventh and Nesovic came out of the game with two outs in the bottom of the inning after walking Kingsolver.  Mahle walked Lopez and Davis but got Lorenzen to fly out to LF to leave the bases loaded.  Peitzmeier retired all six batters he faced in the last two innings and Mahle walked a hitter in the ninth but that was the only baserunner in the last two innings as he picked up the save for UCSB to salvage a win in the series and Fullerton was shut out despite getting seven walks and two HBP’s.  Nesovic was the Big West pitcher of the week for throwing 6 2/3 shutout innings.  Wiest was the tough luck loser after allowing two runs on four hits and two walks with six strikeouts in seven innings as he fell to 6-2 with a 2.70 ERA.

After crushing the ball against Pacific and struggling at UC Davis, the Fullerton offense had a more normal weekend and hit .299 in the UCSB series but couldn’t break through on Sunday and stranded eleven base runners.  The Titans continued to stay patient at the plate and had seventeen walks and HBP’s against the Gauchos and converted several of those free bases into runs in the first two games before being unable to come up with the key hit in the final game of the series.  The hitting leaders for the weekend were Davis (5-10, 2 RBI), Lopez (5-12, RBI), Diemer (4-6, 3 R), Pedroza (3-11, 4 RBI) and Chapman (3-10, HR, 2 RBI).  The pitching was outstanding once again with a 2.33 ERA and held UCSB to a .187 AVG and only allowed 17 hits and three walks with 24 strikeouts. 

Fullerton got this week started by bouncing back from the loss to UCSB by traveling up to Malibu and beating Pepperdine 8-4 on Tuesday afternoon.  The Titans only had seven hits on the afternoon and three of them were by Greg Velazquez, who had a single, double and his first HR of the season and drove in three runs and Fullerton took advantage of the wildness of the Waves pitchers (6 BB’s, 2 HBP’s) and some poor defense (3 E’s) to get out to a 6-1 lead and put things away by scoring two runs in the seventh on a wild pitch and a passed ball.  Bryan Conant picked up his first win as a Titan with two scoreless innings as one of seven pitchers who saw action on the day and Koby Gauna picked up his second save with 2 2/3 scoreless innings.  Fullerton will look to carry the momentum from their win on Tuesday and get a new winning streak started but that won’t be easy with a trip up to the central coast waiting for them this weekend as they take on the Cal Poly Mustangs, who have gotten off to one of their better starts since moving up to D1 in the mid 1990’s.  When these two teams played last year, this was a hard fought series and the Titans had to come from behind in the final game with a run in the bottom of the ninth before winning in extra innings.  At the time, it just seemed like another series that Fullerton needed to stay in front of the Big West with Cal Poly sitting at .500 at the halfway point of the conference schedule but the final game of the series ended up deciding the conference race because the Mustangs made a strong charge in the second half of the Big West schedule to end up finishing one game behind the Titans. 

 

Cal Poly Mustangs (25-9, 6-3 – tied for 2nd)

 

  • 2012 Overall Record – 21-14
  • 2012 Conference Record – 5-4 (tied for 3rd)
  • Post-Season – None
  • 2013 RPI/ISR – 66/24.  2012 RPI/ISR – 67/27.  Cal Poly’s RPI went down by 24 spots after splitting their last two home games with Hawaii and Santa Clara. 
  • Pre-season ranking – none.  Current ranking – 16th by Collegiate Baseball, 22nd by NCBWA and USA Today/Coaches, 23rd by Perfect Game and Baseball America
  • Predicted conference finish – 3rd by Perfect Game, 4th by the Big West coaches, Baseball America and Easton College Baseball.


2012 Summary and 2013 Preview

Cal Poly qualified for a regional for the first time as a D1 program in 2009 after near misses in 2005 and 2007 but wasn’t able to build off of the momentum of their regional appearance, getting off to a brutal start in 2010 when they won only ten of their first 37 games and only played .500 ball in 2011 after starting out 0-6 by ending up 28-27, although they were solid in conference games and finished in third at 15-9.  Unlike in 2011, when the Mustangs got off to such a slow start that their season was almost over before it started, they got off to a blazing start in 2012 with sweeps of Oklahoma State and LMU and were sitting at 7-1 after the first two weekends.  Cal Poly’s inconsistency returned after that and they only went 15-16 against the meat of their schedule, mixing in highs like a sweep of Irvine (the first time they were swept in a conference series since 2006) with lows like losing series at Minnesota and at home to Long Beach to start the Big West schedule.  The Mustangs showed what kind of team they could be when they nearly won the series at Fullerton, taking a lead into the bottom of the ninth before the Titans tied the game and won it in extra innings.  Cal Poly got red hot after that series and went 14-3 to end the season, although two of those losses were one run losses in a series loss at UC Davis.  The Mustangs swept four conference series but lost four Big West series and five conference games by one run due primarily to issues in their bullpen and that ultimately is what cost them a conference title and qualifying for a regional after they finished one game behind Fullerton at 16-8 in the Big West standings and 36-20 overall.

Cal Poly had issues on offense in 2011 adjusting to the new BBCOR bats because their offensive philosophy has been built on banging the ball around the ballpark.  The Mustangs only hit in the .250’s in non-conference games before starting to hit better when the weather warmed up and they hit in the .270’s during the conference part of the schedule.  Cal Poly’s offense was drastically improved in 2012 and they led the Big West in most offensive categories – scoring, AVG, OBP, SLG and HR while scoring at least six runs in 27 of their games.  The Mustangs were even better in conference games than they were earlier in the season and hit .313 and averaged almost seven runs per game while hitting almost an HR per game with 21 HR’s.  Cal Poly had pretty good patience at the plate as a team but they were taking big swings to generate that power and were second in the Big West in strikeouts.  The Mustangs had good team speed and were second in the conference in SB’s.  With the firepower that Cal Poly had, they didn’t feel the need to bunt much and were next to last in the conference in SAC’s. 

Cal Poly had their best team ERA in 2011 since moving up to D1 in 1995 and their pitchers were the reason why they were able to finish in third in the Big West.  The Mustangs were 26-8 when they held their opponents to four runs or less but their lack of productivity on offense was shown when they only went 1-18 when their pitchers allowed five runs or more in a game.  Cal Poly’s team ERA was even better last season and they held teams to three runs or less nineteen times behind a dominant 1-2 punch at the front of their rotation that went 19-4 with a 2.82 ERA.  The Mustangs had issues with depth on their pitching staff and the other starters and the bullpen combined to go 17-16 with a 3.93 ERA and that ultimately was their undoing that prevented them from extending their season into June.

Cal Poly thought they had a chance to get off to a fast start this season with an experienced team that only lost two position players and one starting pitcher and that is exactly what they did in winning their first four series at USF, at home against Seattle, at Washington and Kansas State on their way to starting 13-1.  The Mustangs haven’t been playing as consistently lately and have only gone 12-8 over their last twenty games, losing their series at home to Notre Dame, winning a non-conference series with UCSB and sweeping UC Davis at home to start the Big West schedule before splitting their last six conference games, losing their series at UCSB and winning the first two games at home against Hawaii before dropping the final game of the series.

Cal Poly lost their two best offensive players from 2012 and has had a drop-off in production, averaging a run less per game with slight drops in AVG, OBP and SLG.  The Mustangs have been a bit of an all or nothing offense because they don’t run much except for their leadoff hitter and usually don’t bunt much except for a couple of players at the bottom of the lineup, relying on their power to generate runs and they lead the Big West in HR’s, SLG and 2B’s.  Cal Poly is still prone to striking out quite a bit but they aren’t as patient as they were in 2012, averaging almost a walk less per game with several of the hitters in the middle of the lineup having poor BB/K ratios.

Cal Poly has been getting dominant starting pitching once again on Fridays and Saturdays, with those two starters going 15-3 with a 2.24 ERA, and things have improved on Sundays and they aren’t blowing leads late in games.  The Mustangs had solid strikeout rates in 2012 but they changed pitching coaches after the season with less of an emphasis on pitching to contact, instead going for strikeouts and the result has been that they are averaging a strikeout per inning, which leads the conference and is #6 nationally.  The one area that Cal Poly has a weakness in is with their bullpen depth because they only have confidence in two relievers to come into games in tight situations and they have combined to throw more innings than any of their starters.

 

Offense

  • Park Factor according to Boyd’s World – 110 (increases offense by 10%).  Baggett Stadium has a bit of a spacious ballpark (335 in the corners, 385 to the alleys, 405 to CF) with lots of foul territory and the wind tends to blow straight out.
  • Batting Average – .288 (3rd in the Big West, 75th nationally).  .297 in 2012 (1/36).
  • Scoring – 173 (4/142), 5.2 runs per game.  346 (1/53), 6.2 runs per game in 2011.
  • Home Runs – 21 (1/48).  36 in 2012 (1/64). 
  • Slugging Percentage – .420 (1/43).  .434 in 2012 (1/28).
  • On Base Percentage – .355 (5/154).  .372 in 2012 (1/77)
  • Walks – 90 (7/265), 2.7 per game.  195 in 2012 (4/165), 3.5 per game.
  • HBP’s – 36 (7/140).  57 in 2012 (7/131).
  • Strikeouts – 203 (5/xx), 6.2 per game.  360 in 2012 (2/xx), 6.4 per game.
  • Stolen Bases – 33-47 (6/160).  55-81 in 2012 (2/137). 
  • Sac Bunts – 31 (4/78).  38 in 2012 (8/179).


Infield

Cal Poly only lost one infielder from 2012 but it was a major loss in 1st team All-Big West SS Mike Miller, with a FR moving into the lineup to replace him.

C – JR #8 Chris Hoo (RH – .228/.297/.333, 1-14-0.  ’12 – .259/.342/.365, 2-23-0; ’11 – .203/.261/.250, 0-1-0 in 64 AB’s) split time behind the plate as a FR and was the full-time starter in 2012, earning 1st team All-Big West honors due to his outstanding defense.  He was only hitting .184 going into Fullerton series last season but hit the well the rest of the way and ended up hitting in the .270’s with 2 HR’s and 12 RBI in conference games.   Except for a hot start to the season when he went 6-11 with an HR and 8 RBI at USF, Hoo has struggled once again at the plate and has been platooning but has been starting at least twice a weekend in conference play while usually hitting 8th.  He went 4-12 with a key RBI single in the ninth inning in the third game of the series in 2012 at Fullerton and is 5-19 in his career against the Titans.

C – SR #5 Elliot Stewart (RH – .232/.349/.435, 3-9-1.  ’12 – Medical Redshirt.  ’11 – .252/.302/.391, 2-17-1) split time with Hoo in 2011 but missed last season after having TJ surgery on this throwing elbow.  He has been starting about once a week and has more power in his bat than Hoo does but isn’t quite as good behind the plate.

1B – FR #12 Mark Mathias (RH – .219 in 32 AB’s) only had six AB’s in the first 26 games of the season but has started the last seven games at 1B while hitting 7th.  He does a decent job of making contact and is a solid defensive player who started twice at SS earlier in the season.

1B/LF – JR #24 Tim Wise (RH – .190/.288/.270, 0-8-1. ’12 – .308/.394/.423, 3-28-11. ’11 –

.286/.305/.482, 2-11-0 in 56 AB’s) showed some power potential as a FR but his playing time was limited due to injuries.  He had over 100 plate appearances without an extra base hit to start 2012 and was only hitting .260 going into the Fullerton series but got red hot and had fourteen extra base hits over the last six weeks of the season and hit .356 in conference games on his way to earning 1st team All-Big West honors.  Wise did a good job of getting on base and was in the top ten in the conference in runs and has good speed for a big player and was also in the top ten in the Big West in SB’s.  He has been battling injuries all season and hasn’t gotten untracked, striking out about 25% of the time, and only had three AB’s in eight games before starting in a couple of games last weekend and will probably be a reserve this weekend.  Wise went 5-13 with two SB’s last season at Fullerton.

Other reserves who have seen playing time at 1B have been Soph #14 Jordan Brower (LH – .194 in 31 AB’s.  ’12 – .167 in 30 AB’s) and Soph #44 Tommy Pluschkell (RH – .273 in 22 AB’s.  ’12 –.264/.350/.297, 0-8-1), who got off to a very hot start when he was inserted into the lineup halfway through 2012 but cooled off and hasn’t been able to recapture that magic.

2B – SR #1 Denver Chavez (Both – .400/.468/.504, 0-14-11.  ’12 – .288/.429/.388, 1-10-8.   ’11 – .277/.379/.345, 1-13-2.  ’10 – .233 in 73 AB’s) was a reserve for most of 2010 until late in the season and was a reserve in the first few weeks on 2011 before getting regular playing time and had a very good 16/14 BB/K ratio and set the school record with a Big West leading 17 SAC bunts.  Chavez once again found himself on the bench at the beginning of 2012 but moved into the lineup halfway through the season and stayed there the rest of the way and hit .317 in conference games with a solid 12-12 BB/K ratio.  He has been in the lineup since opening day this season and has taken advantage of his playing time and been Cal Poly’s best player while hitting leadoff and setting the table for the lineup.  Chavez leads the Big West in runs and hits and is second in AVG and OBP and is also in the top ten in the conference in SLG, total bases and 2B’s and is in the top thirty nationally in AVG and hits.  He has maintained his plate discipline and has an excellent 12-9 BB/K ratio.  Chavez has also been running well and is third in the Big West in SB’s and has only been caught stealing once.  He went 3-6 at Fullerton last season and is 6-14 in his career against the Titans, with one of his two career HR’s coming against Fullerton.

SS – #6 FR Peter Van Gansen (LH – .300/.393/.350, 0-7-0) came into Cal Poly as a good prospect out of HS and had some big shoes to fill with Mike Miller moving on and he has done a good job both at the plate and in the field.  He has had excellent plate discipline for a FR with a 14/15 BB/K ratio.  Van Gansen is one of the better bunters on the team and leads the Big West with seven SAC’s.  He doesn’t have much power with four extra-base hits (3 doubles, 1 triple) and usually bats 9th.

3B – JR #15 Jimmy Allen (RH – .290/.340/.384, 1-25-4.  ’12 – .345/.372/.507, 3-44-9.  ’11 – .261/.307/.395, 1-15-2) is a good athlete who was drafted in the 39th round out of HS and ended up being the regular LF as a FR and was moved to 3B in 2012.  He got off to a slow start as a FR before hitting better down the stretch and hit .324 in Big West games.  Allen got off to a hot start in 2012 and stayed hot throughout the season and finished among the Big West leaders in H, 2B, 3B, RBI, TB and SLG and hit .388 in conference games on his way to earning 1st team All-Big West honors.  He also has good speed and finished 10th in the conference in SB’s.  Allen has good bat speed but he can tend to chase pitches and has struck out about 25% of the time and was among the conference leaders with 38 strikeouts in 2012 and has had bad plate discipline this season with a 4/22 BB/K ratio.  He has been having a decent year while hitting third but hasn’t had a breakout season like many people expected him to have.  Allen went 5-13 at Fullerton in 2012 and is 7-21 in his career against the Titans.

 

Outfield

 

Cal Poly only lost one outfielder from 2012 but the loss was a major one with Big West player of the year Mitch Haniger being drafted in the supplemental first round and moving on.

LF – Soph #26 Jordan Ellis (LH – .339/.373/.492, 0-11-1.  ’12 – .200 in 15 AB’s) barely played in 2012 and only had five AB’s in the first fifteen games but once he got his chance to contribute he hasn’t come out of the lineup.  He hit .438 in his first nine games after getting into the lineup but has been slumping lately and only went 2-20 over the next six games before going 3-4 on Tuesday.  Ellis went 9-20 in the first two conference series but only went 1-11 last weekend against Hawaii.  He will usually hit second.  FR #2 John Schuknecht (RH – .243/.356/.459, 2-6-0) was playing regularly earlier in the season but lost his job to Ellis and hasn’t started in the last ten games.

CF – JR #13 David Armendariz (RH – .264/.313/.355, 1-12-7.  ’12 – .312/.366/.450, 4-36-13.  ’11 – .161/.175/.290, 1-4-0 in 62 AB’s) was given the chance to play early as a FR but struggled to get going before being replaced by Allen and didn’t play once conference play rolled around.  He got off to a bit of a slow start in 2012 compared to most of his teammates and was only hitting .258 with five RBI after eighteen games but got hot the rest of the way and hit .351 with three HR’s and 23 RBI in conference games.  Armendariz has a good power/speed combo and ended up in the top ten in the conference in HR’s and SB’s as well as in TB and SLG on his way to getting 2nd team All-Big West honors.  He will usually hit sixth and is still running and is second on the team in SB’s but hasn’t been hitting for nearly as much power with part of his problems the result of a poor 5/20 BB/K ratio.  Armendariz only went 4-23 in the first two conference series and sat out the first two games against Hawaii before returning to the lineup and going 2-4.  He had a good series at Fullerton in 2012, going 5-14 with two doubles.

RF – Soph #10 Nick Torres (RH – .328/340/.552, 6-29-4.  ’12 – .275/.360/.429, 5-28-0) got off to a hot start as a FR and was hitting .315 with 2 HR’s and 18 RBI’s over the first 24 games but cooled off considerably once Big West games started and only hit .215 in conference games.  He got off to a hot start once again this season and had an 18 game hitting streak earlier in the year but has cooled off lately and is only hitting .219 in conference games.  Torres is the cleanup hitter, has been one of the leading power hitters in the Big West and is among the conference leaders in HR, RBI, SLG, total bases, hits and 2B’s.  He has issues with plate discipline and led the team in strikeouts as a FR and has a poor 2/17 BB/K ratio this season.  Torres only went 1-10 at Fullerton but in his all or nothing style, the one hit was a big one because it was a three run HR.

DH – FR # 16 Brian Mundell (RH – .287/.352/.528, 7-23-2) is a big man who came into Cal Poly as a pretty well regarded recruit due to his power potential.  He has delivered on that promise and is tied for the lead in the Big West in HR’s and fifth in SLG and is already second in school history for the most HR’s by a FR.  Mundell got off to a hot start and hit all of his HR’s in a ten game stretch in March but has been struggling lately and is only hitting .212 in conference games.  He is a big man with a big swing and is third in the conference with 27 strikeouts.  Mundell will be batting fifth.

 

Defense

Fielding % – .973 (6/49) with 34 errors.  2012 – .978 (1/15) with 60 errors.  Cal Poly’s defense improved in 2012 after being below average for several years but they have regressed some this season with some of their issues being masked by a high strikeout rate by the pitching staff.  Hoo is one of the best catchers in the Big West.  1B has been a revolving door with Mathias settling things down over the last two weeks.  Chavez and Van Gansen make all of the plays on balls that they get to but have average range.  Allen was much better at 3B in 2012 and has been below average.  All of the OF’s are average to below average for their positions.

Stolen Base Attempts – 23-45 (4/xx).  2012 – 35-64 (2/xx).  Runners were 40-70 against Hoo in his first two seasons and are only 8-16 this year.   If Stewart gets a start this weekend, runners are 15-24 against him.

WP’s/PB’s Allowed – 24 (2/xx).  2012 – 39 (3/xx).  Cal Poly’s catchers have done a very good job the last couple of seasons of not letting runners take extra bases and their pitchers have confidence in them to keep the ball in front of them on pitches in the dirt.

 

Pitching

 

  • ERA – 3.12 (3/43).  3.48 in 2012 (4/55).
  • AVG – .267 (3/125).  .270 in 2012 (6/107).
  • HR – 6 (2/xx).  15 HR in 2012 (3/xx).
  • Walks – 102 (5/54), 3.1 BB/9 IP.  155 (3/27), 2.8 BB/9 IP in 2012.
  • HBP – 25 (4/xx).  30 in 2012 (2/xx).
  • OBP – .339 (5/xx).  .335 in 2012 (4/xx).
  • SLG – .342 (3/xx).  .341 in 2012 (6/xx).
  • WHIP – 1.35 (5/92). 1.33 in 2012 (5/60).
  • Strikeouts – 298 (1/6), 9.0 K/9 IP.  369 (3/132), 6.7 K/9 IP in 2012.

 

Starters

Cal Poly had two starters who earned All-Big West honors in 2012 and lost one of them, LHP Kyle Anderson, and the Sunday SP spot was plagued by inconsistency.  The Mustangs have been getting solid starts in almost every game this season with one of the middle relievers and the midweek starter taking their turn in the weekend rotation.

SR #30 Joey Wagman (RHP – 7-2, 2.95 ERA, 9 GS, 2 CG, 61 IP, 54 H, 17 BB, 72 K, .234 AVG, 0 HR, 4 HBP, 3 WP, 1-4 SB.  ’12 – 9-3, 2.33 ERA, 15 GS, 1 CG, 108 IP, 94 H, 21 BB, 79 K, .234 AVG, 2 HR, 5 HBP, 6 WP, 3-9 SB.  ’11 – 4-3, 3.62 ERA, 1 save, 17 apps, 7 GS, 65 IP, 54 H, 17 BB, 52 K, .228 AVG, 3 HR, 7 HBP, 5 WP, 3-6 SB.  ’10 – 1-2, 7.09 ERA, 12 apps, 5 starts, 33 IP, 45 H, 24 BB, 25 K, .328 AVG, 2 HR, 6 HBP, 7 WP, 3-5 SB) was a swingman in 2011 between midweek starter and middle reliever and he made a couple of weekend starts in Big West games.  He was moved into the Friday SP last season and thrived, finishing third in the conference in wins and ERA, second in IP and fifth in K’s and allowed two earned runs or less in ten of his starts and allowed only two earned runs in his last three starts and was 1st team All-Big West.  Wagman has gotten off to a strong start again this season and leads the conference in strikeouts and is #9 nationally despite not being a hard thrower with a fastball that sits in the 86-87 range along with an excellent changeup that he throws to freeze hitters, a curveball and a slider.  He is second in the conference and #8 nationally in wins, third in IP and eighth in AVG.  Wagman is especially tough to beat at home, where he is 5-0 in five starts with a 1.95 ERA with 45 strikeouts in 37 innings.  He usually has excellent control with two walks or less in seven of his nine starts, which allows him to pitch deep into games.  Wagman has had at least seven strikeouts in seven of his starts.  He is also very tough to run on and has only allowed 10-24 SB’s in his career.  Wagman allowed 5 R (3 ER) in 4 IP in two career relief appearances against Fullerton in 2010-2011 and lost his start at Fullerton in 2012 when he allowed 5 R (4 ER) on 7 H in 5 IP so he will be extra motivated against the Titans in the last time that he will face them.

Soph #48 Matt Imhof (LHP – 4-1, 1.51 ERA, 9 GS, 60 IP, 56 H, 17 BB, 57 K, .256 AVG, 2 HR, 12 HBP, 3 WP, 4-9 SB.  ’12 – 1-0, 3.04 ERA, 1 save, 17 apps, 4 GS, 47 IP, 37 H, 22 BB, 31 K, .222 AVG, 3 HR, 7 HBP, 1 WP, 7-9 SB) made some weekend starts as a FR when Cal Poly had four game weekends but ended up pitching out of the bullpen the rest of the time.  He was tough to hit but had some occasional command issues but he has straightened them out while working relief and has the most upside at the next level of the three starters.  Imhof has been doing a good job of spotting his fastball that sits in the 88-90 range and has a very good breaking slider that he uses as his swing and miss pitch and he is second in the Big West in strikeouts and he has struck out 11 hitters twice, including last weekend against Hawaii.  He has allowed either one or no earned runs in six of his starts, hasn’t allowed more than three earned runs in any of his starts and is second in the conference in ERA and has been especially tough at home, where he is 2-0 with a 0.30 ERA in four starts.  Imhof works inside to keep hitters off of the plate and leads the Big West with 12 HBP’s despite having solid control and not walking more than three batters in any of his starts.  He is doing a better job of holding runners this year, has an excellent move to first and leads the conference with five pickoffs.  Imhof threw very well in his relief appearance at Fullerton in 2012, holding the Titans to one run in 4 1/3 innings to keep Cal Poly in the Sunday game before Fullerton came back late to win the game and the series.

Soph #23 Ryan Granger (RHP – 5-3, 4.47 ERA, 9 GS, 44 IP, 50 H, 15 BB, 22 K, .299 AVG, 2 HR, 4 HBP, 4 WP, 5-10 SB.  ’12 – 1-1, 3.60 ERA, 8 GS, 30 IP, 34 H, 10 BB, 19 K, .293 AVG, 1 HR, 4 HBP, 2 WP, 2-4 SB) was the midweek starter in 2012 and ended up in the weekend rotation for his final two starts and threw six shutout innings at Riverside in the final game of the season.  He threw well in winning his first three starts, allowing 5 R (3 ER) in 19 IP against USF, Seattle and Washington, before scuffling and allowing five runs in each of his next two starts against Kansas State and Notre Dame.  He bounced back in his next three starts to pick up two wins against UCSB, allowing 3 R in 11 1/3 IP, and a no decision in 5 IP (2 R) against UC Davis but didn’t have it last weekend when he allowed 4 R on 7 H in 1 2/3 IP against Hawaii.  Granger isn’t a hard thrower with a fastball that sits in the upper 80’s and his best pitch is his slider and he has only struck out more than three hitters in one of his starts.

The midweek starters are FR #37 Casey Bloomquist (RH – 1-0, 6.94 ERA, 3 apps, 2 GS, 12 IP, 14 H, 4 BB, 13 K, .304 AVG) and SR #42 Kyle Brueggemann (RHP – 1-0, 6.35 ERA, 4 GS, 17 IP, 22 H, 5 BB, 16 K, .314 AVG.  ’12 – 4-4, 5.49 ERA, 13 GS, 57 IP, 76 H, 16 BB, 44 K, .315 BA, 2 HR, 5 HBP, 3 WP, 4-8 SB), who was the Sunday starter in 2012.  Bloomquist has thrown well in his last two starts against Bakersfield and Santa Clara, allowing two runs in each start and giving the Cal Poly coaching staff something to think about if they decide to take Granger out of the weekend rotation after his abbreviated start last Sunday.  Brueggemann has a good arm but was too inconsistent in 2012 due to not having much more than a solid fastball so when he was off he had no other pitches to fall back on.  He only made it into the 4th in his start at Fullerton in 2012 before being removed.

 

Relievers

The relief pitching was a strong area for Cal Poly in 2011 but that wasn’t the case for most of 2012 despite having a couple of pitchers with mid 90’s fastballs because the bullpen was responsible for losing ten games in the late innings that the Mustangs either were tied or had the lead in and the bullpen was probably the main reason that Cal Poly wasn’t in a regional last season.  The situation improved once the two flamethrowers were taken out of the set-up and closer roles and a couple of FR were moved into those spots with the Mustangs winning nine of their last ten games and going 14-3 down the stretch.  Cal Poly doesn’t have much depth in their bullpen and is relying primarily on two pitchers late in games.

Soph #41 Reed Reilly (RHP – 2-1, 1.83 ERA, 9 saves, 21 apps, 39 IP, 35 H, 11 BB, 50 K, .245 AVG, 0 HR, 0 HBP, 3 WP, 3-5 SB.  ’12 – 5-2, 2.80 ERA, 1 save, 25 apps, 55 IP, 57 H, 13 BB, 45 K, .288 AVG, 3 HR, 5 HBP, 3 WP, 5-10 SB.  ’11 – Redshirt) was the most reliable option in middle relief as a FR and moved into the closer’s role midway through the conference season as the other closer options faltered and he pitched very well down the stretch with a 1.61 ERA in twelve Big West games.  He was a workhorse who finished fifth in the conference in appearances and was 2nd team All Big-West.  Reilly has been even better this season and has allowed an earned run in only four of his conference leading 21 appearances and is second in the Big West with nine saves.  He is durable and able to pitch several innings without much of a problem and has pitched more than an inning in eleven of his appearances and has gone at least three innings six times.  Reilly throws in the low 90’s and has been getting great movement on his splitter and slider that he uses as his swing and miss pitches and he is 10th nationally averaging 11.4 K’s per 9 IP and has struck out at least two hitters twelve times.  He had an outstanding outing at Fullerton in 2012 when he picked up Cal Poly’s only win in the series with four scoreless innings in which he allowed only one hit.

JR #36 Michael Holback (RHP – 2-1, 3.86 ERA, 1 save, 13 apps, 28 IP, 30 H, 11 BB, 35 K, .275 AVG, 0 HR, 1 HBP, 3 WP, 2-4 SB.  ’12 – 0-2, 2.60 ERA, 1 save, 19 apps, 28 IP, 22 H, 13 BB, 25 K, .224 AVG, 1 HR, 1 HBP, 5 WP, 2-4 SB) is the middle reliever most likely to come into a game before Reilly is brought in and also throws in the low 90’s with a slider that he uses as his swing and miss pitch and has been getting hitters to do that quite a bit, averaging 11.3 K’s per 9 IP.  Holback hasn’t been quite as consistent as he was in 2012 and after getting off to a good start when he allowed only two runs in 17 IP, he was hit hard in his next three outings and allowed ten runs in four innings.  He bounced back last weekend against Hawaii and kept Cal Poly in the game on Sunday with five scoreless innings, allowing only two hits with six strikeouts.

 

Others

JR #32 Chase Johnson (RHP – 0-0, 4.35 ERA, 7 apps, 10 IP, 12 H, 5 BB, 13 K, .308 AVG.  ’12 – 3-4, 3.34 ERA, 8 saves, 25 apps, 35 IP, 29 H, 13 BB, 31 K, .244 AVG, 0 HR, 2 HBP, 2 WP, 3-4 SB.  ’11 – 2-5, 3.67 ERA, 18 apps, 8 GS, 49 IP, 49 H, 21 BB, 34 K, .269 AVG, 1 HR, 6 HBP, 2 WP, 2-5 SB) was a 26th round pick out of HS because of his live arm and has a fastball that sits in the mid 90’s range and a slider that he uses as his strikeout pitch.  He had issues with his control as a FR and those continued last season when he started out as the closer, finishing third in the Big West in saves, but lost his job during the conference season.  He hasn’t regained his confidence nor have the coaches regained their confidence in him and he has been limited to mostly pitching in long relief and non-pressure situations.

Soph #27 Taylor Chris (LHP – 0-0, 5.40 ERA, 1 save, 10 apps, 10 IP, 7 H, 9 BB, 8 K, .219 AVG) is the only LHP in the bullpen and might come into the game for a batter or two this weekend but the coaching staff usually doesn’t rely on him to come into the game in high pressure situations, preferring to have him pitch in midweek games and long relief.

Soph #35 Danny Zandona (RHP – 2-1, 2.08 ERA, 6 apps, 13 IP, 12 H, 5 BB, 11 K, .250 AVG.  ’12 – 0-1, 4.85 ERA, 1 save, 7 apps, 1 GS, 13 IP, 13 H, 3 BB, 8 K, .250 AVG) is the other long reliever on the pitching staff and usually doesn’t come into the game in a high pressure situation, although he has usually  thrown well when called upon and struck out four of the five Santa Clara batters he faced on Tuesday. 


Outlook

Fullerton has been one of the more consistent teams on the west coast, which you have to be in order to put together three separate ten game winning streaks in the same season.  The Titans might occasionally have trouble scoring in a game but they will battle and stay patient with their approach at the plate and with the outstanding starting pitching they have been receiving that has been enough to win all nine series they have played with sweeps in six of them.  That approach has also lent itself well to playing on the road, where Fullerton has the best record in the country away from home at 17-1.

Cal Poly traditionally plays very well at home and has their issues on the road and this year is no exception.  The Mustangs have gone 98-57 in SLO since 2008 but are only 64-83 away from home over the last six seasons.  Fullerton has also had their issues playing at Baggett Stadium in recent times with Cal Poly winning two of the last three series the teams have played on the central coast.

Both teams have the potential to be explosive on offense because they lead the conference in HR’s and SLG percentage.  Fullerton prefers to grind pitchers down by working counts and getting the key hit while Cal Poly prefers to be aggressive early in counts and jump on mistakes.  The team whose approach works best will go a long way towards determining who wins this series.

Runs figure to be tough to come by in the first two games with the way the starting pitchers for both teams are throwing and the four starters have combined to go 25-4.  Cal Poly has an element that Fullerton doesn’t have with a closer that they don’t mind going to for 2-3 innings but the Titans have a much deeper bullpen.  If Fullerton is able to get into Cal Poly’s bullpen early in the series they will have an advantage.  The Titans also have an advantage in the pitching matchup on Sunday.

This is the biggest series that Cal Poly has played in several years where they knew what was at stake in the series (nobody knew last season that the Big West title would be decided in that series) going back to 2009, the only time in their last three visits to SLO that Fullerton won a series up there.  It will be interesting to see how the Mustangs handle the pressure of playing in a big series.  Fullerton is used to playing on the road and used to playing in tough environments and tough situations.  This figures to be a closely fought series like the one at Goodwin Field was last season but Fullerton looks like they are a slightly better team and will find a way to narrowly escape SLO with a series win.



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