OPENING DAY: Cal State Fullerton, currently ranked as the No. 1 team in the nation by three of the five preseason polls (National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association, USA Today Coaches, Collegiate Baseball) opens the season with a three-game series against Washington State beginning Friday night at 7 p.m. at Goodwin Field.
CATCH ALL THE ACTION: Audio for all three games of opening weekend will be streamed for free on fullertontitans.com, and live stats will also be offered. Check the Cal State Fullerton baseball schedule page for all links.
SOCIAL MEDIA: Follow @BaseballTitans for daily updates during the 2014 season.
SEASON OPENERS: Cal State Fullerton is 21-18 all-time in season openers, but 18-6 in openers occurring at home. The Titans opened the 2013 campaign with a 3-2 victory over USC at Goodwin Field. The victory snapped a three-year losing streak for Fullerton on opening day. The Titans had lost to Oregon (7-3 at home), North Carolina (4-3 in 11 innings at home) and at Florida (7-3) in each of the previous three years, respectively.
This will be the first time the Titans will open the season against Washington State and the 10th overall meeting between the teams.
2014 OUTLOOK: The Titans return 18 players from a 2013 squad that won 51 games. They return a lot of pieces to a pitching staff that set various new Titan records last season, including overall ERA (2.47), fewest runs per nine innings pitched (2.97) fewest walks per nine innings pitched (1.41), shutouts (11) and fewest walks (86). The bullpen also made their mark in 2013 as their 27 saves ranked second all-time, although the majority of those are no longer on the team after closer Michael Lorenzen was drafted by the Cincinnati Reds in the 2013 MLB Draft. The Titans also return a starting rotation of Thomas Eshelman, Justin Garza and Grahamm Wiest that excelled in 2013.
At the plate, the Titans return some key pieces including J.D. Davis (Big West First All Conference), Matt Chapman (Big West Second All Conference), and Austin Diemer (Big West Second All Conference). Davis and Chapman combined to hit nine home runs and drive in 87 RBIs in 2013. The pair slugged .436 and .457 respectively while Diemer had a solid sophomore season, putting up a .311 batting average with five doubles and a .391 on-base percentage.
CSF vs. WSU • ALL-TIME SERIES
First Year Played/Last Year Played 1976/2012
Overall Record 3-6
Current Streak Lost 2
Home Record 1-2
Road Record 1-2
Neutral Record 1-2
Longest Winning Streak 2 games (3/21/86 to 3/11/88)
Longest Losing Streak 3 games (6/2/76 to 3/27/84)
Extra Innings 0-1
Most Runs Scored in a Game 13 runs (6/2/76)
Most Runs Scored in a Game by Opponent 9 runs (3/13/12)
Largest Margin of Victory 12 runs (6/2/76)
Largest Margin of Defeat 5 runs, 2 times (last on 3/27/84)
WASHINGTON STATE NOTES: The 2014 Cougars were picked to finish eighth in the PAC-12 by a vote of the conference coaches. Washington State returns an experienced team, anchored by 25 letter winners from the 2013 squad that finished 23-32 overall and 15-15 in the PAC-12 Conference. They return seven position players that started the majority of the team's games in 2013 and bring back a pitching staff that combined for 52 of 55 starts last season. Five other position players made at least 13 starts in 2013.
VERSUS WSU: Washington State and Cal State Fullerton have met nine times dating back to 1976. The Titans are 3-6 lifetime against the Cougars. The Titans lost the last meeting between the teams, 9-8, in extra innings at Goodwin Field on March 13, 2012. That was the Titans first game against the Cougars in Goodwin Field and the first match up between the teams since 1988.
Friday's match up will mark the first time the Titans and Cougars have met on opening day in the 39-year history of the Titans baseball program.
VERSUS THE PAC-12: The Titans hold a 276-205-3 record all-time against teams currently in the PAC-12 Conference. Dating back to 1978, the Titans have opened the season on 22 occasions against a current member of the PAC-12. The Titans' record is 11-11 in openers against the PAC-12 after the Titans defeated USC 3-2 to open the 2013 season. Prior to last season, Fullerton last opened the season against a PAC-12 program with a 7-3 loss to Oregon on Feb. 19, 2010 at Goodwin Field as former CSF head coach George Horton returned. Fullerton and Stanford have opened the season against one another 15 times since 1982, with the Titans holding an 8-7 advantage. The Titans also have a winning record against seven teams in the PAC-12 in their 39-year history, but the Cougars are one of four programs in the conference to hold the upper hand on Fullerton in their all-time series.
REMEMBERING THE TITANS: Sophomore Jake Jefferies went 4-for-4 with a double, a RBI single and a run scored and Justin Garza pitched five scoreless innings to lead the Titans to a 7-0 victory over the Alumni on Jan. 25 at Goodwin Field.
Jefferies got the Titans on the board early in the first inning when he poked the ball down the third-base line with men on first and second and two outs. Alumni third baseman Corey Jones (2007-08, 2010) charged the ball and then launched a throw over first base trying to get the speedy Jeffries, allowing Matt Chapman to score to give the Titans a 1-0 lead.
Garza and the Titans pitching staff did the rest. Garza earned his second straight Alumni-game victory as he allowed four hits and struck out four. Willie Kuhl, Tyler Peitzmeier and Koby Gauna combined to pitch four innings of scoreless relief, allowing two hits to go with four strikeouts.
The Titans nursed a one-run lead through six innings and dodged a couple of threats from the Alumni, whose best scoring chance came in the fourth inning. They had runners on first and third with two outs, but a botched double steal attempt by Dustin Garneau (2006-09) and Jones ended with Jones getting tagged out after a rundown between third and home.
The Titans added some insurance in the seventh as they led off the frame with a double from J.D. Davis. Jefferies followed with a double of his own and then freshman Niko Pacheco singled in Davis from third. Jefferies would score on an ensuing double-play ball.
The scoring continued from the Titans in the eighth innings as they plated four runs on four hits, capped off by a two-run double from Davis. He finished the day 2-for-3 with two RBI and a pair of runs scored.
Alumni pitcher Eddie Delzer (1983-84), the winning pitcher from the 1984 championship game, started his 17th consecutive Alumni game. He faced one batter, getting Titans leadoff hitter Austin Diemer with the old exploding ball trick. The fake ball combusted into dust as Diemer made contact with the second pitch of the game. Delzer then grabbed the real ball out of his back pocket and made throw to first base.
The Alumni then borrowed one of the Titans starting pitchers as Grahamm Wiest took the mound and pitched four solid innings. He allowed one unearned run on three hits and struck out three.
Carlos Lopez, the 2013 co-Big West Player of the Year and Senior CLASS Award winner, had a triple in three at-bats for the Alumni, which featured former Titans such as 2013 Big West Conference Defensive Player of the Year Richy Pedroza (2010-13), current San Francisco Giants prospect Gary Brown (2008-10), two-time BWC honoree Blake Davis (2004-06), and 2006 Collegiate Baseball National co-Player of the Year Wes Roemer (2005-07), who came into pitch in the eighth inning.
PICKED TO WIN IT: Cal State Fullerton was picked as the favorite to win the 2014 Big West title as selected by the nine conference head coaches that voted in the Big West Baseball Preseason Coaches Poll, it was released by the league on Jan. 30.
The Titans were voted to defend their Big West title as the program garnered eight of the nine available first-place votes.
Fullerton, winner of the past four league titles, captured the 2013 league crown with a 23-4 mark, one game ahead of Cal Poly. Fullerton has won 11 conference championships in the Super Regional era (dating back to 1999; 15 years), sharing the titles with Nevada in 2000 and Long Beach State in 2008.
TITANS AND THE BIG WEST:
Overall, Cal State Fullerton has totaled 27 conference championships dating back to 1975, including 11 in the last 15 years. With last season's title, the Titans made their 35th postseason appearance as well.
Overall, Cal State Fullerton has posted a dominant 695-239-1 (.743) conference record over 39 seasons. Rick Vanderhook, the school's fifth Div. I head coach, has won two straight Big West crowns since 2012, following in the footsteps of his predecessors, Augie Garrido (14 conference championships), Larry Cochell (1), George Horton (7) and Dave Serrano (3).
A further breakdown has the Titans winning three PCAA conference championships (1975-76, 1987), eight straight SCBA titles (1977-84) and 16 while playing under the Big West name (1990-91, 94-95, 1997, 1999-2001, 2004-06, 2008, 2010-13). The Big West absorbed the PCAA records in 1990 upon its formation, giving the Titans 19 total Big West championships and a 522-193 (.730; 31 years) PCAA/Big West Conference record.
BUILDING ON EXCELLENCE: Sophomore Thomas Eshelman enters his sophomore year after an outstanding freshman campaign that earned him seven All-American nods and three freshman pitcher of the year awards. Eshelman's rookie season was one of the best in Fullerton history as he set a new Titans single-season record with a 27.7 strikeout-to-walk ratio after striking out 86 while issuing just three walks in 115.2 innings pitched. His 0.23 walks per nine innings set a new NCAA record and he also He also set Fullerton freshman records in innings pitched and ERA with a 1.48 mark, which ranks second in Cal State Fullerton all-time single season history.
WEEKEND WIND UP: Along with Eshelman starting on Fridays, the Titans round out their weekend rotation with sophomore Justin Garza and red-shirt junior Grahamm Wiest, both coming off stellar 2013 seasons.
Garza set a new Titans freshman records in victories (12) and winning percentage (1.000). He became just the fourth pitcher in Fullerton history to finish the season with at least 12 wins and no losses, the first since Matt Sorenson accomplished the feat in 1999. He tallied 115 innings pitched and led the team with 95 strikeouts. He earned seven All-American selections and was named the 2013 Big West Pitcher of the Year. Garza was also one of 10 semifinalists for the College Baseball Hall of Fame Pitcher of the Year Award.
As a sophomore, Wiest finished the year 9-3 with a 3.27 ERA and 76 strikeouts to solidify the rotation. His 1.12 walks allowed per nine innings ranked 13th in the country and his 5.85 strikeout-to-walk ratio rated 21st in the nation.
TITANS PRESEASON HONORS: The Titans will enter the 2014 season with a boatload of accolades on their belt. Cal State Fullerton was selected as the No. 1 team in the nation by three preseason polls (USA Today Coaches, Collegiate Baseball, National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association) to go along with a No. 2 rank in the Perfect Game Preseason Top 25 poll and a No. 4 selection in Baseball America's preseason poll.
Along with the team accolades, several Titans received preseason All-American honors. Thomas Eshelman received preseason All-American First Team selections from the NCBWA and Collegiate Baseball.
Justin Garza was selected to the first team on the NCBWA and Collegiate Baseball Preseason All-American teams and a third-team selection in Baseball America's Preseason All-American team.
Matt Chapman and J.D. Davis were each named Second-Team Preseason All-Americans by Baseball America.
STRENGTH OF SCHEDULE: In 2014, the Titans will play five opponents that advanced to the 2013 Division I Baseball tournament (Oregon, San Francisco, San Diego, Wichita State, UCLA). Of those opponents, UCLA advanced to the Super Regionals where they defeated the Titans on their way to the College World Series championship…CSF will play three opponents that finished 2013 ranked in Baseball America's Top-25 (No. 1 UCLA, No. 17 Oregon, No. 23 San Diego)…four of Fullerton's opponents were ranked in the top-50 of the NCAA's final top-50 2013 RPI ratings (No. 9 UCLA, No. 11 Oregon, No. 28 Cal Poly, No. 39 San Diego).
CONTINUED EXCELLENCE: The Titans have won 30-plus games in each of its 39 seasons at the Div. I level and are 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. The Titans have never had a losing season at the Div. I level. Fullerton comes in tied for third with Clemson and behind Arizona State and Miami. Pepperdine, which was ranked No. 5, saw its 32-year streak ended in 2010.
Consecutive 30+ win seasons (active)
1. Arizona State 51
2. Miami, Fla. 43
3. Cal State Fullerton 39
THE ROOKIES: Cal State Fullerton's 2014 class was ranked the No. 12 recruiting class in the nation, according to Baseball America's annual evaluation.
Under third-year head coach Rick Vanderhook and recruiting coordinator Mike Kirby, the Titans have welcomed 11 freshmen to Goodwin Field. Fullerton's 2014 class was the only one ranked amongst Big West Conference opponents and one of only three programs from California ranked in the top-25 along with No. 22 Loyola Marymount and No. 24 USC. Collegiate Baseball ranked Fullerton's 2014 recruiting class at No. 7.
From Baseball America's top-25 breakdown, two of Fullerton's 2014 opponents also had ranked recruiting classes; No. 7 Oregon (Feb. 28-Mar. 2) and No. 24 USC (Feb. 18, May 20).
DRAFT DODGERS: Seven Titans on the current roster have been selected previously in the MLB First-Year Players draft. Phil Bickford was selected with the 10th overall pick in the 2013 MLB Draft by the Toronto Blue Jays while Timmy Richards was taken in the 40th round by the Miami Marlins.
TITANS IN THE DRAFT (by round):
Phil Bickford 2013 1st round Toronto Blue Jays
J.D. Davis 2011 5th round Tampa Bay Rays
Austin Diemer 2011 26th round Cleveland Indians
Justin Garza 2012 26th round Cleveland Indians
Jake Jefferies 2012 34th round Washington Nationals
Timmy Richards 2013 40th round Miami Marlins
David Olmedo-Barrera 2012 40th round Oakland Athletics
TOP 50 FRESHMAN: Phil Bickford was ranked as the top freshman by Baseball America in the publication's evaluation of the top 50 freshmen in college baseball released in early February. In addition, Bickford was named the top prospect in the Big West Conference for the 2016 MLB Draft by Perfect Game, who predicted he would be selected in the first or second round.
TOP 50 SOPHOMORES: Ontario, Calif. native Justin Garza was ranked No. 12 by Baseball America in the publication's evaluation of the top 50 sophomores in college baseball. Garza, the 2013 Big West Pitcher of the Year, was also picked as the No. 1 prospect in the Big West Conference for the 2015 MLB Draft. Thomas Eshelman, the 2013 Big West Freshman Pitcher of the Year, was considered the third-best prospect in the Big West Conference for the 2015 draft.
TOP 100 SOPHOMORES: Justin Garza and Thomas Eshelman were also ranked in Perfect Game's evaluation of the top 100 sophomores in the country. Garza came in at No. 17 while Eshelman was ranked at No. 30. In addition, Perfect Game ranked Garza and Eshelman as the No. 1 and No. 2 prospects respectively from the Big West Conference for the 2015 MLB Draft.
TOP 50 JUNIORS: Matt Chapman was ranked No. 14 by Baseball America in the publication's evaluation of the top 50 juniors in college baseball while J.D. Davis was ranked No 20. Chapman, a 2013 Big West All Second Team selection, was also selected as the No. 1 prospect from the Big West Conference for the 2014 MLB Draft. Davis, a 2013 Big West First Team Selection, was ranked as the No. 3 prospect from the Big West Conference for the 2014 MLB Draft.
TOP 100 JUNIORS: Matt Chapman and J.D. Davis were also ranked in the top 40 of Perfect Game's evaluation of the top 100 juniors in college baseball. Chapman was ranked No. 16 while Davis placed No. 40. Furthermore, Perfect Game ranked Chapman as the top prospect from the Big West Conference for the 2014 MLB Draft and predicted he would be drafted in the first or second round. Davis was ranked as the fourth best prospect from the Big West Conference for the 2014 MLB Draft and was predicted to be taken in the second or third round.
TITANS IN THE BIG LEAGUES: The Titans have had 53 former players ascend to the major leagues since their first products, Dan Whitmer and Tim Wallach, got there in 1980. Khris Davis became the 53rd player in 2013 when he made his MLB debut on April 1st in a pinch-hitting appearance for the Milwaukee Brewers. Davis would go on to play in 56 games and make 30 starts in left field. He hit .279 with 11 home runs and 27 RBIs in 136 at-bats. He posted 10 doubles and a .949 OPS. Davis was one of eight former Titans (Kurt Suzuki, Justin Turner, Ricky Romero, Vinnie Pestano, Brett Pill, Reed Johnson, Mark Kotsay) to play a MLB game in 2013. Davis is currently listed at the top of the Brewers depth chart in left field for the 2014 season. In his three seasons (2007-09) as a Titan, Davis played in 150 games, starting in 122 of them, an hit .296 with 20 home runs and 92 RBIs. He also stole 32 bases in 36 attempts.