It all comes down to this weekend up at San Luis Obispo. The eight-game losing streak spanning from May 6-20 did not do the Titans any favors regarding getting back to the post-season. Unfortunately, the Titans do not control their own destiny when it comes to getting a post-season bid.
We’ll touch on the clinching scenarios later in the column but for now, the Titans still hold onto hope they could return to the NCAA post-season for the first time since advancing to the Super Regionals in 2018.
Join us as we look at the Good, the Bad and the Ugly that was Titan Baseball this past week vs. Long Beach State and preview the weekend series at Cal Poly.
(First score listed is visiting team score, second number is the home team’s score)
Friday, May 19, 2023 vs. Long Beach State: LOSS – 2-1
Saturday, May 20, 2023 vs. Long Beach State: LOSS – 7-4
Sunday, May 21, 2023 vs. Long Beach State: WIN – 1-9
Season to date stats
Overall Record: 29-21
Conference Record: 18-9
Streak: Won 1
Last 10: 2-8
Runs Scored: 304
Home Runs: 32
Team Batting Avg: .271
On-Base %: .371
Slugging %: .396
Extra base hits: 146
Total bases: 684
Hit by pitch: 54
Stolen Bases: 35
Fielding %: .976
Double Plays turned: 43
Passed Balls: 7
Stolen Bases allowed: 23
Team ERA: 5.03
Batting average against: .283
Hits allowed: 504
Total Runs Allowed: 277
Walks Issued: 207
Ks per 9 innings: 8.84
Home runs allowed: 45
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 Week
Winners chosen via Twitter poll
Pitcher of the Week
Evan Yates: 7IP – 5H – 1ER – 2BB – 7K – 1.29 ERA – 1 W
Peyton Jones: 5IP – 6H – 2ER – 1BB – 4K – 3.60 ERA
Tyler Stultz: 7IP – 7H – 1ER – 2BB – 10K – 1.29 ERA
Seth Tomczak: 3IP – 4H – 1ER – 0BB – 2K – 3.00 ERA
Vote on this week’s #CalStateOmaha Pitcher of the Week Nominees*:@peytonjonesy: 5IP – 6H – 2ER – 1BB – 4K – 3.60 ERA@Tyler_Stultz5: 7IP – 7H – 1ER – 2BB – 10K – 1.29 ERA@SethTomczak: 3IP – 4H – 1ER – 0BB – 2K – 3.00 ERA@evan_yates17: 7IP – 5H – 1ER – 2BB – 7K – 1.29 ERA – 1 W
— Cal State Omaha (@CalStateOmaha) May 22, 2023
Batter of the Week
Caden Connor: 5-for-9 – .560 – 4R – 2RBI – 2BB – 2K – 1HR
Brendan Bobo: 6-for-11 – .550 – 0R – 3RBI – 0BB – 3K
Zach Lew: 5-for-11 – .450 – 6R – 1RBI – 4BB – 1K – 1HR
Vote on this week’s #CalStateOmaha Batter of the Week Nominees*:@brendan_bobo: 6/11 – .550 – 0R – 3RBI – 0BB – 3K@Caden_Connor77: 5/9 – .560 – 4R – 2RBI – 2BB – 2K – 1HR@zachlew20: 5/11 – .450 – 6R – 1RBI – 4BB – 1K – 1HR#TusksUp #CalStateOmaha
— Cal State Omaha (@CalStateOmaha) May 22, 2023
Ding Dong, Losing Streak Gone!
The eight-game losing streak died an uneventful death on Sunday after the Titans defeated the Long Beach State Dirtbags 9-1. Despite salvaging a win in the weekend series with undoubtedly the Titans biggest rival, the emotion from the players on the field was more of relief than celebration.
Entering the weekend series vs. TCU (before the losing streak started), the Titans were ranked 24 by D1Baseball and held an RPI of 41-42 depending on where you looked. Coming out of the streak, the Titans have fallen out of every poll and now hover at a 65 RPI.
The eight-game losing streak tied the two previous longest losing streaks in program history which both came during the 2021 season.
The streak is dead and that is a good thing.
Eight Titans participated in Senior Day on Sunday prior to the Long Beach State game. Those honored included Fynn Chester, Carter White, Peyton Jones, Cole Urman, Trevor Hinkle, Josh Howitt, Tyler Stultz and Caden Connor.
Connor, Urman and Jones have spent four years at Cal State Fullerton and still have an additional year of NCAA eligibility due to the COVID-19 shortened season in 2020. Should they choose to not go pro or transfer, they could come back to Fullerton should they choose to do so.
The transfers of Chester, Stultz, White, Howitt and Hinkle may or may not have eligibility left depending on how the NCAA views their time at other colleges. Junior College transfers received their 2020 years back and their 2021 seasons. It all just depends on where they were during the COVID-19 pandemic and if they have red shirted and at what times in their college career it happened.
No matter if any of the seniors choose to return or have exhausted their eligibility, we thank them for their time while wearing the Titan blue and orange.
Zach Lew Goodwin Goodbye in Style
Zach Lew participated in Senior Day last season but chose to return for his fifth year at Cal State Fullerton. He went out in style hitting a home run in one of his last at-bats at Goodwin Field.
— Titans Baseball (@FullertonBSB) May 21, 2023
Lew started his career as a Titan in 2019 and has logged over 680 at-bats and recorded over 200 (205) hits in his career. Entering the Cal Poly series, Lew has averaged .301 and driven in 108 runs for his career as a Titan.
Another senior had himself a nice weekend, this time it was Cole Urman behind the dish and at the plate. Urman batted 3-for-11 (.270) with 3 RBI. More importantly, Urman showcased his defensive prowess once again.
— Titans Baseball (@FullertonBSB) May 21, 2023
You can bet Dirtbag Nick Marinconz is happy Urman will likely leave to go pro after this season. Urman picked Marinconz off twice this weekend, on Saturday and again on Sunday.
Despite their best efforts, the Dirtbags were unable to swipe a bag against the Titans this past weekend.
Good Stultz Showed Up Friday
We touched on it in last week’s Thursday Thoughts, but Tyler Stultz tends to have a quality outing one week and then falls apart the next. This past Friday vs. Long Beach State, fans were treated to the Good Mr. Stultz.
Stultz in his final game at Goodwin Field, put up excellent numbers:
7 Innings – 7 Hits – 1 Earned run – 2 Walks – 10 Ks – 1.29 ERA
Fans can only hope that the good Stultz will make one more appearance in the regular season on Thursday vs. Cal Poly.
Let’s check in on the streaks heading into this past weekend’s series and see how those players fared:
- Moises Guzman started the Long Beach State series sitting on a 19-game on-base streak. Recording two hits on Friday and another one on Saturday extended it to 21 games. Although Guzman did not record a hit on Sunday going 0-for-3, Guzman did walk once to extend his on-base streak to 21 games.
Fynn Chester Injury
On Saturday, Fynn Chester was lifted in the top of the second inning after facing two batters who reached on a single (Rocco Peppi) and a walk (Cole Santander). A mound visit from Jason Dietrich along with a member of the Cal State Fullerton Athletic Training staff resulted in Chester getting lifted in favor of Peyton Jones.
Before leaving the mound, Chester was seen hugging his infielders and catcher, indicating he may have injured something, and he had thrown his last pitch in a Titan uniform. Upon reaching the dugout, Chester was visibly upset and was seen crying. The tears may have been more from frustration rather than pain from the injury.
The fact that both Cal Poly and Cal State Fullerton released game notes with Game Two’s start (Chester’s normal start day) as TBA, indicates Chester’s removal was more than precautionary. Since Chester is a senior and depending on the severity of the injury, he could have pitched his last game ever.
We hope that is not the case and he is able to pursue baseball further if he chooses.
8 Game Losing streak
We touched on it earlier but an eight-game losing streak qualifies in the bad category. During that stretch the Titans batted a collective .216. Add to it, the Titans scored four runs or less in all eight games and scored only one or two runs in five of the eight losses.
Thankfully the bats woke up on Sunday vs. Long Beach State, igniting for nine runs on 13 hits. The losing streak has left the Titans in a predicament, which leads us to our next point…
Need Help to Get Back to Regionals
Entering the UCSD series, the Titans held a Magic Number of seven and exited the weekend with a Magic Number of five. Despite getting swept by the Tritons, UC Santa Barbara lost two games vs. Long Beach State to essentially help the Titans.
UCSB winning their series vs. Cal Poly and the Titans losing their series with Long Beach, essentially rendered their respective Magic Numbers to three. Add in that UCSD, in their final year transitioning from Division 2 to Division 1, swept UC Riverside. Why does a team ineligible for the NCAA postseason complicate things by sweeping the cellar dwelling Highlanders?
The UCSD Problem
By UCSD sweeping UCR and completing their Big West Conference schedule at 21-9, they assured themselves at least a share of the Big West Conference title. Both Cal State Fullerton and UCSB sit at 18-9 heading into their final weekend series. Fullerton plays at Cal Poly while Santa Barbara plays at Hawai’i.
If both the Titans and Gauchos sweep their respective series, UCSD, CSUF and UCSB will all finish with the same 21-9 conference record. This creates a three-way tie for first place and introduces us all to the Big West’s tiebreaker formula.
The Big West may or may not crown all three as co-champions and allow all three to lay claim to the title but the people in Santa Barbara and Fullerton are more concerned over who gets the automatic bid from the NCAA into the postseason.
The way the tie will be broken between the three teams, the head-to-head record between the three of them will be compared to each other. Here are the resumes:
- UCSB: 4-2 (3-0 vs UCSD, 1-2 vs. CSUF)
- UCSD: 3-3 (3-0 vs. CSUF, 0-3 vs. UCSB)
- CSUF: 2-4 (2-1 vs UCSB, 0-3 vs UCSD)
If both Fullerton and Santa Barbara sweep, UCSB gets the automatic bid into the postseason based on this tie breaker formula.
No Sweeps, Then What?
Simply stated, if UCSB loses at least one game on the rock in Hawai’i, that bodes well for the Titans chances to get into the postseason; that is if the Titans win more or equals the number of wins UC Santa Barbara holds to end the weekend. Here’s how it looks:
Good for Fullerton Scenarios
Scenario 1: Fullerton sweeps and Santa Barbara loses one or more games. The Titans would tie UCSD for first place and earn the postseason auto-bid due to UCSD ineligibility for postseason.
Scenario 2: Both Fullerton and UCSB win and lose the same number of games (2-1 or 1-2) on the weekend. UCSD would win the Big West outright but remains ineligible for the NCAA auto-bid. Cal State Fullerton and UCSB would tie for second place and the Titans would receive the auto-bid due to tie breaker. The Titans won the series 2-1 vs. the Gauchos back on April 6-8 and the head-to-head record is used to break ties.
Scenario 3: Both UCSB and CSUF get swept this weekend, CSUN gets swept at CSU Bakersfield AND UC Irvine loses two at UC Riverside. This one has lots of highly unlikely moving parts in that Hawai’i sweeping UCSB would move the Rainbows into a tie with Fullerton and the Titans hold the tie breaker over Hawai’i. If the Titans win at least one in Cal Poly, this scenario becomes moot.
Bad for Fullerton Scenarios
Scenario 1: UCSB sweeps and CSUF loses one or more games. The Gauchos would tie UCSD for first place and earn the postseason auto-bid due to UCSD ineligibility for postseason.
Scenario 2: UCSB wins one more game than Cal State Fullerton and they would take second place outright with no need for a tie breaker.
Scenario 3: The Titans only win one game and CSUN and UC Irvine win two and sweep in their respective series. There are lots of moving parts to this one but rest assured, if the Titans can at the very least win two games in San Luis Obispo, this scenario does not come into play.
Although the Titans need to win the series vs. Cal Poly at the very least to avoid complicated scenarios, they need other teams to lose to help their cause. Getting swept by UCSD and the two losses to Long Beach really hurt the Titans but they are not dead yet.
Winning cures all ills and a sweep at Cal Poly can only help their cause. If the Gauchos can lose at least one this weekend, it will help the Titans tremendously. That means Titan Baseball fans need to become huge Hawai’i fans for the Titans to have a chance.
The Titans end the regular season at Cal Poly with sights on improving their resume in order to qualify for the post season. As we touched on in the previous section, winning will help but the Titans need help from roughly 2,500 miles away in Hawai’i.
Cal Poly and Cal State Fullerton have met 123 times on the baseball field since the series began when both teams were California Collegiate Athletic Association members back in 1966. The Titans hold a 72-51 advantage, but Thursday marks the 92nd meeting between Cal State Fullerton and Cal Poly since Cal State Fullerton joined the Divsion 1 ranks, with the first meeting coming in 1984. Although the overall record favors the Titans more than 2-to-1, recent history has not been so kind. The Titans are on a seven-game losing streak against the Mustangs dating back to May 14, 2021.
Cal Poly swept the Titans during a four-game series in 2021 at Baggett Stadium by scores of 5-1, 13-3, 10-0 and 9-1 and won all three games at Goodwin Field last year by 13-4, 6-2 and 2-1 scores. Cal Poly has enjoyed some recent success against the Titans with 24 victories in the last 46 meetings over the previous 14 seasons, winning series at home in 2007, 2011, 2014, 2016, 2017 and 2021 in addition to last year’s sweep in Fullerton, the Mustangs first series win at Goodwin Field since 1997, the year Cal Poly joined the Big West.
At the Plate
The Mustangs are hitting .279 as a team, fifth in the 11-team Big West. Infielder Ryan Fenn leads his team and ranks seventh in the Big West in batting average (.344). Aaron Casillas is right behind him with a .338 average while Jake Steels and Ryan Stafford both hold a .324 batting average. Collin Villegas leads the Mustangs in home runs with 123 on the season, sixth best in the Big West.
On the Bump
The pitching staff ERA is 5.82, good for ninth in the conference but as you might expect, Friday starter Bryce Warrecker is the ace of the staff. His 4.62 ERA ranks 17th in the conference while closer Ryan Baum’s 4.76 ERA leads the bullpen arms and ranks 21st in the conference. Warrecker’s 72 Ks on the season leads the team and ranks ninth in the Big West.
Fynn Chester’s absence this weekend could be a blessing in disguise. Cal Poly holds a 3-15 record when facing left-handed starters. Despite the Titans’ Friday starter listed as TBA, our money is on Peyton Jones to get the start. The lefty enters the final weekend with a 4-1 record and 3.60 ERA.
Also of note, leading hitter Ryan Fenn suffered an injury this past weekend vs. UC Santa Barbara and could miss the entire weekend. Should that be the case, the Titan pitchers could have a sigh of relief knowing they may not have to face the best hitter for the Mustangs.
The stakes are high for the Titans but as we noted in the scenarios, a good showing in San Luis Obispo along with some luck out on the Hawai’ian Islands, and the Titans could advance to the postseason for the first time since 2018.
Friday, May 25: LHP – Tyler Stultz (6-4, 4.63 ERA) vs. RHP – Bryce Warrecker (3-6, 4.62 ERA)
Saturday, May 26: TBA vs. LHP – Travis Weston (2-3, 6.81 ERA)
Sunday, May 27: RHP – Evan Yates (2-2, 3.45 ERA) vs. RHP – Steven Brooks (4-2, 5.88 ERA)
Times listed are Pacific time:
May 19, 2023 (Friday) vs. Long Beach State – 6:00 PM
May 20, 2023 (Saturday) vs. Long Beach State – 5:00 PM
May 21, 2023 (Sunday) vs. Long Beach State – 1:00 PM