FULLERTON, Calif.--- The seventh-ranked Titans return home to Goodwin Field this weekend, as they'll host the Gonzaga Bulldogs in a three-game weekend series beginning Friday at 7 pm PT. Games two and three will be played on Saturday and Sunday at 6 pm and 1 pm respectively.
The Titans enter an eight-game homestand riding high after going 5-2 on their most recent seven-game road swing. Fullerton is coming off a two-game mid-week series sweep of Arizona State, where the Titans outscored the Sun Devils 23-8 over the two-game stretch.
PROBABLE STARTING PITCHERS
GON- RHP, Eli Morgan (1-1, 3.79 ERA) at CSF – RHP, Connor Seabold (1-2, 4.26 ERA)
GON- RHP, Justin Vernia (2-1, 3.12 ERA) at CSF – RHP, Gavin Velasquez (2-0, 0.00 ERA)
GON – LHP, Mac Lardner (1-0, 4.80 ERA) at CSF – TBA
CATCH ALL THE ACTION
Fans can follow the action with live stats and video (provided through Pac-12 Networks) at theSunDevils.com
Follow @BaseballTitans on Twitter for daily updates during the 2017 season. Fullerton baseball is also on Instagram, so make sure to follow the 2017 team all season @CSF_TitansBaseball.
RHP Colton Eastman and shortstop Timmy Richards are both out this weekend due to injury. Eastman will be out two to three weeks, while Richards is listed as day-to-day. Ruben Cardenas is also day-to-day with a back injury.
SCORELESS STREAK FOR VELASQUEZ
Sophomore Gavin Velasquez earned his first start of the year last Saturday at Houston. He was nearly perfect, tossing 7.0 innings of scoreless baseball, allowing just three hits, no walks, while striking out three. He's now thrown 17.1 innings of scoreless baseball to begin the season. He's now tied for the team lead in wins with two, as he's collected the victory in each of last two outings.
GET AHEAD, STAY AHEAD
The Titans are 6-1 when scoring first this season, while they're 4-1 when leading after the sixth and seventh frames and 5-1 when leading after eight.
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 2.22 ERA once again so far this year. Fullerton has surrendered two runs or less on five separate occasions this season. The Titans are 5-0 during that span.
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 7-4 on the season, but that mark could easily be 9-2. 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…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 0.68 ERA to go along with a team-high 12 punch outs. Last Sunday he tossed a career-best 7.1 innings of scoreless ball en route to Fullerton's 5-0 shutout victory.
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.
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. 12
USA TODAY Coaches Poll: No.11
NCBWA Poll: No. 14
Perfect Game: No. 16
D1Baseball: No. 12
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 1,109 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 198 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.