The College World Series Finals (Florida will take on LSU) is set and despite not advancing it out of the Stanford Regional, the arrow is definitely pointing up for Titan Baseball.
In a nutshell, two years removed from the worst season in program history, the 2023 Titans outperformed beyond expectations. Many of the “bad records” set in 2021, i.e. first losing season, failing to make the post-season for fourth consecutive season, etc., were reversed in 2023.
- Winning Season: Check
- 30+ wins in a season: Check
- Postseason invitation: Check
- Winning at least one game in the postseason: Check
Considering where the program was to where it stands now, the future is definitely bright and the trajectory is definitely on the upward trend.
Join us as we take an overview look at the Good, the Bad and the Ugly that was Titan Baseball for the 2023 season.
Overall Record: 32-24
Conference Record: 20-10
Streak: Lost 1
Last 10: 4-6
Runs Scored: 345
Home Runs: 37
Team Batting Avg: .277
On-Base %: .373
Slugging %: .406
Extra base hits: 171
Total bases: 793
Hit by pitch: 62
Stolen Bases: 41
Fielding %: .976
Double Plays turned: 48
Passed Balls: 7
Stolen Bases allowed: 25
Team ERA: 5.10
Batting average against: .282
Hits allowed: 561
Total Runs Allowed: 313
Walks Issued: 232
Ks per 9 innings: 8.77
Home runs allowed: 55
Polls and RPI Tracker
D1Baseball: Not Ranked
Baseball America: Not Ranked
Collegiate Baseball: Not Ranked
NCBWA: Not Ranked
College Baseball Nation: Not Ranked
USA Today Coaches Poll: Not Ranked
11.7 Mid-Major Power Rankings: 14
Titans of the Year
Winners chosen via Twitter poll
Pitcher of the Year
Jojo Ingrassia: 44.2IP – 48H – 12E R- 14BB – 51K – 2.42 ERA
Fynn Chester: 57.2IP – 69H – 27ER – 6BB – 42K – 4.21 ERA
Tyler Stultz: 91.1IP – 99H – 52ER – 43BB – 93K – 5.12 ERA
Evan Yates: 74.1IP – 83H – 310ER – 31BB – 69K – 3.75 ERA
Vote on the #CalStateOmaha Pitcher of the Year Nominees*:@FynnChester: 57.2IP- 69H- 27ER- 6BB- 42K- 4.21 ERA@Jojoingrassia35: 44.2IP- 48H- 12ER- 14BB- 51K- 2.42 ERA@Tyler_Stultz5: 91.1IP- 99H- 52ER- 43BB- 93K- 5.12 ERA@evan_yates17: 74.1IP- 83H- 310ER- 31BB- 69K- 3.75 ERA
— Cal State Omaha (@CalStateOmaha) June 21, 2023
Batter of the Year
Caden Connor: 74-for-224 – .330 – 37R – 45RBI – 32BB – 36K – 5HR
Zach Lew: 57-for-209 – .273 – 45R – 47RBI – 44BB – 42K – 7HR
Nate Nankil: 75-for-237 – .316 – 40R – 39RBI – 23BB – 37K – 5HR
Carter White: 63-for-198 – .318 – 42R – 22RBI – 15BB – 17K
Vote on the #CalStateOmaha Batter of the Year Nominees*:@Caden_Connor77: 74/224 -.330 – 37R -45RBI-32BB-36K-5HR@zachlew20: 57/209 -.273 -45R -47RBI-44BB-42K-7HR@nankils619: 75/237 – .316 – 40R – 39RBI – 23BB – 37K – 5HR@carter__white: 63/198 – .318 – 42R – 22RBI – 15BB – 17K
— Cal State Omaha (@CalStateOmaha) June 21, 2023
Arrow Pointing Up
Cal State Fullerton officially named Jason Dietrich the sixth head coach in Titan Baseball history on June 30, 2021. In less than two years, under his and his staff’s direction, the Titans have returned to respectability.
Has the Titan Baseball program returned to its former glory that many college baseball fans have come to know and respect? Absolutely not. But considering the depths of where the program stood just two seasons ago, the program continues to heal and is ahead of schedule.
2021 ended with the Titans winning 20 games, 15 games below .500. That season marked the first losing season in Titan Baseball history. The first losing season assured no postseason, no 30-win season and definitely not a trip to Omaha.
2023 ended with the Titans winning 32 games, eight games above .500, and a trip to the Stanford Regional. Of note, by winning against San Jose State in the loser bracket in the Regionals, the 2023 Titans assured the streak of winning at least one game in the postseason remained alive.
Everyone knew the path back to excellence would not be easy nor fast. In today’s day and age of the transfer portal and NIL contracts paying college kids exorbitant amounts of money that would make the mid-1980’s SMU football program blush, the rebuild has been remarkably fast.
With Dietrich and Company’s second complete recruiting class expected to hit campus in the fall, a class front loaded with talented arms, the future is bright on the intersection of Associated and Yorba Linda Blvd.
Based on the nominees for the Batter and Pitcher of the year nominees, the seniors performed well in their final go around as Titans. Three of the four batter nominees, (Connor, Lew and White) and two of the four pitcher nominees, (Chester and Stultz) all will need to be replaced next season.
Zach Lew entered 2023 in jeopardy of never going to the postseason for his five-year career on campus. As a freshman, Lew and the 2019 Titans missed the playoffs for the first time in 27 years. Covid-19 ruined the 2020 season and the 2021 and 2022 seasons saw the Titans fail to make the postseason.
2023 smiled on Lew and the Titans advanced to the Stanford Regional. Long time Titans like Connor, Cole Urman, Nate Nankil, Peyton Jones and Lew experienced the postseason for the first time in college; vindication and a reward for their loyalty and perseverance.
Big Moments Seemed Too Big Within the Moment
It may not come as a surprise that the moment the Titans broke into the Top 25 polls, the eight-game losing streak started. The team had performed so far above expectations until that point that once the polls ranked them, it appeared the players tightened under the pressure.
It’s one thing to go out and play loose when everyone has zero expectations. It’s another when pundits and experts start talking about you as a major contender. Coming into the season, many fans held the opinion that if the Titans could get to .500 or better, the season would be a success. Nobody predicted a national ranking and a postseason berth.
Following the Cal State Northridge series and entering the TCU series, the pundits ranked the Titans barely in the Top 25. Maybe the Titans started buying into the idea they were better than they really were or just tightened up and stopped playing loose now that they entered the spotlight.
And it was not just the team as a whole that seemed to tighten up in big moments. Individual players tended to tighten in big moments. Earlier in the season, the Titans could muster a clutch hit with two outs to extend the inning. Once the ranking came out, the two-out hitting stopped.
We won’t name names but how many times can you recall the Titans having the bases loaded and stranding all three due to a strike out or a weak ground ball to kill any chance of cashing in those runners? We won’t dig through the box scores and count the exact number but trust us, it happened quite a bit.
Nothing Glaring Sticks out
We dug through previous Thursday Thoughts columns to try and dig up something. We struggled to find something ugly that encompassed the entire season.
Outside of individual ugliness like the Texas series Sunday dust up or the constant rain cancellations, not much stands out as ugly as a whole.
After suffering through the COVID-19 canceled season and the 2021 debacle, it’s nice not to find anything ugly.
The future continues to get brighter with Jason Dietrich at the helm guiding the program back to respectability. A few times fans would exclaim, “the Titans are back, Baby!” but back to what?
Considering Titan Baseball has advanced to Omaha 18 times and won it all four times, back, all the way in our opinion, entails getting back to Omaha. That is the goal of every college baseball team and especially the expectation of those that have worn and continue to wear the Titan uniform.
As for us here at Cal State Omaha, stay tuned for a column chronicling which Titans are playing summer ball and a follow up in August as to how they did individually. We also will look to schedule a sit-down interview with Titan Head Coach Jason Dietrich for the 1544 Miles to Omaha Podcast to gain perspective on his take on the 2023 season and what is in store for 2024. We also hope to speak with either Coach Dietrich or one of the assistants after the MLB Draft to gain perspective on which recruits will come to campus and what to expect from them while wearing the blue and orange.
It may only show June on the calendar right now but fall is coming. With it comes fall ball exhibitions and new hope that in 2024, the Titans will not just be back to respectability but all the way back… back home in Omaha for a 19th time.