Urman Lew

Thursday Thoughts: Hawai’i & BYU Mid-Week

In the quest for a .500 season, the Titans did not help their cause this past weekend in Hawai’i and on Tuesday vs. BYU. Going 1-for-4 over the past week is not the direction the Titans need to go to finish with a winning season.

Maybe the goal of finishing above .500 might be too lofty for a program undergoing a major rebuild. The reality remains, the 2022 Titans will miss the post-season yet again for the third straight year (2020 season excluded). Unfortunately, that is a new mark for the Titan program that had only missed making a regional four times (1985-86, 1989, 1991) prior to the 2019 season.

UC Santa Barbara has run away with the Big West Conference and appears the likely favorite to get the automatic bid into the post-season by way of winning the conference. Even if the Titans go on an epic run to finish the season and end up in second or third place in the Big West, the Titans RPI (207) is so low that an at-large bid is highly unlikely.

So, with a team sitting at 17-25 and the prospect of a .500 season unlikely, what silver linings can Titan Baseball fans look towards the final month of the season?

– The goal of a 20+ win season is realistic. With 13 games left, the Titans are capable of winning at least three if not more of those games. Yes, the competition will not be easy with UCSD, UCLA, Cal Poly, Long Beach State and UC Irvine on the horizon. Winning three games is not asking a lot.

– Fans can root for individuals to perform down the stretch in hopes they can contribute more in 2023. Thanks to COVID-19, many of the players that would normally graduate or exhaust their eligibility can return to the program. Guys like Jason Brandow, Zach Lew and Jackson Lyon can all return next season despite 2022 being their fourth year in college.

– The Dietrich staff can evaluate in real game situations who should get an invite to return next season. With 10 official National Letter of Intent signees from high school and a few more Junior College transfers already committed, that means hard decisions will need to be made regarding the returners. The increased roster limits will come back to the normal 35 next season now that the pandemic ripple effect has subsided. Those struggling to perform or earn serious playing time this season may need to come to grips they may need to look into the transfer portal in order to play next spring.

Unfortunately, Titan Baseball fans that have become accustomed to the flowering jacaranda trees in the parking lots near Goodwin Field marking the optimism of a post-season run need to come to grips that this is not the year. The season is not over, and the Titans still have four more weekends of baseball to play. Sad to say, but the first 42 games have showed how much of a rebuilding task Jason Dietrich and staff have in front of them.

Let’s take a look at the week that was with the Titans that included some good, some bad and even some ugly.

The Results

Friday, April 29, 2022 @ Hawai’i: WIN – 7-0
Saturday, April 30, 2022 @ Hawai’i: LOSS – 4-5
Sunday, May 1, 2022 @ Hawai’i: LOSS – 3-17
Tuesday, April 3, 2022 vs. BYU: LOSS – 10-5

Season to date stats

Overall Record: 17-25
Conference Record: 10-8
Streak: LOST 3
Last 10: 5-5

Offense

Runs Scored: 222
Hits: 418
Doubles: 75
Triples: 11
Home Runs: 23
RBI: 197
Team Batting Avg: .284
On-Base %: .361
Slugging %: .397
Walks: 151
Extra base hits: 109
Total bases: 584
Hit by pitch: 34
Stolen Bases: 30
Strikeouts: 330

Defense

Errors: 46
Fielding %: .971
Double Plays turned: 27
Passed Balls: 6
Stolen Bases allowed: 28

Pitching

Team ERA: 5.56
Batting average against: .272
Hits allowed: 395
Total Runs Allowed: 253
Walks Issued: 175
Strikeouts: 335
Ks per 9 innings: 8.10
Home runs allowed: 28

Titans of the Week

Winners chosen via Twitter poll

Pitcher of the Week

Tyler Stultz
Tyler Stultz: 7IP – 5H – 0ER – 3BB – 5K – 0.00 ERA (W)

Also considered:
Fynn Chester: 1.2IP – 3H – 0ER – 0BB – 1K – 0.00 ERA
Cameron Repetti: 2IP – 2H – 0ER – 1BB – 4K – 0.00 ERA
Evan Yates: 5.2IP – 5H – 2ER – 2BB – 2K – 1HR – 3.18 ERA

Batter of the Week

Jason Brandow
Jason Brandow: 6\15 – .400 – 3R – 2RBI – 1BB – 2K – 1HR

Also considered:
Caden Connor: 5\19 – .263 – 4R – 3RBI – 3BB – 3K
Austin Schell: 5\11 – .455 – 0R – 2RBI – 3BB – 2K
Cole Urman: 6\16 – .375 – 2R – 2RBI – 0BB – 4K

The Good

20 Consecutive Scoreless Innings

Starting in the fourth inning of the mid-week game vs. USD through the Friday game vs. Hawai’i and until the sixth inning of the Saturday game at Hawai’i, the Titans pitchers combined for 20 scoreless innings. For a unit that has been struggling to get their joint ERA below 5.50, this appeared to be a huge accomplishment.

A round of applause for Josh Howitt, Izeah Muniz, Gavin Meyer, Ryan Gil and Michael Weisberg for holding the USD Toreros scoreless on April 26th. Tyler Stultz and Cameron Repetti combined for the 7-0 shutout on Friday striking out nine en route to the Friday night victory.

Freshman Evan Yates went 5 2/3rds innings in the Saturday game before Stone Miyao deposited a home run over the right field fence to eventually break the scoreless streak.

Nicely done gentlemen. Let’s see if these guys can get on another scoreless streak in the remaining 13 games.

Friday in Hawai’i

We mentioned it in the last segment but the 7-0 shutout on Friday encompassed a complete game effort by the entire Titan team.

On the mound, both Tyler Stultz and Cameron Repetti were masterful. The lines for both guys:

Tyler Stultz: 7IP – 5H – 0ER – 3BB – 5K – 0.00 ERA (W)
Cameron Repetti: 2IP – 2H – 0ER – 1BB – 4K – 0.00 ERA

The arms were not the only ones talking loudly out on the Island. Austin Schell, Jason Brandow and Cole Urman all had multi-hit games.

Jason Brandow: 3\4 – 1R – 0RBI – 1BB – 0K
Austin Schell: 2\5 – 0R – 2RBI – 1BB – 0K
Cole Urman: 2\5 – 1R – 1RBI – 0BB – 0K

Those three Titan batters combined for a .500 batting average on Friday night.

Defensive Urman

We’ve made it abundantly clear even before the season that Cole Urman is a special player behind the plate. His ability to throw out runners is already well known but his impact on the Titans is immeasurable. How do you place a value on runners not trying to steal just because they know Cole Urman can erase them in less than two seconds?

How do you place a value on Urman’s blocking and catching ability that can save potential wild pitches and not result in passed balls? How can you place a value on Urman’s baseball IQ and ability to recognize runners sleeping while on the base paths?

Urman’s pop time (We covered pop time in the Projected 2022 Titan Baseball Roster – Hitters preview), and arm strength are so ridiculous that would be base stealers realize they are dead on arrival before they can even slide.

In the open we discussed the potential of high level performers coming back for the 2023 season. It appears that Cole Urman will probably not be one of them because his likelihood of getting drafted in the 2022 MLB draft is quite high.

Enjoy what Cole Urman brings to the Titans this year. Also, try not to ponder what it could look like if he wasn’t back there throwing guys out and catching the Titans pitchers superbly.

Workhorse Stultz

Tyler Stultz has shown why he has earned the Friday night start and can keep the Titan bullpen arms fresh by going 6+ innings in his last six starts. His last start when he didn’t go at least six innings came in the conference opener at UC Santa Barbara when he lasted 4 2/3rd innings.

Since then, he has gone seven (UC Riverside), seven (Cal State Bakersfield), 7 2/3rds (Michigan), six (UC Davis), 7 1/3rd (CSUN) and seven (Hawai’i) innings. Of those 42 innings pitched, Stultz has surrendered nine earned runs giving him a 1.93 ERA over that span.

The Titans need three more wins to get to 20 wins on the season and with four more Fridays on the docket, Stultz on the mound could make 20 wins on the season a true possibility.

The Bad

Sunday in Hawai’i

We’re not sure if the Titans just ran out of gas on Sunday after winning 7-0 on Friday and losing a close one on Saturday 5-4, but the Titans got killed on Sunday, losing 17-3.

With the exception of Fynn Chester‘s 0.1 innings pitched, six Titans pitchers all gave up at least one earned run on Sunday. Peyton Jones (4), Gavin Meyer (2), Ryan Gil (2), Josh Howitt (2) and Izeah Muniz (3) all gave up multiple earned runs on Sunday.

The Titans bats were not much help and did not keep pace with Hawai’i. Caden Connor, Jackson Lyon, Brendan Bobo and Jason Brandow combined to strand eight Titan base runners. Had all eight of those runners gotten cashed in, the score would not have come close to the two touchdowns plus the field goal the Rainbow Warriors put up. Ouch.

Peyton Jones
It appears Peyton Jones starting on Sundays will come to a close after this past weekend at Hawai’i.
(Photo courtesy of Matt Brown)

New Sunday Starter Likely?

It appears that Peyton Jones will no longer get the ball on Sundays if our speculations are correct. After a dismal outing on Sunday vs. Hawai’i where Jones lasted 1 2/3rd innings, gave up three hits, walked three and struck out none resulting in four earned runs, Jones was brought in relief in Tuesday vs. BYU. His relief appearance in the fifth inning on Tuesday leads us to believe he will not be starting this weekend at UC San Diego.

Jones was propelled into the Sunday starter role last month starting with the UC Irvine series. Evan Yates was the Sunday starter and Christian Rodriguez was starting on Saturdays. An injury to C-Rod that will keep him sidelined for the rest of the season pushed Yates to Saturdays and the Sunday spot opened up. Veteran lefty arm Timmy Josten had already left the team by that time and Jones got the call on Sundays.

In Jones’ five outing audition on Sundays, he has failed to make it to the fifth inning in any of the Sundays vs. UCI, Michigan, UC Davis, CSUN or Hawai’i. The longest start for Jones came vs. Cal State Northridge where he went 4.2 innings, gave up five hits, allowed two walks, struck out one and left the game giving up two earned runs.

The Titans used a number of arms on Tuesday as part of the typical “Johnny All-staff” outing to piece together a mid-week game utilizing bullpen arms. By process of elimination knowing the specific roles each one plays, we’re narrowed it down to a guess of four or five Titan arms that could potentially get the ball to start on Mother’s Day vs. UCSD.

Tyler Stultz and Evan Yates will start on Friday and Saturday and their roles will not change. Samuel Gomez, Josh Howitt, Grant Kelly, Wyatt Johnson and Gavin Meyer all threw on Tuesday vs. BYU leading us to believe they will not be starting Sunday.

Michael Weisberg is the established closer and should not get the start on Sunday.

That leaves Fynn Chester, Cameron Repetti, Ryan Gil, Izeah Muniz and Anthony Joya as the pitchers that did not throw on Tuesday or do not already have an established weekend role.

Fynn Chester has some starting experience, albeit in mid-week games, and he has performed well lately. In relief on Saturday and Sunday at Hawai’i, Chester went a combined 1.2 innings, allowing three hits, no walks, one strike out and most importantly, no earned runs. Chester’s 3.16 ERA on the season is tied with Tyler Stultz for best on the team and makes him a viable candidate to start this Sunday.

Cam Repetti is the dark horse in this prediction in that he started the season as the Friday guy but has been decent as the first guy out of the bullpen in relief of Tyler Stultz. Sure, we touched on Repetti’s propensity to run hot and cold last week, but he could get the ball on Sunday. He last pitched two innings on Friday and hadn’t thrown in relief on Saturday, Sunday or Tuesday.

Ryan Gil, Izeah Muniz and Anthony Joya are long shots in this equation with Gil the most likely based on the fact he has started two games this season. Gil got the start on Friday vs. Pepperdine because Tyler Stultz was ill and Christian Rodriguez and Cameron Repetti were scheduled to start the following days. Gil also started the mid-week game vs. San Jose State but only lasted two innings. Since Gil is still coming back from Tommy John surgery, Jason Dietrich may keep his innings down so as to not have him injure his arm again.

Muniz and Joya, both freshman this season, could get the start but if we were to bet on it, we’d put our chips elsewhere. They both have started one game in 2022, coincidentally vs. USC (Muniz 4/19 and Joya 3/22). Neither of the two freshmen have stellar ERAs with Muniz’s 10.64 in 11 innings slightly better than Joya’s 13.50 in four innings.

The Ugly

Stone Miyao
Stone Miyao
(Photo courtesy of Hawai’i Athletics)

Stone Miyao baseball pants

No matter if you are a baseball purist or from the thinking of “let’s the kids play”, you have to admit that Stone Miyao‘s pants looked more like biker shorts than baseball pants.

Baseball is full of superstition and wearing your uniform a certain way can definitely help a player’s confidence. It very well may be the case with Stone Miyao because he did not wear his pants rolled up that high to start the season. It has been a recent phenomenon, but the results can’t argue with it.

Miyao has hit safely in 15 of 16 games dating back to April 2nd. The one game in that streak he did not get a hit was on Friday vs. the Titans. He did manage to scratch out a walk in that game to make it a 16 game on-base streak. Miyao was batting .125 before his on-base streak started and he has raised it to .262 coming out of the Fullerton series.

Whatever works for you young man. But for those of us baseball purists, it should was ugly to look at either in person or on TV.

Looking Ahead

After a brief stopover at Goodwin Field to host the BYU Cougars, the Titans hit the road again, albeit a short road trip, to UC San Diego. Despite the UCSD Tritons joining the Big West Conference a few years ago, this road trip marks the first time the Titans will play at Triton Ballpark. The Titans would have played at UCSD in 2020 but after the rest of the season was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This trip in 2022 marks the first time the Titans will play there.

UCSD comes into the series on a winning note after beating San Diego State 9-6 on Tuesday. Dubbed the “Trolley Series” between the two San Diego schools, the Tritons took the series three games to one over the Aztecs. UCSD is currently riding a six game win streak after beating SDSU on Tuesday, sweeping UC Riverside at home and winning Saturday and Sunday up in Bakersfield.

UCSD is also struggling in 2022 with a slightly better record than the Titans at 19-23 and 9-9 in conference. The Titans and Tritons have not played many common Big West opponents this season with UCSD getting swept by UC Santa Barbara, winning two of three from CSU Bakersfield and sweeping the previously mentioned UC Riverside.

The Tritons one have one player in the line-up batting above .300, Jalen Smith, batting .322 and leads the Tritons in almost every offensive category including games started (40), at-bats (152), runs (27), hits (49), doubles (12), triples (3), total bases (82), walks (24), stolen bases (4) and on-base percentage (.426). It appears that if the Titans can shut down Jalen Smith, their chances of winning immediately skyrocket. Marc Filia leads the Tritons in home runs (10) but as with most power hitters, is second on the team in strikeouts.

On the mound, UCSD carries a 5.19 team ERA heading into the weekend series, just slightly better than the Titans’ 5.56 team ERA. The strike out leaders are all the weekend starters with Noah Conlon leading the team with 46 punch outs. Opponents bat .318 against Conlon while batters facing Friday starter Ryan Forcucci hit .259 on average.

Weekend Probables

Friday, May 6: LHP – Tyler Stultz (4-2, 3.16 ERA) vs. RHP – Ryan Forcucci (1-4, 4.23 ERA)
Saturday, May 7: RHP – Evan Yates (2-1, 3.90 ERA) vs. RHP – Noah Conlon (3-6, 7.33 ERA)
Sunday, May 8: TBA vs. LHP – Zack Ernisse (3-1, 6.75 ERA)

Times listed are Pacific time:

May 6, 2022 (Friday) @ UCSD – 6:35 PM
May 7, 2022 (Saturday) @ UCSD – 2:00 PM
May 8, 2022 (Sunday) @ UCSD – 1:00 PM

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