FULLERTON, Calif. – The Time everyone has been waiting for is finally here. Fullerton opens the season Friday at 12:00 p.m. PT against No. 19 TCU at the inaugural MLB4 Tournament in Talking Stick, Ariz.
Following their matchup with the Horned Frogs Friday, the Titans take on the No. 1 ranked team in the nation, Vanderbilt, Saturday afternoon at 12:00 p.m. PT. To finish off the tournament, Fullerton will square up with Virginia Sunday afternoon in 2:00 p.m. PT start.
The Titans will look to sophomore pitcher Tanner Bibee to get the season started in the right direction against TCU on Friday. Bibee came alive at the end of the 2018 season, helping clinch the Stanford regional in the Titans 5-2 win over the Cardinal in which Bibee struck out a career-high 11 batters.
Fellow sophomore Timothy Josten eyes his opportunity to make an impression on the national stage against No. 1 Vanderbilt Saturday afternoon. Josten made three starts and 13 appearances last season and posted a 0-1 record with a 4.15 ERA. The numbers, however, don't tell the whole story as Josten made significant improvements over the summer and fall.
Last but not least, the Titans probable Sunday starter against Virginia is freshman righty Michael Knorr. The 6-foot-6 freshman was impressive in the Titans game against the Alumni where he went four innings giving up just four hits against his own teammates as he pitched for the Alumni.
Fullerton doesn't have much of a history against any of its opponents this weekend. The Titans have faced TCU 22 in the history of the two programs and have the edge with a 15-7 record, including winning the last four matchups. However, the two teams haven't played each other since 2013.
The Titans and Vanderbilt have played just one time, and fittingly for the two programs it came in the College World Series where the Titans fell 4-3. Fullerton and Virginia each have one win against each other in just two matchups all time with the last meeting coming in 2009.
Following the MLB4 Tournament the Titans return home on Monday to host Washington at Goodwin Field in a Super Regional Rematch with first pitch at 2:00 p.m. PT.
DYNAMIC DOUBLE-PLAY DUO
The Titans return two of the top middle infielders in the country in junior shortstop Sahid Valenzuela and senior second baseman Hank LoForte. Valenzuela tallied a .956 fielding percentage while LoForte finished the season with a .968 percentage.
Hank LoForte had a spectacular junior campaign. He ended the season boasting a team-best 45-game on-base streak while collecting at least one hit in 33 of his last 34 games in addition to his current 22-game hit streak. LoForte looks to keep his on-base streaking going during the 2019 season.
The Elk Grove, California native finished the season batting .339 with a .397 on-base percentage and a .445 slugging percentage while recording 35 RBI.
Along with LoForte and Valenzuela returning up the middle the Titans also return both players on the corners in third baseman Brett Borgogno and first baseman Jake Pavletich. Last year as a freshman, Borgogno played in 56 of 61 games and stepped up high pressure situations when Fullerton needed him most, hitting .444 in the Stanford Regional. Pavletich returns as a fifth-year veteran after hitting .282 a season ago while committing only five errors all year.
Daniel Cope returns for his junior season after starting 57 of 61 games last year as the Titans primary catcher while hitting .280 with five home runs and also led the team with 44 RBI.
Daniel Cope was named Big West Field Player of the Week back on March 12th, 2018 for the first time in his career after he batted .400 in three games against No. 2 Oregon State, including blasting a home run scoring two runs and recording an RBI, all while helping to hand the previously undefeated Beavers their first defeat of the season. It snapped what was the longest home win streak in college baseball.
TITANS ADD TOP RANKED RECRUITING CLASS
Fullerton always has a strong recruiting class but this may be the best in recent years as Baseball America has ranked it No. 16 in the country while D1 Baseball ranks it the No. 13th recruiting class in the country. There are 12 freshmen and six JC transfers in this year's class, three of which were drafted by the bigs last June but decided to continue the Titan legacy instead.
Kameron Guangorena highlights the Titan's 13th ranked recruiting class for 2019. The catcher from St. John Bosco High School is ranked as the 32nd overall recruit by D1 Baseball, after turning down the Toronto Blue Jays in the 36th round of last year's MLB Draft to join Cal State Fullerton. Guangorena went 2-for-2 with three walks and a RBI in his first appearance as a Titan against the Alumni on January 26th.
Jason Brandow is another highly touted recruit the Titans added in the offseason. Brandow looks to be an everyday player in right field. The freshman was drafted out of Vintage High School in the 22nd round by the Pittsburgh Pirates but decided to become a Titan and play college baseball.
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