Titans Flood Big West Conference Awards
IRVINE, Calif. - The 2013 Big West Conference awards are flooded with orange and blue as Cal State Fullerton nabbed five of the six annual awards.
The Titans swept the pitching category with Justin Garza grabbing Big West Pitcher of the Year accolades and Thomas Eshelman collecting Big West Freshman Pitcher of the Year honors, while Rick Vanderhook collected his second consecutive Big West Coach of the Year award.
The final award was handed to UC Santa Barbara's Robby Nesovic, who received Big West Freshman Player of the Year recognition.
Garza, the Saturday starter for the third-ranked Titans, becomes the second straight Cal State Fullerton hurler to garner Big West Pitcher of the Year after Dylan Floro collected the honor in 2012.
In 99 and 2/3 innings pitched, Garza has tallied a 2.08 ERA to rank fourth in the league, while striking out 80 batters. Garza earned Big West Pitcher of the Week honors on March 11 following an impressive outing versus NCAA participant Texas A&M. He handcuffed the Aggies to the tune of seven scoreless innings, scattered just five hits and walked one while striking out five during the 109-pitch effort that racked up his second combined shutout.
Garza is also one of 22 players recognized on the College Baseball Hall of Fame Pitcher of the Year midseason watch list.
Lopez is the third Titan in four years to nab Big West Field Player of the Year following an outstanding senior campaign. Hailing from Northridge, Calif., Lopez is hitting .344 on the season to rank seventh in the league, while driving in 34 RBI. He currently ranks second in the Big West in runs scored with 50 and is tied for fifth with 75 hits.
Lopez is one of 10 finalist for the 2013 Senior CLASS Award in collegiate baseball.
Eshelman, the other half of the unstoppable freshman duo that lifted Cal State Fullerton to its 27th Big West title, paces the league with an impressive 1.63 earned run average in 99 and 2/3 innings pitched, good enough for 18th in the country and second for freshman weekend starters across the nation.
On March 4, Eshelman nabbed Big West Pitcher of the Week honors after throwing a complete game four-hitter against then-ranked No. 14 Oregon in the Titans' 8-2 victory. Eshleman, who has been selected by USA Baseball as a semifinalist for the 2013 USA Baseball Golden Spikes Award, became the first freshman to start a season opener for the Titans since Feb. 5, 1987 when Mark Beck took the mound vs. Saint Mary's.
Along with the conference title came an automatic bid into the 2013 NCAA Tournament, giving the Titans their 22nd consecutive appearance in the postseason, the third-longest active consecutive streak in the nation behind Miami (41 years) and Florida State (36 years). The Titans claimed the No. 5 national seed in the 2013 NCAA Division I Baseball Championship and are hosting the regionals for the 11th time.
Big West Champion Cal State Fullerton dominated the All-Big West First Team with seven selections. Representing the Titans are Carlos Lopez (1B), Richy Pedroza (SS),J.D. Davis (DH), Justin Garza (SP), Thomas Eshelman (SP) and Michael Lorenzen (OF/CP), who collected first-team nods in two positions for the second year in-a-row.
In addition, he has been named to the John Olerud Two-Way Player of the Year Award watch list as well as the NCBWA Stopper of the Year Midseason watch list. In addition, Lorenzen was named a semifinalist for the NCBWA Dick Howser Trophy.
The starting center fielder and closer is 18-for-21 in save attempts this season, but in three blown save attempts, kept the Titans within reach to record the win. His 18 saves in 2013 rank second in Fullerton single-season history, and currently ties for third in the country.
In two years on the mound, Lorenzen has totaled 34 saves, a number that matches Chad Cordero and Nick Ramirez for first all-time at Fullerton.
In 21 appearances this season, Lorenzen has tossed 22 innings, striking out 18 and managing a 2.05 ERA while holding opposing batters to a .210 clip, and adding a 3-0 record to his 18 saves.
Lorenzen has driven in the game-winning run for the Titans a team-leading seven times in 2013.
At the plate, Lorenzen is batting .335 and ties for the conference lead with 50 RBIs while managing a .534 slugging percentage, with 40 runs scored, 69 hits, 12 doubles, four triples and a team-leading seven home runs. Lorenzen has also totaled 19 multiple-hit games and 11 multiple-RBI games. His 13-game hitting streak from March 15-April 2 was the longest for any Titan this season, as Fullerton went 12-1 during that stretch while Lorenzen batted .469 with 19 RBIs, three doubles, three home runs and 13 runs scored.
On the mound, Davis boasts a 1-1 record with a 2.14 ERA and four saves. In 21 innings on the hill, Davis has struck out 16.
Lopez, Lorenzen and Pedroza each earned Big West first team honors for the second time in their career.
Also for Cal State Fullerton, Chad Wallach, Matt Chapman and Austin Diemer were named to the Big West Second Team, while Grahamm Wiest, Koby Gauna and Tyler Peitzmeier received honorable mention accolades.