Two Midweek Games on Tap for Titans

May 17, 2011

PLAY BALL: The Titans (36-14) play two non-conference games this week against UCLA (29-19) and LMU (26-21) - weather permitting - but have the weekend off as they come down the stretch of the regular season.

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By sweeping Long Beach State over last weekend, the Titans retained their 2 1/2 game lead in the Big West Conference standings over UC Irvine, which has 6 games remaining.

Even if the Anteaters win out, Fullerton needs to win only two of the three final Big West games at Cal State Northridge to earn an automatic NCAA Tournament berth. Third-place Cal Poly has been eliminated from the title picture.

THIS WEEK IN TITAN BASEBALL:
May 17 at UCLA (Jackie Robinson Stadium), 6 p.m.
Follow the game: GameTracker / Internet audio on fullertontitans.com
Pitching Probables
CSF: RHP Christian Coronado (0-1, 5.87 ERA)
UCLA: RHP Zack Weiss (5-2, 2.55 ERA)

May 18 vs. Loyola Marymount (Goodwin Field), 6 p.m.
Follow the game: Gametracker / Internet audio on Fullertontitans.com / BigWest.tv
Pitching Probables:
CSF: RHP Jake Floethe (4-3, 3.47 ERA)
LMU: TBA

LAST WEEK: After a forgettable 7-0 non-conference loss at Pepperdine on Tuesday, the Titans beat the 49ers three times and have now beaten their L.A. County rivals 12 of the last 13 meetings.

On Friday night, Noe Ramirez outdueled Long Beach's Andrew Gagnon, 4-2. After each team scored a run in the first, the Titans took control in the fourth when Nick Ramirez homered and Michael Lorenzen tripled and scored on a passed ball. Ramirez logged his 13th save on Friday the 13th despite two Titan errors in the ninth.

Saturday night was bizarre. Fullerton opened a 9-0 lead after two innings and righthander Tyler Pill was on a roll. He struck out 8 batters through four innings and didn't allow a hit until the fifth. But an error and a wild pitch on a third strike prolonged the inning and Pill never got the third out in what became a 6-run frame and made the score 9-7.

Dylan Floro couldn't stop the Long Beach rally and the 49ers tied the game in the sixth and took an 11-9 lead into the bottom of the seventh. Richy Pedroza saved the Titans with a two-out, 3-run double and he and Ivory Thomas drove in insurance runs in the eighth. They became necessary when an error and two walks produced a run and put the tying runs on base in the ninth before Nick Ramirez nailed down the 14-12 win for his 14th save.

Righthander Colin O'Connell restored order Sunday, cruising for 7.2 innings in a 6-1 Titan win. He allowed only 3 singles and an unearned run before letting seniors Ryan Ackland (one out) and Raymond Hernandez (one inning) finish up. Nick Ramirez had 3 doubles and the offensively-efficient Titans used 3 sacrifice flies to gradually build a comfortable lead.

VERSUS THE BRUINS: Cal State Fullerton is 61-26-1 all-time against UCLA dating back to the Titans' first season at the Div. I level in 1975. Fullerton has been in control in the most recent history winning of 13 of its last 16,18 of its last 22, 25 of its last 31 and 40 of its last 49, but UCLA won two big ones in 2010 with a trip to the College World Series on the line. Fullerton won the first game of the 2010 Super Regional 4-3, but lost the final two games, 7-11 (10) and 1-8. With John Savage at the helm of the Bruins, the Titans are 20-5 against the Bruins, including 5-3 in postseason play. Over the years, the Titans and Bruins have met up 11 times in the postseason, with Fullerton holding a 7-4 advantage. The Titans are 4-2 in Regional Play (2-1 in 1979 and 2-1 in 2008) and 3-2 in the Super Regionals (2-0 in 2007 and 1-2 in 2010). With Dave Serrano at the helm of the Fullerton program, the Titans are 10-4 against the Bruins. The Titans are 26-14-1 when playing at UCLA, and 33-11-1 at home.

LAST TIME OUT WITH THE BRUINS: CSF 5, No. 24 UCLA 3, Mar. 29, 2011 - Tyler Pill and Carlos Lopez each drove in a pair of runs and Raymond Hernandez pitched three scoreless innings in relief for the save in the Titans' and Bruins' first meeting since the 2010 Super Regional. Pill had two RBI singles and Lopez had a two-run single as Fullerton won its 40th game with the Bruins in their last 49 meetings. Colin O'Connell (6.0 IP, 6 H, 3 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 4 K) threw 98 pitches and got the win. UCLA starter Zach Weiss (4.1, 4 H, 4 R, 3 K) suffered the loss allowing four of the Titans' five runs. Mitchel Beacom allowed a run on three hits in three innings of relief. A couple of errant throw accounted for a run for each team. O'Connell's bad pick off throw to first in the fourth handed the Bruins their first run. Ivory Thomas "stole" the run back in the fifth when he singled, stole second and third on back-to-back botched throws from Bruin first baseman Dean Espy, and pitcher Beacom and scored on the latter's error.

LAST YEAR AGAINST UCLA: &\#8232;In game one of the Super Regional... Nick Ramirez delivered the key base hit and later pitched out of a huge ninth-inning jam to save CSF's 4-3 victory in the opening game of an NCAA best 2-out-of 3 Super Regional. Ramirez picked up his 11th save after stranding runners at first and third with no outs in the ninth. His bases-loaded single keyed a 3-run fourth inning and Christian Colon's solo home run in the fifth proved the decisive run. Noe Ramirez allowed one run and struck out 13...

In game two of the Super Regional... With the Titans just one out away from advancing to the CWS, Tyler Rahmatulla hit a two-run home run off Raymond Hernandez that kept the Bruins alive and allowed them to eventually win Game 2. Fullerton rallied to tie the game in the bottom of the ninth, but saw relievers Kevin Rath and Kyle Mertins allow 4 runs (2 earned) in the top of the 10th. Dan Klein got the win...

In game three of the Super Regional... Rob Rasmussen pitched a 2-hitter and UCLA turned 12 hits and a critical Titan error into an 8-1 victory and a College World Series berth. The Bruins ended six years of mostly futility against the Titans, who had beaten them 19 times in 22 games before dropping back-to-back games Saturday and Sunday. Rasmussen allowed only five base runners and struck out nine. He retired 15 consecutive batters between Tyler Pill's lead-off single in the fourth inning and a walk to Richie Pedroza leading off the ninth.

In regular season action... On Apr. 6, first-inning home runs by Carlos Lopez, Corey Jones and Nick Ramirez staked Fullerton to a 5-0 lead in the first inning against Clayton Claypool, a lead they would not relinquish as they went on to win 6-1 in Los Angeles. It was just the second loss of the season for UCLA. On May 25 at Goodwin Field, Tyler Pill's first-inning home run off Claypool proved costly as the Titan pitching staff held the Bruins to just 3 hits in the 5-2 win.

VERSUS THE LIONS: The Titans hold a 66-24 al-time series lead over the Lions dating back to their first meeting in 1975. After losing three straight to LMU under former TItans player and coach Jason Gill (LMU Head Coach), the Titans have won both meetings in 2011, 5-1 and 5-0. The two teams played briefly in the same conference (SCBA) where the Titans held a 25-6 record in league play. They have split two meetings in the NCAA postseason in the 2000 Fullerton Regional at Goodwin Field. Fullerton is 34-10 at Goodwin Field and 31-13 on the road when playing Loyola Marymount.

LAST TIMES OUT:
CSF 5, LMU 1, Mar. 1, 2011 - Jake Floethe pitched seven strong innings and the Titans made the most of six hits to snap a three game losing streak to the Lions. It was the first time the Titans had beaten former player and assistant coach Jason Gill since he took over as LMU head coach in 2009. Richy Pedroza led the Titans with a pair of hits, a run and an RBI. Floethe allowed just three hits and walked two with three strikeouts. THe Titans score the only runs they would need in the first inning on a Blake Barber squeeze and a John Lally wild pitch and throwing error on the catcher with Anthony Trajano going to third on a ball in the dirt.

CSF 5, LMU 0 - Apr. 12, 2011 - Colin O'Connell faced just one batter over the minimum through six innings and Anthony Trajano and Carlos Lopez each had three hits to pace an 11-hit attack to improve to 2-0 on the year against the Lions. O'Connell allowed just two hits and and struck out four without a walk. Raymond Hernandez, David Hurlbut and Chris Devenski each tossed a scoreless inning behind O'Connell. Jacob Smigelski allowed all five Titans runs in the first two innings. Lion relievers Matt Florer, Jeremy Burrell, Sean McIntyre, and Chris Eusabio worked efficiently over seven innings of relief of Smigelski. The foursome scattered five Titan hits and struck out four. Mick Ramirez, Tyler Pill, Lopez and Blake Barber each drove in a run for Fullerton.

CORONADO TO GET HIS FIRST CAREER START: Freshman Christian Coronado (0-1, 5.87 ERA) will get his first career start Tuesday night against UCLA. The Right-hander has pitched in eight games this year totaling 15.1 innings. He has gone as long as 4.2 innings back on Apr. 21 at Cal Poly and has struck out as many as three batter on three occasions. He had back-to-back scoreless relief appearances on Mar. 27 at Hawaii and Apr. 5 against Pepperdine (3 IP, 1 BB, 3 K). His last appearance was last Tuesday at Pepperdine (1 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 1 K).

BE LIKE MIKE: Since returning from his sprained wrist seven games ago, freshman Michael Lorenzen has been on a tear, leading the team in hits (12), average (.500), runs (7), RBI (6) and stolen bases (6), all while playing a new position (centerfield).

LORENZEN PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Centerfielder Michael Lorenzen was named the Big West Player of the Week after leading the Titans to a three-game sweep of Long Beach State last weekend. After missing Tuesday's game at Pepperdine with wrist soreness, the centerfielder went 7-for-12 (.583) with six RBI and three stolen bases in the series. On Friday, he tripled and scored the game-winning run in the fourth inning of the Titans 4-2 win over the 49ers. On the night he finished 3-for-4 with an RBI and reached base all four times to the plate. In Saturday's wacky 14-12 win, the freshman doubled home two and singled home two in his first two at bats as the Titans jumped out to a 9-0 lead in the second inning. After the 49ers came all the way back to tie and go ahead, Lorenzen wound up scoring the game-winning run in the eighth after singling and stealing second. He wound up going 3-for-5 with two runs scored and four RBI in the game. In the series finale, his sacrifice fly drove home the game-winner in the Titans' eventual 6-1 triumph. Lorenzen was 1-for-3 with an RBI and a run scored on Sunday. Lorenzen is the first freshman of the season to win Big West Player of the Week accolades.

TWO-WAY CLOSERS: Nick Ramirez and Titan Hall of Famer Mark Kotsay are the only two players that both hit and pitch on the Fullerton all-time Top 10 saves list. Kotsay saved 14 games in his career, 11 of those in 1995 en route to a national championship. Kotsay was a career .404 hitter with 45 home runs and 216 RBI. He was 3-2 with 14 saves (10th all-time at CSF) and compiled a 3.90 career ERA. Ramirez is a career .315 hitter with 35 home runs and 147 RBI and is 5-4 with 32 saves and a 2.62 ERA on the mound. Ramirez in currently on the College Baseball Foundation's John Olerud Two-Way Player of the Year Watch List.

NICK SAVES: Southpaw Nick Ramirez saved five consecutive conference games (all three at UC Riverside and two against Long beach State) to move into a tie with Scott Wright for second all-time in Cal State Fullerton history with 32 career saves. He also ranks 5th in the Big West Conference record book. So far this season, Ramirez has passed Adam Jorgenson and Kirk Saarloos (22 saves), Ted Silva (26 saves) and Vinnie Pestano (27 saves), caught Wright's in second place and sits just two away from Chad Cordero's school record of 34 saves. Cordero set the record from 2001-2003. Ramirez's 14 saves on the year ranks him tied with Cordero (2001) for the second most in a single season. The single-season record is held by Wright, who recorded 22 saves for the 1984 national champions.

JUST ONE MORE THING: Regarding Nick Ramirez's saves... did you know that 13 of his 32 saves them have come on the tail end of Noe Ramirez starts? You can tack on one more (14) if you count games that Noe Ramirez pitched in. Both Ramirez's were a part of a relief effort that beat the UCLA Bruins on May 25, 2010 at Goodwin Field.

STREAKING THOMAS: Ivory Thomas has the Titans' longest current hitting streak at seven games going into Tuesday night's game at UCLA. Over the last 7 games, THomas has hit .379 (11-for-29) with two doubles, two RBI and an on-base percentage of .441.

YOUNG UP THE MIDDLE: Since the Titans' Apr. 26 game at San Diego, they have relied heavily on a young foursome playing up the middle. The freshman group of catcher Jared Deacon, shortstop Keegan Dale, second baseman Greg Velazquez and centerfielder Michael Lorenzen have combined to hit . 318 (95-for-299) with three home runs and 47 RBI.