Kaplan-Strasburg Matchup Kicks Off Series with SDSU

May 15, 2008

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BATTER UP: Cal State Fullerton (32-17) takes a week off from midweek and Big West play to host Hall of Famer Tony Gwynn and his San Diego State Aztecs (30-23) in the team's last regular season home series at Goodwin Field, Thursday, Friday and Saturday.

For the second week in a row the Titans beat a West Coast Conference team in a midweek tilt, then took a Big West Conference series for a 3-1 week. The Titans walloped Pepperdine 9-1 on Tuesday night then sandwiched a pair of wins (6-4, 12-9) over Cal Poly around a 11-4 Saturday loss.

PROBABLE PITCHING ROTATION:
Thursday, May 15, 2008 vs. San Diego State, 7 p.m.
CSF: RHP, Jeff Kaplan, 9-1, 4.31 ERA
SDSU: RHP, Stephen Strasburg, 8-1, 1.28 ERA

Friday, May 16, 2008 vs. San Diego State, 7 p.m.
CSF: RHP, Daniel Renken, 4-5, 3.72 ERA
SDSU: Nate Solow, 5-6, 4.46 ERA

Saturday, May 17, 2008 vs. San Diego State, 6 p.m.
CSF: RHP, Cory Arbiso, 10-2, 4.29 ERA
SDSU: TBA

IN THE POLLS:
Baseball America: 8
Collegiate Baseball: 11
USA Today/ESPN Coaches: 12
NCBWA: 11
Rivals.com: 9

Baseball America, like Rivals.com did a week before, bumped the Titans into their Top 10 this week in its weekly national poll. The 2008 Titans went unranked by the baseball publication in the preseason for the first time in 10 years.

NO MIRACLE FOR 34: The Titans are no strangers to the 30-win season. And with their 9-1 win over Pepperdine on May 6, they accomplished the feat for the 34th time in 34 years at the Div. I level. No Titan team at the Div. I level has ever finished with a losing record. The worst season in the program's history came in 1989 when Larry Cochell's squad went 30-27. Fullerton has posted 40-or-more wins in a season 22 times, 50-or-more eight times and 60-or-more twice (1979 and 1984 championship seasons).

COLON, FELLHAUER ACCEPT USA INVITE: USA Baseball announced last week that Cal State Fullerton sophomore outfielder Josh Fellhauer and freshman shortstop Christian Colon have accepted invitations to the 2008 National Team Trials to be held June 11-23 throughout the northeast and southeast United States. Fellhauer (Rancho Cucamonga, Calif/Rancho Cucamonga High School) and Colon (Corona, Calif/Canyon High School) are two of 12 colligate player to have already accepted invitations and will be part of 32 of the nation's best collegiate athletes vying for 22 National Team roster spots. Cal State Fullerton has been one of USA Baseball's major suppliers of talent over the years, having produced five Olympians, while sending 17 players to the U.S. National Team. The last two Cal State Fullerton products to don the Red White and Blue were Wes Roemer and Kurt Suzuki in 2006.

ALL-TIME VS. SAN DIEGO STATE: The Titans have posted a 29-10 overall record at the Div. I level against the Aztecs dating back to their first meeting in 1975. In the postseason, the Titans also have a 2-1 edge, winning 2-of-3 games in the 1984 Fresno State Regional. The Titans needed 11 innings to beat the Aztecs in their fourth game of Regioanl that year as they went on to advance to Omaha and win the national championship in seven games.

Last year the two teams split the two-game midweek series, with the Titans beating the Aztecs 9-8 at home on Feb. 27, 2007, while the Aztecs took the first game at Tony Gwynn Stadium 8-7 on Feb. 20.

The Last time the Titans and Aztecs played on back-to-back days, the Titans won 2-1 and 1-0 on Mar. 14 and 14, 1989, respectively.

The last time the Titans played a three-game seires was Mar. 10 (DH) and 11 in 1979. The Titans swept the series by scores of 13-6, 10-3, and 10-4.

GIVE IT UP: Fullerton is led by freshman Christian Colon who has given himself up 17 times this year, ranking 4th in the nation in total sacs, and 5th in the country in sacs-per-game with 0.35. His 17 sac bunts put him atop the Big West.

SAC-RELIGIOUS: The Titans believe in the sacrifice bunt and have already broken into the Fullerton Div. I Top Ten in total sacs with 66 on the year. The 66 is good for 2nd in the conference and 3rd in the nation. The Titans and the Big West Conference are led by freshman Christian Colon who has given himself up 17 times this year, ranking 4th in the nation in total sacs, and 5th in the country in sacs-per-game with 0.35. Colon is now tied with Jack Jones (1994) for the most sacrifice bunts by a freshman.

DOS IN THE NATION: Fullerton trails South Florida by just one hit by pitch for the nation's top spot in HBPs. The Titans have been plunked 102 times this year led by freshman Christian Colon who has 12 to his credit. Five other Titans have been hit 10 times each. South Florida and Cal State Fullerton have one thing in common, and that is Asst. Coach Bryant Ward. Ward was with Cal State Fullerton for two seasons as a facilities manager under former head coach George Horton from 2005-06.

MORE ON HBPs: The Titans are now in the NCAA record book three times in the Hit By Pitch category as they have tied themselves (1998 team) with 102 HBPs this year. The Titans also hold the No. 6 spot (117) in the Top 15 that is led by the 2005 Notre Dame team that took 130 doses.

HOMER HAPPY: The Titans have homered in seven of their last eight games. Brian Wilson, Gary Brown, Erik Komatsu, and Jared Clark have all homered twice during that spans, while Joel Weeks, Josh Fellhauer and Dustin Garneau have each added one round tripper to the mix. The Titans have hit 36 total home runs this season, the fewest since the 2003 team hit just 37 all year.

DOUBLE TIME: Jared Clark is tied for the team lead with Erik Komatsu in extra base hits this year, but the first baseman is leading the way with 19 doubles so far. Clark sits just outside the Cal State Fullerton single-season Top Ten and has a chance to break into it with just five more doubles.

BROWN WITH ENVY: Freshman Gary Brown is eying the his teammates who's averages are hovering around the .300 mark. Brown, whose average was just below .200 on Mar. 28, has seen his batting average steadily climb up to .285 heading into this weekend. The outfielder has the team's longest current hitting streak at six games and is hitting .529 over that span (9-or-17) with a pair of home runs and five RBI.

BACK ON TRACK WITH THE RUNNING GAME: The Titans sit atop the Big West Conference and 12th in the nation with 100 stolen bases on the year. Fullerton, over the last six games, have swiped 16 of 18 bases, and have stolen no less than two in each of those games. Freshman outfielder Gary Brown took over the team-lead last weekend when he stole his 15th and 16th bases against Cal Poly. Erik Komatsu and Josh Fellhauer are second on the team with 14 thefts. This year marks the first time since 2003 that a Titan squad has stolen 100 bases.

PERFECT 10: Sundays have treated Cory Arbiso well over the last 10 weeks. The junior has gone a perfect 10-0 since being moved out of the Saturday slot, but with this week's schedule being shifted due to CSF's commencement, the right-hander will find himself back on the bump on Saturday night with his streak on the line. Since shifting to Sunday's, the La Mirada native has averaged 7 innings in each of his starts. The junior posted his first complete game on Mar. 30 where he fanned a career-high 10 hitters as he seven-hit UC Riverside. He has also posted wins over No. 1 Arizona and No. 5 UC Irvine in that slot in the rotation. On May 4, Arbiso held a good-hitting UC Santa Barbara team to just three hits and a run over eight innings of work in the Titans 11-1 win. The hurler ranks 23rd in nation with just 1.24 walks per nine innings. He is currently tied for 1st in the Big West Conference (With UCI's Scott Gorgen) and has the second-most wins the nation with 10. Just three other pitchers (Aaron Crow, Missouri; Bryan Cryer, New Orleans; Carlos Luna, Oral Roberts) in the nation have 11 wins.

...THURSDAY, FRIDAY KAPPY DAYS: Starter Jeff Kaplan will take the challenge of pitching on a different night, as he has already posted a Tuesday night win in addiiton to his eight other Friday night victories this year. The senior will take on the Aztecs this Thursday night having won five consecutive Big West Conference outings, averaging 8-plus innings of work over those five starts. He has also picked up eight consecutive wins without a defeat, and has earned a victory in six consecutive starts. Coming into this week's start, Kaplan is third in the Big West in innings pitched (87.2), has the second-most wins (9), and is tied for fourth in strikeouts (72). Earlier this year the right-hander notched wins against No. 3 UCLA, No. 1 Arizona and No. 5 UC Irvine while posting a 2.70 ERA with 17 strikeouts in 20 innings pitched against them. In addition to wins against the Bruins and Anteaters and held the top-ranked Wildcats to two runs on eight hits over 6.1 innings in a no-decision. He tossed his fourth-career complete game on May 2 at Santa Barbara in the Titans' come-from-behind 7-4 win in Goleta.

OPENING ACT: Junior outfielder Erik Komatsu owns the opponent best pitchers in the opening game of three-game series. The left-handed hitting Komatsu has posted a .469 batting average (23-for-49) including four doubles, four triples and two home runs. To go along with that, Komatsu has driven in 17 runs and has a slugging percentage of .837. The Camarillo native has also reached base via four walks, three HBPs and also has 2 sac-flies to his credit over the 12 weekend openers thus far. Komatsu is Currently leading the team with a .361 batting average (8th in the Big West), 7 home runs (Tied for 8th in conference), 43 RBI (tied for 8th in conference) and has 14 stolen bases (tied for 9th in conference) to boot from the No. 3 hole in the Titan lineup.

OFF THE BENCH: The Titans' bench has been very productive over the past 10 games, posting a .429 batting average (9-for-21) including two pinch-hit home runs (Brian Wilson and Khris Davis) and 10 RBI. Matt Fahey, Davis, and Wilson each have two hits each.