Takeaway Tuesday: USC & San Diego State Series

Another week in the books and the Titan baseball program is flirting with a record setting season… and not in a good way. The Titans are two games under .500 after dropping two of three at home to San Diego State and three of four with Tuesday’s loss to USC.

With an upcoming road trip to Hawaii, many Titans fans are wondering when the miraculous turn around is about to happen to make it into the postseason. A road trip to Hawaii may be the prescription that Dr. Hook needs to dial up. The Titans have a winning record away from Goodwin Field winning six of 11 road games and winning four of six games at neutral sites.

Mitchell Berryhill stolen base
Mitchell Berryhill steals second base against San Diego State on Friday night.
(Photo courtesy of Matt Brown)

Berryhill streaking

Despite the poor W/L record, Mitchell Berryhill is putting together a fantastic senior season.

Berryhill is currently batting .443 and leads the Big West Conference. Berryhill’s prolific batting ranks fourth in the nation. Those with better batting averages include:

1) Alsander Womack – Norfolk St.- .463
2) Nick Gonzales – New Mexico St. – .457
3) Ryan Hampe – Illinois-Chicago – .453

Berryhill extended his on-base streak to 41 games, dating back to the 2018 season. Berryhill went 3-for-4 with with two RBI and one run on Sunday to extend the streak.

Nevin Bunting
Phil Nevin attempts a bunt during the 1992 College World Series. 1992 started the Titans current streak of consecutive postseason appearances.
(Photo by Tom G. Lynn – Time Life Pictures/Getty Images)

Three streaks likely to come to an end in 2019

More than halfway through the 2019 college baseball season and this year’s squad may snap three streaks the Titan faithful have been watching carefully. Since joining the Division 1 ranks in 1975, those streaks are:

  • Every Titan Baseball team has finished with a winning record.
  • Every Titan Baseball team has finished with 30+ wins.
  • The Titans have reached the postseason 27 consecutive seasons dating back to 1992.

Regarding the consecutive postseason appearances streak, Fullerton is currently No. 2 on that list behind Florida State University who has 41 consecutive appearances dating back to 1978. (Miami had held the record at 44 straight seasons but put together a 30-27 record in 2017 and missed the playoffs.) FSU’s consecutive postseason streak is also in jeopardy in Mike Martin’s final year at the helm with a record of 22-13.

Unless the Titans can go on another late-season winning streak, all three of those streaks could easily go by the wayside.

In the middle of the 45th year of Division 1 existence, the Titans have only four seasons when they finished below the .600 winning percentage mark. They are in order of year, overall record, overall winning percentage and head coach:

1985 – 36-32-1 – .529 – Augie Garrido
1989 – 30-27 – .526 – Larry Cochell
2014 – 34-24 – .586 – Rick Vanderhook
2018 – 36-25 – .590 – Rick Vanderhook

NOTE: Titans missed the postseason in 1985 and 1989.

Twice in program history the Titans have finished the conference season with a losing record. They are in order of year, conference record, conference winning percentage and head coach:

1989 – 10-11 – .476 – Larry Cochell
2007 – 10-11 – .476 – George Horton

Sitting at 15-17 heading into the Hawaii series this weekend, the window on a winning season and 30+ win season is closing rapidly. 21 games remain on the schedule. The 2019 Titans can lose six more and still keep the 30 win streak alive. The 2019 Titans can lose nine more games and still keep the winning record above .500 in tact.

Realistically, the Titans can only lose two, maybe three more games to maintain hopes of making a 28th postseason appearance.

The margin of error moving forward is razor thin.

Dillon Brown has given up only one earned run in 16.2 innings pitched and has a 0.54 ERA this season.
(Photo courtesy of Matt Brown)

2019 team ERA above 5

Pitching and defense has been the Titan Baseball calling card for many years. Unfortunately the pitching this season has been below average and is on pace to be the worst in program history.

1985 is the only season where the Titans posted a team ERA higher than five. Digging deeper, the 1985 squad was 19-22-1 before ending the season 36-32-1. The 1985 Titans are just one of four teams to fail to make the postseason.

2019 is pacing to join the 1985 squad for the highest team ERA in the history of the program. The 2019 team ERA currently sits at 5.14 and opponents are batting .277 vs. Titan pitchers in 2019.

The bright spots for the pitchers has come from Dillon Brown and Matthew Sanchez who are the only Titan arms with ERAs lower than three. Brown’s 0.54 ERA leads the team and Sanchez’s 1.50 ERA has come in six innings of relief.

Landon Anderson has the highest ERA (9.20) and has given up 15 earned runs while only striking out 12 batters in 14.2 innings of work.

Kameron Guangorena had his best day batting Saturday night vs. SDSU, going 4-for-4.
(Photo courtesy of Matt Brown)

Guango’s big game

After getting a few weeks behind the plate in place of the injured Daniel Cope, Kameron Guangorena’s bat woke up on Saturday vs. San Diego State.

On Saturday night, Guango batted a perfect 4-for-4 with one walk, one RBI and plated a career-high three runs.

Now that Cope is back from his broken finger he suffered weeks ago while bunting in the James Madison game, Guango looks to get time at DH when facing right handed pitchers.

Sahid valenzuela played third base on Sunday and DH on Friday and Saturday night vs. San Diego State.
(Photo courtesy of Matt Brown)

Infield shuffle

The Titan infield looked a little different this past weekend with notable players either missing or playing a different position than normal.

On Friday and Saturday, Zach Lew was playing third base while Brett Borgogno held down the short stop spot all while Sahid Valenzuela was the designated hitter. It’s the first time in recent memory that Sahid did not pick up a glove and take the field since becoming a Titan in 2017.

On Sunday, Sahid Valenzuela and Brett Borgogno looked as if they chose to switch positions for the day with Sahid at third and Borgogno holding down the No. 6 position. Sahid typically plays short stop and Bogo plays third. Both played those positions all last year.

Nice to see Zach Lew back in the line-up and it appears the coaches were using this non-conference series to help get the infielders a little more comfortable playing positions they do not normally play.

Les Murakami Stadium
Les Murakami Stadium

Looking ahead

The Titans travel to Hawaii this week to take on the Rainbow Warriors for their third conference series on the year.

Due to the Easter Holiday on Sunday, games are moved up an additional day and start on Thursday. Also note that Hawaii is three hours behind California time and the Thursday and Friday night games will start at 9:35 PM for those in California. Saturday’s game starts at 4:05 pm for those in California.

Thu. April 18 @ Hawaii – 9:35 PM
Sat. April 19 @ Hawaii – 9:35 PM
Sun. April 20 @ Hawaii – 4:05 PM

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