Thursday Thoughts: CSU Bakersfield Series & UCI Mid-Week

With 27 games in the books and 28 games to go, it’s safe to call this is the mid-way point in the 2022 Titan Baseball season. The record stands at 10-17 overall and 5-4 in conference, ranking fourth in the Big West Conference standings.

In order for the Titans to get back to .500, they would have to win their next seven games (three at Michigan, three vs. UC Davis and one vs. USC) through April 19th. That’s just in time to welcome in Dave Serrano and the CSUN Matadors. But the Titans need to get on a hot streak through Tax Day just to get back to even. Easier said than done especially traveling to Michigan this weekend.

This edition of Thursday Thoughts will not only examine the outcome of the Cal State Bakersfield series and the UC Irvine mid-week game, but also a mid-season report card on the individual players and the team as a whole.

The Results

Friday, April 1, 2022 @ CSU Bakersfield: LOSS – 6-7 (11 innings)
Saturday, April 1, 2022 @ CSU Bakersfield: LOSS – 3-5
Sunday, April 1, 2022 @ CSU Bakersfield: WIN – 10-7
Tuesday, April 1, 2022 @ UC Irvine: LOSS – 1-6

Season to date stats

Overall Record: 10-17
Conference Record: 5-4
Streak: LOST 1
Last 10: 6-4

Offense

Runs Scored: 147
Hits: 265
Doubles: 38
Triples: 8
Home Runs: 16
RBI: 128
Team Batting Avg: .277
On-Base %: .356
Slugging %: .384
Walks: 103
Extra base hits: 62
Total bases: 367
Hit by pitch: 20
Stolen Bases: 23
Strikeouts: 225

Defense

Errors: 31
Fielding %: .970
Double Plays turned: 16
Passed Balls: 5
Stolen Bases allowed: 19

Pitching

Team ERA: 5.58
Batting average against: .277
Hits allowed: 264
Total Runs Allowed: 167
Walks Issued: 107
Strikeouts: 228
Ks per 9 innings: 8.48
Home runs allowed: 19

Titans of the Week

Winners chosen via Twitter poll

Pitcher of the Week

Tyler Stultz
Tyler Stultz: 7IP – 7H – 1ER – 1BB – 6K – 1.29 ERA

Also considered:
Fynn Chester: 2.2IP – 1H – 1ER – 1BB – 0K – 3.86 ERA
Peyton Jones: 2.1IP – 5H – 0ER – 1BB – 2K – 0.00 ERA
Michael Weisberg: 3.2IP – 3H – 1ER – 0BB – 4K – 2.45 ERA

Batter of the Week


Jackson Lyon: 8\20 – .400 – 4R – 3RBI – 0BB – 3K – 1 HR

Also considered:
Jason Brandow: 6\14 – .429 – 3R – 2RBI – 0BB – 4K
Zach Lew: 5\13 – .385 – 4R – 2RBI – 5BB – 2K
Cole Urman: 6\15 – .400 – 0R – 1RBI – 0BB – 6K

The Good

Zach Lew 2022 Cal State Fullerton Alumni game
Zach Lew
(Photo courtesy of Don Hudson)

Zach Lew

Offensively, Zach Lew has shown Head Coach Jason Dietrich he can count on him getting on base and supplying a spark for this offense. Lew leads the Titans in almost every hitting statistic including batting average (.347), On-Base Percentage (.444), Hits (34), RBI (19) and tied for team lead in doubles (6) with Jackson Lyon and Nate Nankil.

Lew ranks second in at-bats (98) and walks (16) behind lead-off hitter Caden Connor. Lew currently sits on a 20-game on-base streak and a six game hitting streak. (More on that in the streakers segment.) One knock on Lew looks like his fielding. He has committed four errors in 26 games which is not what you want out of your Third Baseman. Lew’s last error came against Loyola Marymount back on March 13 and has not had an error in the last 12 games played.

Mid-season Grade: A-

Lew will need to remain hot down the second half of the season if the Titans can make some noise to end the year. If he could pump up his power numbers, that grade could jump up beyond the A-.

Tyler Stultz delivery
Tyler Stultz has increased his role from the Saturday Starter to starting on Fridays.
(Photo courtesy of Don Hudson)

Tyler Stultz

You would expect your Friday night guy to be the best arm on the staff. Tyler Stultz’s performance to date has showed he’s the guy to open a weekend series on the mound.

Although the overall season numbers are not eye-popping, Tyler Stultz has shined in the last two Friday starts. He went seven innings on both nights and had a 1.29 ERA both outings. In the past two games he has a 7:1 K:BB ratio.

Mid-season Grade: B+

If Stultz can keep his momentum of the past two weekends going vs. Michigan and the rest of the way through the Big West schedule, The Titans will be formidable on Friday nights. More one run games or even a few shutout innings from Stultz could easily raise that grade to an A.

Brandow Homer tap with Cruz
Jason Brandow (L) i congratulated by JJ Cruz after blasting a three-run home run in the bottom of the fifth inning vs. Pepperdine.
Photo courtesy of Hank Tran

Improved Offense

The team batting average of .277 may not lead the nation (that belongs to Virginia at .336) but it has improved over year’s past. The Titans finished 2021 batting .264 and 2019 batting .289. In 2018, the last year the Titans saw the post-season, they batted .269.

Mid-season Grade: B-

An average of .277 mid-way through the year bodes well but the Titan bats will need to keep hitting if the Titans can expect to win more games. If the Titans can raise that average into the .285 range, their chances of finishing above .500 greatly improve.

Jason Blood Signed
Photo courtesy Titan Athletics Twitter

2 JUCO Johnnies Signed

The Titans welcomed two Junior College players yesterday, RHP Jason Blood and Infielder Ignacio “Nacho” Alvarez. Although these players will finish the season with their respective JCs, they both are expected to contribute next season.

Blood out of Golden West College has a 5-1 record with a 2.19 ERA in 11 appearances this season with nine starts. In 53.1 innings pitched, he has 67 strikeouts with just 19 walks. Recruiting coordinator Josh Belovsky said…

“Jason shows a solid feel to pitch with more upside in his frame. He has proven to be one of the better starters in a tough OEC conference. We expect Jason to come in and contribute on the mound right away.”

Nacho Alvarez Signed

We predict that Alvarez will quickly become a fan favorite because, well, who doesn’t love nachos? Through 29 games this season, Alvarez is hitting .318 with 21 RBI and a team-high 30 runs for Riverside City College. Alvarez has 10 extra base hits on the year and one home run to go along with a .464 on-base percentage and .458 slugging.

For those Titan fans yearning for the days of yore with Titan players being ‘grinders’, Belovsky thinks Alvarez fits that mold.

“Nacho is a solid hitter that has a chance to hit in the middle of our lineup next year. He plays with energy and passion and fits the mold of a Titan baseball player.”

Jack Haley on Base
Jack Haley has reached base safely in 10 straight games. (Photo courtesy of Don Hudson)

Streaker Update

Checking in on the Titans with streaks going, the previously three extended them and a few others have started some mini-streaks of their own.

We alluded to it earlier but Zach Lew currently sits on a 20-game on-base streak and a six game hitting streak. Disregarding the streak, in 26 games played, Lew has failed to reach base safely in one game this season. That came on a 0-for-5 night when Lew struck out three times vs. Gonzaga on February 25th. Although it is not a streak, Lew has reached base safely in 25 of 26 games played this season.

Nate Nankil had a four-game on-base streak heading into Bakersfield and kept the streak alive after leaving Bakersfield but it ended after seven games going 0-for-2 vs. Irvine.

Brendan Bobo entered the weekend with an 11-game on-base streak intact but struggled in Bakersfield. Bobo went 0-for-6 on Friday which included three strikeouts. Saturday and Sunday he mustered hits and walked on Tuesday vs. Irvine to restart a mini on-base streak heading into Michigan this weekend.

Caden Connor took his 11-game hit streak to Bakersfield but it ended on Saturday when after extending it Friday night to 12 games, Connor went 0-for-4 with a strikeout to end the streak.

Cal State Omaha Batter of the Week Jackson Lyon nine game on-base streak extended to 13 games going 8-for-20 in Bakersfield and Irvine. Lyon recorded at least one hit in all four games with multiple hit games coming on Saturday (2-for-4) and Sunday (4-for-6).

Jack Haley‘s on-base streak started on Sunday vs. UC Santa Barbara and extended through the Tuesday game vs. UC Irvine. In that 10-game span, Haley has collected eight games with hits and only two games when he has walked.

It looks as though Cole Urman‘s bat is starting to heat up and has a small hitting streak of his own to add to the list. Urman hit safely in all four games this past week and collected a hit on Sunday vs. UC Riverside. Although the Titans played San Jose State in between the UCR and CSUB series, Urman did not start that game and did not make a plate appearance. Austin Schell got the start behind the plate giving Urman a much needed break. Urman’s hit streak stands at five following a one-hit performance at UC Irvine on Tuesday.

The Bad

Dietz mound visit
Head Coach Jason Dietrich has made frequent calls to the bullpen this season which have resulted in eventually losing games this season.
(Photo courtesy of Don Hudson)

7 Games Below .500

We’re not trying to beat a dead horse here but in looking at the schedule and with the optimism of getting a new head coach and a new coaching staff, being below .500, much less seven games below .500, is not what Titan Baseball fans wanted midway through 2022.

Forget about returning to the post-season or even to 30 wins in a season, (the benchmark for what’s considered a successful college baseball season) the Titans will need to win 18 games in the remaining 28 games in order to finish 28-27 and avoid another losing season. Unfortunately, the Titans cannot play UC Riverside every weekend and the schedule looks formidable down the stretch.

Sticking with Big West Conference opponents, UC Davis looks like a series the Titans could win if not sweep. After UC Davis, the rest of the weekends pose bigger challenges. Cal Poly, UC Irvine, Long Beach State and UC San Diego still remain on the schedule. Hawaii is a tough place to play, and the Titans travel to The Rock this year. Let’s not forget the “homecoming” series with Cal State Northridge with Dave Serrano returning to Goodwin Field and will retire after this season. You don’t think Serrano would like nothing more than to put a hurting on the Titans in their own yard as he rides off into the sunset?

To get above .500 the Titans will need to win two out of three series each weekend which is not easy task. We’d like nothing more than to be proven wrong by the Titans and have them rip off a tremendous win streak down the stretch. But unfortunately, we think Titan fans may need to brace for another below par season.

Mid-season Grade: D-

The Ugly

Timmy Josten warm-up
It appears as thought Timmy Josten has thrown his final pitch for the Titans after deciding to step away from the team. (Photo courtesy of Matt Brown)

Josten, Spears & Wambold Gone

We’re taking a break from pointing out the fielding errors for the past four games to pointing out something else. In glancing at the Titans roster prior to the UC Irvine game to try and guess which bullpen arm would get the mid-week start, we noticed something peculiar. Timothy Josten was strangely missing from the roster. Everything has vanished including any trace of him on the Fullerton Titans website.

In scrolling further, we noticed that pitcher Brayden Spears was also missing from the roster. Although he had only one game appearance for the Titans in 2022 and only recording one out and an ERA of 54.00, his departure makes it two arms now gone out of the bullpen.

Before crafting today’s column, we took one more look at the roster and yet another arm has left. The most recent arm to have left the Titan program includes right hander James Wambold.

Due to relaxed roster sizes due to COVID policy hold overs, NCAA baseball programs could carry a maximum of 40 players, up from the normal, pre-Covid roster limit of 35. The Titans started the spring season with 39 players. Now with the departure of Josten, Wambold, Spears and Jake Harvey due to shoulder surgery, they are down to 35 healthy and available players.

We’d like to give you numbers of each departed pitcher, but their profiles have all been eliminated from the Athletic Department website. Going box score by box score, it appears that Josten’s last pitch as a Titan came in the Sunday start at UC Santa Barbara on March 20th. In that outing, Josten lasted 2.1 innings and gave up six hits, three earned runs, issued two walks and struck out one Gaucho batter.

We reached out to the Cal State Fullerton Sports Information Department inquiring about Josten no longer appearing on the roster. We were told, “He has decided to step away from the team”.

Now a senior, it appears that Josten will not be transferring out of the program due to lack of eligibility. Although his profile is no longer available on the Fullerton website, we were able to dig up some season and career stats for Josten. In this season, Josten appeared in five games, starting three for a total of 9.2 innings pitched. Josten’s ERA finished this season at 8.83 with five walks and seven strikeouts. Opponents batted .426 when Josten was on the mound

in 2021, Josten could be labeled the unluckiest pitcher on the Titans staff with 13 runs scored while he was pitching but only eight of them were earned. If the Titans would commit a defensive error, it appears that Josten was the one they were doing it behind. For his Titan career that started in 2018, Josten finishes with a 3-5 record and a 6.45 ERA.

Although not publicized heavily, Josten’s career at Fullerton was marred with nagging injuries over the years. A back injury in 2020 looked like it would sideline him for the season but the blessing in disguise that is COVID-19, the season was shut down before Josten could try and make a comeback.

As for Wambold and Spears, both could potentially drop into the NCAA Transfer Portal and try to catch on with another college baseball program. Both Michael Knorr and Kyle Luckham have grabbed weekend starting roles at Coastal Carolina and Arizona State respectively. Whether that happens or not, the truth remains, like Josten, they have left the team.

No matter how high or low a player performed while at Cal State Fullerton, they are all still Titans and we wish them all the best in wherever their future takes them. If they continue to play baseball or choose to focus on another chapter in their life, we wish them all the best.

Looking Ahead

Michigan Clark Elliot
Clark Elliot
(Photo courtesy of Michigan Athletics)

The Titans head east to take on the Michigan Wolverines in a non-conference weekend series during their scheduled bye week from Big West Conference play. Before the season started, many looked at this series as a potential RPI booster if the Titans could come away with a series win on the road against a Power 5 opponent. Unfortunately, both teams are struggling in the W/L column as of late and it looks as though this will not be the giant series many hoped it would turn out to be.

Michigan hosts the Titans sporting a 14-14 record and an RPI of 79, down from the 57 it held the previous week. That RPI dip was caused by losing a mid-week contest vs. Purdue Fort Wayne 6-3. The Mastodons were 4-22 heading into Ann Arbor but snuck out with a victory jumping their RPI from 264 to 260. If a 264 RPI team steal a win from Michigan, why not a weekend series. After all, the Titans are ranked 192 in the RPI and gained two spots despite going 1-3 vs. Bakersfield and UCI.

On the mound, sophomore left-hander Connor O’Halloran had a good weekend series vs. Iowa. O’Halloran struck out eight batters while scattering four hits, including two of the infield variety, as he shut down Iowa for seven innings in Michigan’s 2-0 victory.

Offensively, the Wolverines are led by Clark Elliot, hitting .342 and four home runs. The power bat in the Wolverine’s line-up come via the duo of Ted Burton and Tito Flores who both have seven bombs each.

Weekend Probables

Friday, April 8: LHP – Tyler Stultz (2-1, 3.89 ERA) vs. RHP – Cameron Weston (1-2, 5.40 ERA)
Saturday, April 9: RHP – Christian Rodriguez (1-3, 4.19 ERA) vs. LHP – Connor O’Halloran (3-2, 3.35 ERA)
Sunday, April 10: RHP – Evan Yates (2-0, 4.26 ERA) vs. LHP – Jacob Denner (3-3, 6.23 ERA)

Times listed are Pacific time:

April 8, 2022 (Friday) @ Michigan – 1:00 PM
April 9, 2022 (Saturday) @ Michigan – 11:00 AM
April 10, 2022 (Sunday) @ Michigan – 10:00 AM

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