Titan coaches dugout vs. UC Davis

Thursday Thoughts: Cal Poly Series

Well, it happened. With zero room for error to avoid a sub-.500, the Titans were swept by visiting Cal Poly to ensure a losing season for the second consecutive year. The three losses to the Mustangs puts the Titans at 19-30 on the year and with six games remaining, the best they can finish is 25-30.

Despite the poor performance against Cal Poly, hopefully the Titans have their sights clearly set on some revenge vs. longtime and historical rival, Long Beach State. Although neither team is playing for a playoff berth, we’re confident both teams want to beat the daylights out of each other because, well, it’s Long Beach vs. the Titans.

Before we get into that, let’s take a look back at the Cal Poly series that included some good, some bad and some very ugly.

The Results

Friday, May 13, 2022 vs. Cal Poly: LOSS – 13-4
Saturday, May 14, 2022 vs. Cal Poly: LOSS – 6-2
Sunday, May 15, 2022 vs. Cal Poly: LOSS – 2-1 (10 innings)

Season to date stats

Overall Record: 19-30
Conference Record: 11-13
Streak: LOST 3
Last 10: 2-8

Offense

Runs Scored: 265
Hits: 479
Doubles: 82
Triples: 14
Home Runs: 29
RBI: 237
Team Batting Avg: .280
On-Base %: .358
Slugging %: .395
Walks: 177
Extra base hits: 125
Total bases: 676
Hit by pitch: 43
Stolen Bases: 31
Strikeouts: 392

Defense

Errors: 53
Fielding %: .971
Double Plays turned: 30
Passed Balls: 6
Stolen Bases allowed: 33

Pitching

Team ERA: 5.47
Batting average against: .278
Hits allowed: 474
Total Runs Allowed: 297
Walks Issued: 202
Strikeouts: 391
Ks per 9 innings: 8.10
Home runs allowed: 33

Titans of the Week

Winners chosen via Twitter poll

Pitcher of the Week

Fynn Chester
Fynn Chester: 4.2IP – 7H – 1ER – 1BB – 1K – 1.93 ERA

Also considered:
Ryan Gil: 1.1IP – 1H – 1ER – 3BB – 2K – 6.75 ERA
Izeah Muniz: 1.1IP – 1H – 1ER – 1BB – 3K – 6.75 ERA
Tyler Stultz: 5.1IP – 7H – 3ER – 0BB – 3K – 5.06 ERA

Batter of the Week

Austin Schell
Austin Schell: 6\11 – .545 – 2R – 0RBI – 2BB – 3K

Also considered:
Caden Connor: 3\11 – .273 – 0R – 1RBI – 1BB – 2K
Zach Lew: 3\8 – .375 – 1R – 1RBI – 1BB – 0K
Nate Nankil: 2\5 – .400 – 2R – 1RBI – 0BB – 1K – 1HR

The Good

NCAA Top Batting Averages

Schell No. 5 in the Nation

It took Austin Schell a while to heat up, but he has not cooled down even when the competition level has increased. As you see in the image above, Schell’s .415 batting average ranks fifth in the nation of Division 1 players with a minimum of 100 at-bats.

It all started on Sunday, April 10th at Michigan when Schell started seeing his plate appearances pick up. Before then, Schell got a few at-bats in either pinch hit roles or in relief of Cole Urman. Dating back to April 3rd vs. Cal State Bakersfield, Schell currently enjoys a 20 game on-base streak. During that streak, Schell has reach base via hit 18 times and walked twice.

In Schell’s last 18 games, he has recorded a multi-hit game 13 times. Five of those games, he recorded three hits in the game.

Maybe Schell’s red-hot bat is the reason why he started behind the plate both Saturday and Sunday despite Cole Urman’s defensive prowess. In those two starts at catcher, Schell responded going a combined 4-for-7 on Saturday and Sunday.

20+ wins still within reach

The Titans record sits at 19-30, just one win away from the round number of 20 wins.

Okay, we get it. Trumpeting a 20-win season is not what Titan Baseball fans want to hear considering all the success the program has enjoyed over the years. But at this moment in time, moral victories and baby steps are all that the fans have. Clearly the Titans will not be going to the post-season nor is a run to Omaha in the immediate future.

What is in the immediate future is a 20+ win season. Just two more wins and the Titans will surpass last year’s win total. It’s not ideal but it is all we have at this moment.

Nate Nankilled that Ball!

Nate Nankil belted his first home run at Goodwin Field, and it was a memorable one. The ball traveled above the left field wall and onto the balcony and appeared to bounce into Head Coach Jason Dietrich‘s office. Dietz’s door was closed, and the ball bounced off the window and rolled on the balcony but it was an impressive shot from the sophomore San Diego native.

With the construction of the new clubhouse and offices, many fans wondered if the windows on the new building could withstand a home run ball. Looks like the glass up there is strong and one would hope that they installed glass that can hold up to a home run ball.

The Bad

Substitute PA announcer

Titan fans all love the regular PA announcer, Dr. Chris Albaugh, who has been announcing at Goodwin Field for years now. When not announcing players at Goodwin Field, Albaugh is a practicing optometrist. Apparently, Dr. Albaugh had a conflict and could not make the Saturday game vs. Cal Poly and a substitute announcer filled in.

We’re not sure where Cal State Fullerton found the substitute PA guy, but he sounds like he was plucked straight out of the strip club. His style was a bit over the top and left many wondering if he was announcing baseball players coming to the plate or calling Diamond to the Main Stage…

If you were not in attendance at Goodwin on Saturday, you can get a taste of his style as Nate Nankil rounds the bases following his home run. Jump to the 0:12 mark and you can hear the PA on the ESPN+ broadcast.

Hopefully, whatever kept Dr. Albaugh from announcing the Saturday Cal Poly game is done and we can look forward to him on the PA for the final three games of the season vs. UC Irvine.

Goodwin Pole
Who’s on First? It’s not just an Abbot and Costello comedy routine, it’s what fans ask all the time because of this stupid pole in the way.

Pole obstructed view

We need to start off with some praise first and say that the live-stream coverage this year well outperforms the live-streams in years past. The multiple camera angles, the center field camera view, and the fact that it is on ESPN+ is a huge upgrade from previous seasons.

But for crying out loud, the poles holding up the backstop netting are just horrible. Sure, the poles do not impede the players performances on the field but is surely impacts the enjoyment of the game by the fans at Goodwin Field and watching on ESPN+.

The above image says it all. Taken as a screenshot during the Saturday game vs. Cal Poly, the pole obscures the runner on first base to the point you can’t tell who is standing there.

Yes, we know this point has been covered in online chats and Titan fan message boards, but it bears bringing up. The cost to replace the poles with a suspension system much like at UC Irvine’s Anteater Park is unknown. We should say, unknown to all of us.

Whatever the cost, it’s worth looking into to possibly starting a fund-raising campaign. We all know fund raising is a top priority for the Titan Athletic Department and Titan Baseball specifically, but many of those funds raised go towards the program general fund and then parsed out into different budgetary departments. If there was a specific fund-raising campaign to get rid of the current poles and replace them with a suspension system, fans would respond to that. Knowing that their donations go towards a specific improvement could go a long way in raising funds.

Much like when George Horton was the head coach, he wanted to replace the outfield wall which, at the time, was plywood and full of rusty nails. He asked the Diamond Club if they could raise the money to replace the outfield wall. They did and the padded wall in the outfield still stands today. Of course, the Diamond Club has been dormant for years and we are not suggesting resurrecting it. But if there was a dedicated fund-raising project to replace the poles, it could surprise everyone how many people might donate to that cause.

The Ugly

For the second year in a row, Cal State Fullerton will post a losing season.
(Photo courtesy of Don Hudson)

Second losing season in Titan History

No matter how you slice it, finishing the season two years in a row with a losing record is ugly. For other programs that are not accustomed to going to the post-season and spending June weeks in Omaha, a losing season is not that big of a deal. But when a program is steeped in that much winning tradition, losing seasons are a rarity and are even harder to swallow.

Don’t expect Athletic Director Jim Donovan to jettison Head Coach Jason Dietrich after his first season. Everyone understands that this program needs a facelift and major changes do not come overnight. Dietrich will need time to recruit “his” type of players and get them into the system. In the meantime, he must work with the players that were already on campus before his arrival in July.

Losing more games than you win always stinks but many fans are not prepared to abandon ship just yet.

Looking Ahead

Long Beach State Dirtbags
Ah yes, the Titans travel to Blair Field to play the Long Beach State Dirtbags or 49ers or Sharks or ‘Go Beach’ or whatever politically correct nickname they have chosen this season. The traditional rivalry between the Titans and the Dirtbags has lost some of its luster over the years since these two teams met in the Super Regionals in 2017. Much of the blame comes from the decline of both programs recently and neither has reached the postseason since the Titans did it in 2018.

Long Beach State’s season started off with a bang, traveling to Starkville, Mississippi and taking two of three games vs. Mississippi State, the defending national champions. That series win looks like fool’s gold now with MSU in jeopardy of not making the SEC tournament and all but eliminated from consideration for a postseason bid. The Long Beach State overall record stands at 24-26 and 12-12 in conference play. Long Beach sits tied for sixth place in the Big West along with UCSD. Whoever wins this series will undoubtedly finish above the other in conference.

Chase Luttrell has returned to the Dirtbags and leads the offense win batting average (.322), OPS (.918), At-bats (202), Runs (32), hits (65), doubles (16), home runs (9), RBI (42) and the list goes on and on. The Dirtbags offense runs through Luttrell and without making any unfair comparisons to Brooks Lee from last week, if the Titans can get Luttrell out, they improve their chances of winning dramatically. Easier said than done, of course.

On the mound, Jack Noble starts on Fridays and has a respectable 3.25 ERA and a 5-4 record. It’s not a surprise that the next best performer is Saturday starter, Juaron Watts-Brown. Watts-Brown sports a 2-4 record on the year and a 4.03 ERA but leads the team in strikeouts with 88 punch outs. Both Noble and Watts-Brown lead the team in home runs allowed, with seven apiece. The closer appears to be Matt Fields with three saves on the year and has recorded 36 strikeouts in nearly 34 innings pitched.

Since the Dirtbags moved their fences in and the games will be a Blair field this weekend, maybe the Titans can flex their offensive muscle and squeak out a series win.

Weekend Probables

Friday, May 20: LHP – Tyler Stultz (4-4, 3.77 ERA) vs. RHP – Jack Noble (5-4, 3.25 ERA)
Saturday, May 21: RHP – Evan Yates (3-2, 5.12 ERA) vs. RHP – Juaron Watts-Brown (2-4 4.03 ERA)
Sunday, May 22: RHP – Fynn Chester (1-1, 2.96 ERA) vs. TBA

Times listed are Pacific time:

May 20, 2022 (Friday) at Long Beach State – 6:00 PM
May 21, 2022 (Saturday) at Long Beach State – 3:00 PM
May 22, 2022 (Sunday) at Long Beach State – 1:00 PM

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