Titan Baseball keeps rolling along in 2023, progressing ahead of schedule in the rebuilding phase for the proud and tradition rich college baseball blue blood program.
Sitting at 24-12 with 17 games in the regular season to go, the Titans have already won two more games than in 2022, Jason Dietrich’s first year as the head coach. With 17 games left, the prospect of a 30 win season, the benchmark in college baseball for a good season, appears very much attainable.
The Titans enjoyed another good week that saw a conference sweep, a legendary head coach’s number retired, and an alumnus make his Major League Baseball debut.
Join us as we look at the Good, the Bad and the Ugly that was Titan Baseball this past week against Cal State Bakersfield and the mid-week games at Arizona State and preview the weekend series at Cal State Northridge.
Friday, April 21, 2023 vs. CSU Bakersfield: WIN – 6-8
Saturday, April 22, 2023 vs. CSU Bakersfield: WIN – 5-10
Sunday, April 23, 2023 vs. CSU Bakersfield: WIN – 2-5
Tuesday, April 25, 2023 at Arizona State: LOSS – 1-9
Tuesday, April 26, 2023 at Arizona State: WIN – 11-8
Season to date stats
Overall Record: 24-12
Conference Record: 15-3
Streak: Won 1
Last 10: 8-2
Runs Scored: 247
Home Runs: 22
Team Batting Avg: .288
On-Base %: .388
Slugging %: .417
Extra base hits: 115
Total bases: 530
Hit by pitch: 47
Stolen Bases: 33
Fielding %: .973
Double Plays turned: 26
Passed Balls: 5
Stolen Bases allowed: 16
Team ERA: 4.82
Batting average against: .280
Hits allowed: 362
Total Runs Allowed: 199
Walks Issued: 152
Ks per 9 innings: 9.19
Home runs allowed: 30
Polls and RPI Tracker
Titans of the Week
Winners chosen via Twitter poll
Pitcher of the Week
Jojo Ingrassia: 5.2IP – 6H – 0ER – 3BB – 5K – 0.00 ERA – 1W – 1S
Peyton Jones: 4.2IP – 2H – 1ER – 5BB – 4K – 1.93 ERA – 1W
(It’s a 2 horse race & shortened voting period this week)#TusksUp
— Cal State Omaha (@CalStateOmaha) April 27, 2023
Batter of the Week
Nate Nankil: 11-for-24 – .460 – 6R – 4RBI – 0BB – 2K
Caden Connor: 7-for-20 – .350 – 2R – 2RBI – 1BB – 1K – 1HR
Moises Guzman: 6-for-17 – .350 – 6R – 4RBI – 7BB – 5K
Colby Wallace: 4-for-10 – .400 – 1R – 3RBI – 0BB – 3K – 1HR
Vote on this week’s #CalStateOmaha Batter of the Week Nominees*:@Caden_Connor77: 7/20 – .350 – 2R – 2RBI – 1BB – 1K – 1HR@Moi_3131: 6/17 – .350 – 6R – 4RBI – 7BB – 5K@nankils619: 11/24 – .460 – 6R – 4RBI – 0BB – 2K
Colby Wallace: 4/10 – .400 – 1R – 3RBI – 0BB – 3K – 1HR
— Cal State Omaha (@CalStateOmaha) April 27, 2023
Eighth Series Win & Third Series Sweep
When was the last time the 2023 Titans did not win at least two of three games on the weekend? The cold and dreary Michigan series that turned into a double header on February 26th. Since then, the Titans have won every weekend series in the months of March and April so far.
The Titans record in March came in at 11-4 and in April, they matched it at 11-4. 22-8 in March and April with the Cal State Northridge series to round out the month. Opening with a sweep at UC Riverside, the Titans went on a seven-game winning streak with three over the Highlanders, a win over Loyola Marymount and then the sweep over CSU Bakersfield.
King George Gets his No. 8 Retired
Legendary head coach George Horton was honored on Friday in a pregame ceremony that saw his iconic No. 8 jersey retired. Surrounded by immediate family and extended family that included many former players and fellow coaches, Horton’s No. 8 joined Augie Garrido (16) and Bob Caffrey (14) as the third number retired in Titan Baseball history.
Horton, a Titan player, assistant coach and then the head coach that took over the program after Garrido’s departure to Texas in 1997, is best known for winning the 2004 national championship at the helm.
In his 11 years as the Titans Baseball head coach, he compiled a 490-212-1 (.698) overall record and 198-69 (.742) record in conference. A member of the Cal State Fullerton Athletics Hall of Fame (2017), Horton led the Titans to the postseason all 11 season while the head man including seven conference titles, six trips to Omaha and the program’s fourth national championship.
We would encourage you to listen to episode 77 of the 1544 Miles to Omaha Podcast for more insight and reflection from coach Horton, recorded prior to the induction ceremony.
Latta & Ingrassia not injured
In last week’s Thursday Thoughts, both Maddox Latta and Jojo Ingrassia appeared to have sustained injuries during the UC Riverside series. Latta did not play in the UCR Saturday and Sunday games with what appeared to be a back injury. Ingrassia was lifted on Sunday after head coach Jason Dietrich saw something in his mechanics that caused concern and Ingrassia was replaced by Trevor Hinkle.
The good news coming out of the CSU Bakersfield and ASU games is that both Latta’s absence and Ingrassia’s early exit were not long lasting.
Latta missed the final two Riverside games and the Loyola Marymount game with back spasms but returned to the starting line-up on Friday vs. Bakersfield. Ingrassia did not pitch vs. LMU but with the Titans winning 11-2, was not needed in relief.
Ingrassia returned to the mound on Saturday vs. CSUB, tossing 2 2/3rds innings, surrendering three hits, no runs, one walk and striking out five. Ingrassia apparently experienced some tightness in his back at Riverside and that is why Deetz chose to lift him.
Coming out of the ASU mid-week series, it appears that all of the Titans are injury free outside of the normal bumps and bruises accumulated after 36 games.
Done with RPI Anchors
After sweeping the Big West “RPI Anchors”, those teams that can still harm a team’s RPI despite winning against them, the Titans are now done with that portion of the schedule. Going a perfect 9-0 vs. UC Davis (RPI 207), UC Riverside (RPI 259) and Cal State Bakersfield (RPI 244), the Titans can improve their own RPI by just playing better competition.
The Ratings Power Index (RPI) is a funny thing when it comes to predicting rankings and teams headed to the postseason. Factoring in strength of schedule, home, road and neutral site wins and losses along with success vs. teams in relation to their RPI, the numbers can fluctuate from week to week and even day by day.
The Case for Curious Cancellations
The confusing part of the RPI remains that a team can beat a lower RPI team and still see their RPI plummet. That is why in this portion of the season, you see a lot of high RPI teams canceling mid-week, non-conference games for strange reasons (typically convenient weather-related cancellations or budget constraints).
Why would a team like Wake Forest (RPI 3) keep Appalachian State (RPI 102) on their schedule this past Wednesday? Even a win over the Mountaineers would drag down their RPI and potentially hurt their chances at gaining a national seed in the postseason. Strangely enough, due to “unplayable field conditions” the game was canceled.
Due to unplayable field conditions in Shelby, today’s game between Wake Forest and App State has been canceled. pic.twitter.com/AG9b2AMNmF
— Wake Forest Baseball (@WakeBaseball) April 26, 2023
It’s so weird that the following day’s game vs. Coastal Carolina with an RPI of 7 was able to be played the following day. Wake Forest has the luxury of canceling a non-conference, mid-week game because it is not necessary to play the game. Conference games are a different story. Member programs cannot just cancel a conference game because the opponents RPI can weigh them down.
Unfortunately, the Big West is not the SEC or ACC and contains those three aforementioned RPI anchors. The good news is that Cal State Fullerton has played all three and came out unscathed. Could you imagine if the Titans lost even one of those games what a blow it would be to their RPI?
Anchors on the Horizon for Others
In looking at the Big West members that have higher RPIs than the Titans, in particular UC Santa Barbara (26) and UC Irvine (45), they still have those RPI anchor teams left on their schedule. Despite the Titans beating the Gauchos and Anteaters two-out-of-three this season, their RPI remains higher. But just you wait.
UCSB still has UC Davis and UC Riverside to go, and they play them the next two weekends. Even if they sweep, expect UCSB’s RPI to fall just as the Titans’ did. Expect the same with UC Irvine and the prospects are even worse for the Anteaters.
UCI has yet to play any of the Big West RPI anchors and they open this weekend’s series up at Cal State Bakersfield on Friday. They end the last two weekends of the season at UC Davis and then a home finale weekend vs. UC Riverside.
Although it is fun to look at the RPI from day to day, we would compare it to checking your 401(k) or stock portfolio daily. Investing, much like with college baseball, RPI watching can be a maddening process if you do it daily. If you take the approach that it is a marathon and not a sprint, you’ll be much happier.
Hollywood and Bobo boo boos
Both Brendan Bobo and Jack Haley have racked up double digit hit-by-pitch stats thus far in the season. Hollywood and Bobo have a combined 24 plate appearances when they have taken a pitch somewhere on their body.
By getting hit a combined 24 times, those two Titans outpace the rest of the team that has been hit a combined 23 times. The next closest Titan to have gotten hit by a pitch is outfielder Moises Guzman with six.
Bobo’s 13 HBP holds the slight advantage over Haley’s 11 despite playing in one less game. Bobo has played in 29 games with 129 plate appearances compared to Haley’s 30 games and 123 plate appearances. Bobo ranks second in the Big West in HBP, trailing UC Irvine’s Will Bermudez by two while Haley ranks tied for fifth with Cal State Northridge’s Jakob Simmons.
We would suggest that some company sign both these guys to an NIL deal for reducing swelling or pain management. They both have worn enough pitches to justify it.
— Titans Baseball (@FullertonBSB) April 27, 2023
Speaking of RPI, despite splitting the mid-week games in Tempe vs. Arizona State, the Titans improved their RPI from 52 to 49 this time last week.
Although the Tuesday game did not go as planned and the Titans lost 9-1, the 11-8 extra inning win on Wednesday helped. We did not check the RPI after Tuesday and then again after Wednesday to see how much RPI value the most recent win held. (Again, it’s a marathon and not a sprint.)
Had you polled Titans fans heading into the mid-week games at ASU, the prospect of going 1-1 was quite appealing to most Titan fans.
Although this bit of news was not a direct result of the current Titans squad performances vs. CSUB and ASU, it is still noteworthy to include here.
Right-handed pitcher Tanner Bibee who played for the Titans from 2018-2021, made his Major League debut on Wednesday, starting for the Cleveland Guardians vs. the Colorado Rockies. Bibee was superb in his MLB debut, going 5.2 innings, allowing six hits, one run, walking none and striking out eight.
Tanner Bibee playing for the Guardians makes him the 72nd Titan Baseball alumnus to make it to the Major Leagues. We encourage you to visit the Complete List of Cal State Fullerton Titans in the Major Leagues to see all 72 former Titans that have made it to The Show.
Let’s check in on the streaks heading into this past weekend’s series and see how those players fared:
- Cole Urman entered the CSU Bakersfield series on an eight-game hitting streak. He extended it to 10 after Friday and Saturday but it ended on Sunday with Urman going 0-for-4 with one strikeout on the day.
- Caden Connor currently holds a six-game hitting streak and a 12-game on-base streak. The hitting streak started vs. LMU while the on-base streak started on the Friday game vs. UC Santa Barbara
- Moises Guzman is a walking machine lately, having received 14 free passes in eight straight games. Guzman’s walk-a-thon started on Saturday vs. UC Riverside and translates into an eight-game on-base streak.
Six Hour Bus Rides
The six-hour bus ride. That’s all we could hear about after the 9-1 loss on Tuesday to Arizona State.
Whether it was talking to fans post game at Phoenix Municipal Stadium or on the message boards or pre-game tailgating prior to the Wednesday game, apparently the long bus ride from Orange County was the culprit for the Tuesday loss.
DEUCES ✌️@Luke_Hill22 with a three-run shot to open this thing up a bit.
7-1, Devils. pic.twitter.com/oPrheTZ1M6
— Sun Devil Baseball (@ASU_Baseball) April 26, 2023
It’s hard to argue with placing the blame on the bus ride because after a good night’s sleep the Titans came out and took care of the Sun Devils 11-8 in 11 innings on Wednesday.
Looking ahead on the schedule, the Titans should only have a two-hour bus ride up to Northridge prior to Friday’s game and depending on budget, will probably stay in the San Fernando Valley this weekend.
The weekend in Fort Worth, Texas when the Titans visit TCU will require a plane flight that most likely will happen on Thursday prior to the series opener. The only other long ride that could get blamed for a flat performance could come at the end of May when the Titans travel up to Cal Poly.
That trip, an estimated five hour drive up to San Luis Obispo, could prove tiring on the Friday of the final weekend before selection Monday.
Wednesday 4th Inning
Wait!?! Didn’t the Titans win on Wednesday? How can this be ugly?
Entering the bottom of the 4th inning, the Titans led 5-3. Since Wednesday was shaping up to be an all-bullpen day, freshman Jack Meek saw his first action of the season, relieving Andrew Morones. Meek allowed a lead-off walk, induced a fly out and then issued another walk. Jason Dietrich had seen enough and chose to lift Meek in favor of veteran Seth Tomczak.
Inheriting runners at first and second, Tomczak got Luke Keaschall to ground to the short stop for what appeared to be a routine double play. JT Navyac seeing his first action since the LMU game, booted the ball attempting to turn the double play. Had the double play been converted, the Titans would have gotten out of the inning still leading 5-3 headed to the top of the fifth.
You already know three-run leads were easy mode for us 😏
— Sun Devil Baseball (@ASU_Baseball) April 26, 2023
Instead, with bases loaded and one out, Jacob Tobias dropped a grand slam and made the game 7-5 with one swing of the bat. Tomczak and the Titans would get out of the inning without any further damage.
The Sun Devils and Titans would end up going to extra innings, but the failed double play extended the inning and ultimately the game unnecessarily. On a mid-week series where limiting pitches on the bullpen arms came at a premium, this goes down in the ugly column despite the end result coming out a victory.
The Titans hit the road this weekend, heading north to Northridge for a three game Big West Conference series. The Cal State Northridge Matadors currently share second place in the Big West standings with UC Santa Barbara. CSUN currently sits at 67 in the RPI.
As with most southern California teams, CSUN was not immune to the rain that plagued and played havoc with early season schedules. With a 24-11 overall record and a 10-5 conference record, the Matadors look to make headway in Eddie Cornejo’s first year as head coach after taking over for the retired Dave Serrano.
In a series that dates back to 1966, Cal State Fullerton leads CSUN 80-56 all-time. The Matadors took their first series from the Titans in 20 seasons in 2022, when CSUN won two of three at Goodwin Field. CSUN’s series win was just its third over the Titans since joining the Division I ranks.
CSUN is seeking its first-ever home series win against Cal State Fullerton (three or four games). The Titans have claimed all 10 three-games series at Matador Field since the Matadors joined The Big West while the teams split a four-game series in 2021.
At the Plate
CSUN remains the Big West leader in batting average at a .313 clip while the Matadors also lead in runs (275), RBI (256), sacrifice hits (26), stolen bases (55) and fielding percentage (.977). Nationally, the Matadors rank 19th in Division I baseball in batting average and 27th in sacrifice hits.
Individually, Jakob Simons tops the Big West in on-base percentage (.477) and stolen bases (10) while he ranks second in runs scored (36), slugging percentage (.730) and home runs (11) and third in batting average (.373) and RBI (38). Ali Camarillo checks in sixth in the conference in batting (.345), eighth in slugging percentage (.555) and 10th in RBI (31). Kevin Fitzer is also in the Big West’s top-10 in RBI with his 34 the season, which ranks in sixth place.
On the Bump
On the pitching side, Friday starter Lucas Braun ranks second in the conference in innings pitched (59.2) and third in strikeouts (69). Projected Saturday starter Thomas Bainton comes in second in the league in wins with five and sixth in innings pitched at 55.1.
Joshua Romero earned his Big West-leading ninth save of the season on Tuesday at the University of San Diego. Romero is tied for sixth nationally in saves, with four others also recording nine saves on the season.
The Cal State Northridge series will all be played during daylight hours due to Matador Field not having lights. With the temperatures projected in the high 80’s to low 90’s on Friday and Saturday and the low 80’s on Sunday in Northridge, the Titan pitchers better make sure they keep the ball down to avoid balls leaving the yard. (Keep in mind that Scott Hurst’s four homer game came at Cal State Northridge.)
The Matadors lead the Big West in batting average (.313) and runs scored (275) and rank third in the conference in home runs (35). By comparison, Cal State Fullerton ranks second in batting average (.288), fourth in runs scored (.288) but ninth in home runs (22) in the conference.
This series will help sort out the Big West standings and if the Titans can win the series and take two games in Northridge, it will go a long way towards getting an automatic bid to the post season.
Friday, April 28: LHP – Tyler Stultz (5-2, 4.42 ERA) vs. RHP – Lucas Braun (3-4, 4.68 ERA)
Saturday, April 29: RHP – Fynn Chester (6-0, 2.49 ERA) vs. TBA
Sunday, April 30: RHP – Evan Yates (1-0, 3.38 ERA) vs. TBA
Times listed are Pacific time:
April 28, 2023 (Friday) at Cal State Northridge – 3:00 PM
April 29, 2023 (Saturday) at Cal State Northridge – 2:00 PM
April 30, 2023 (Sunday)