Powerhouses Clash This Weekend in Baton Rouge

March 9, 2011

PLAY BALL: Since 1979 - the end of USC's dominance at the College World Series - Cal State Fullerton (8-3) and Louisiana State (11-1) have combined for nearly one third (10) of the national championships earned over the past 32 seasons. This weekend, the two will square off in Baton Rouge, La., playing in the first non-conference series between the two nationally-ranked programs in their histories.

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THIS WEEKEND IN TITAN BASEBALL:
Fri., Mar. 11 at LSU (Alex Box Stadium), 5 p.m. PT
Follow the Game: Live Stats / Live Audio / TV - CST (Regional)
Pitching Probables:
CSF - RHP, Noe Ramirez (2-1, 1.71 ERA)
LSU - RHP, Kurt McCune (3-0, 147 ERA)

Sat., Mar. 12 at LSU (Alex Box Stadium), 12 p.m. PT
Follow the Game: Game Tracker / Live Audio
Pitching Probables:
CSF - RHP, Tyler Pill (1-0, 1.86 ERA)
LSU - RHP Kevin Gausman (2-0, 2.55 ERA)

Sun., Mar. 13 at LSU (Alex Box Stadium), 11 a.m. PT
Follow the Game: Game Tracker / Live Audio / TV - CST (Regional)
Pitching Probables:
CSF - RHP, Colin O'Connell (2-0, 0.82 ERA)
LSU - RHP, Ben Alsup (2-1, 2.30 ERA)

LAST WEEK: Last week the Titans dominated their opponents from the mound and compiled a perfect 4-0 record on the week against Loyola Marymount and USC.

Behind a 3-hit, 7-inning performance by Jake Floethe, the Titans snapped a three-game losing streak to the Lions and Head Coach Jason Gill - a former Titan player and assistant coach - with a 5-1 win at Goodwin Field on Tuesday night. Richy Pedroza had two hits and an RBI to lead the way.

The Titans logged their first series sweep of the season, stifling the USC offense from the mound in 10-1, 7-3 and 2-1 victories over the weekend. The Titans held the Trojans to just nine hits in the series.

On Friday Noe Ramirez (8 IP) and David Hurlbut (1 IP) combined to one-hit the Trojans, completing the first Titan one-hitter since 2007. Ramirez (2-1) struck out 8 and gave up a hit and the lone Trojan run in the fifth inning. National Player of the Week Anthony Trajano went 2-for-4 and drove home a season-high 4 runs and Carlos Lopez had 3 hits and a pair of RBI to lead the Titans offensively.

Trajano, Nick Ramirez and Walker Moore each had 2 hits and 2 RBI in the series clincher on Saturday as Tyler Pill (1-0) allowed just 3 hits and 3 runs (2 unearned) for his first win of the year. The Titans' 4-run fifth inning was the big blow. Dylan Floro notched a 2-inning save, his first of the year.

In almost unbelievable fashion, the Titans completed the sweep of the Trojans on Sunday in just 1 hour and 52 minutes. Colin O'Connell (2-0) allowed an unearned run over 8 innings and Nick Ramirez struck out the side in the ninth for save No. 3 in less time than both teams needed for batting practice prior to the game. Pedroza's RBI-double off the third baseman's glove in the third put the Titans on the board, and a Trajano triple and Carlos Lopez sac fly brought home the eventual game winner in the fourth.

VERSUS LSU: The Titans have a brief history with Louisiana State with most of it coming in the NCAA postseason. All-time, the Titans hold a 4-3 advantage, with just one of the seven games being played outside of the Regionals and College World Series. The Titans and Tigers first met in the 1987 Regional at the University of New Orleans and last met in the 2003 College World Series. In postseason play, the Titans are 3-3 against the Tigers and hold a 2-0 record in Omaha. The only non-postseason game the two teams have played came in 1988 at the Busch Challenge at the Superdome in New Orleans, La. Fullerton is 1-2 at LSU in the old Alex Box Stadium.

SEC-CESS: The Titans are 20-9 all-time against the current line-up of Southeastern Conference opponents (2-1 vs. South Carolina, 3-0 vs. Tennessee, 4-3 vs. LSU, 3-1 vs. Arkansas, 5-1 vs. Mississippi State, and 3-3 vs. Alabama). Of those 29 games, 14 of them have come in postseason play with Fullerton going 9-5 in those 14 games. At the College World Series the Titans are 8-3 against the SEC. In 36 years at the Div. I level (since 1975) the Titans have yet to face Vanderbilt, Florida, Kentucky, Georgia, Ole Miss and Auburn.

NATIONAL PLAYER OF THE WEEK: In addition to Big West Conference Player of the Week honors, Cal State Fullerton infielder Anthony Trajano was named the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association National Player of the Week after helping the Titans to a perfect 4-0 week over LMU and USC. The junior college transfer batted .462 and extended his hitting streak to five games while also accounting for half (12) of the Titans' 24 runs on the week. From the No. 2 hole in the Titan lineup, Trajano drove in seven runs and scored five times while also scoring or driving in the game-winning runs in each of the Titans' four victories. He scored the eventual game-winning run in the second inning on Tuesday against LMU and also singled and drove in a run in the 5-1 win over the Lions at Goodwin Field. With USC in town, Trajano drove in a season-high four runs in Friday night's opener including what figured to be the go-ahead RBI with a two-run single to left in the third. On Saturday he drove home two and wound up scoring the game-winner after doubling in the Titans' 4-run 5th inning. In Los Angeles on Sunday, he tripled and scored the winning run in the 2-1 win over the Trojans, wrapping up the weekend sweep. In addition to six hits on the week, Trajano was also hit by two pitches, walked once, and added a pair of sacrifice bunts to boot. The versatile infielder also played a perfect defense with no errors in 18 touches of the ball.

NOE WAS NAILS: In his third start of the year, Noe Ramirez spun up his best performance of the year, one-hitting USC for eight innings, surrendering just one earned run while striking out 8. Ramirez was lifted for a reliever in the 9th in the 10-1 blow-out, but combined with lefty David Hurlbut to complete the first one-hitter for Fullerton since Sean Urena pitched one against Rice On Mar. 4, 2007 (exactly four years to the day). Ramirez retired 12 of the first 13 batters (4 strikeouts) and 10 of the last 11 (four strikeouts) batters he faced.

ON THE CLOCK: The Titans must have had their cab waiting for them as they buzzed through Sunday's game at USC's Dedeaux Field finishing the nine-inning, 2-1 victory in just 1 hour and 52 minutes. The Titans have not had a game finish in less than two hours in at least the last 10 years. One the mound for the speedy contest was junior Colin O'Connell, who whizzed through the Trojan lineup inducing 15 ground outs, 5 fly outs while striking out two without a walk. At one point, the lanky right-hander set down 14 Trojans in a row before a seeing-eye grounder got through the right side in his final inning of work. Of the 54 outs in Sunday's game with USC, there were 32 groundouts and just 10 fly outs combined by both teams.

PITCHING IN: The Titans starting pitching (Jake Floethe, Noe Ramirez, Tyler Pill and Colin O'Connell) continued to flourish this week, going 4-0 with a 0.90 ERA while holding their opponents (LMU and USC) to a .109 batting average against. On the week the Titan starters allowed just 10 hits in 30 innings of work. In all, the foursome have contributed 10 quality starts (6-plus innings with less than three runs allowed) in 11 games so far.

LAST WEEK'S BULLPEN: The Titan bullpen was near perfect in six innings last week against Loyola Marymount and USC. The four reliever (Dylan Floro, Chris Devenski, David Hurlbut and Nick Ramirez) combined to surrender just three hits while striking out seven without a walk. The opponents didn't score off the Titan relievers and hit just .143. Floro worked in two of the games, good for three innings. He and Ramirez each walked away with a save this week, Floro his first, Ramirez his third.

RICHY RICH: Richy Pedroza continues to be a pest atop the Titans' batting order. The week after being named conference player of the week, the shortstop led the team in hits and batted .471 (8-for-17), extending his team-leading hitting streak to seven games. Over those seven games, Pedroza has hit .483 (14-for-29) with 2 doubles and 3 RBI.

TITAN TIDBITS:

&\#149; All three of Colin O'Connell's starts have resulted in close 1-run victories (4-3, 2-1, 2-1). The righty has given up just two earned runs over 22 innings.

&\#149; The Titans hit .280 as a team last week upping their team batting average to .267. Conversely they held their opponents to a .110 average in the four games last week, lowering the opponent's average against them to .217 overall.

&\#149; The Titan pitching staff has not surrendered more than 10 hits in their last seven ballgames, and have not allowed more than four in their last four games.

&\#149; The Titans' win against LMU was the first in four tries against Head Coach Jason Gill. Gill was a former Titan player and assistant coach and had been 3-0 against Fullerton since taking over the reigns of the Lions in 2009.