Thursday Thoughts: Stanford Series

The 2022 season opening Thursday Thoughts: Stanford Series opens with optimism but tempered in reality. The season finally arrived after a topsy-turvy off-season with the Titans opening the season up at Stanford this past weekend. Many fans welcomed the long standing series with the Cardinal after taking a year hiatus in 2021.

As we do every Thursday, (sometimes early sometimes late), we recap the prior weekend in Titan Baseball and dive deeper into aspects that were good, aspects that were bad and some aspects that were downright ugly. With everything seeming to be new in 2022, a new head coach, new coaching staff, new players and even a new clubhouse / coaches offices / ticketing office behind a beautiful statue of Augie Garrido, we’re hopeful that 2022 brings us more good than bad and definitely a lot less ugly.

Here’s to the new season already underway.

The Results

Friday, February 18, 2022 @ Stanford: LOSS – 0-1
Saturday, February 19, 2022 @ Stanford: WIN – 11-0
Sunday, February 20, 2022 @ Stanford: LOSS – 1-11

Season to date stats

Overall Record: 1-2
Conference Record: 0-0
Streak: LOST 1
Last 10: 1-2

Offense

Runs Scored: 12
Hits: 24
Doubles: 5
Triples: 0
Home Runs: 2
RBI: 11
Team Batting Avg: .240
On-Base %: .306
Slugging %: .350
Walks: 9
Extra base hits: 7
Total bases: 35
Hit by pitch: 1
Stolen Bases: 0
Strikeouts: 22

Defense

Errors: 4
Fielding %: .965
Double Plays turned: 3
Passed Balls: 0
Stolen Bases allowed: 5

Pitching

Team ERA: 3.96
Batting average against: .223
Hits allowed: 21
Total Runs Allowed: 12
Walks Issued: 15
Strikeouts: 16
Ks per 9 innings: 5.76
Home runs allowed: 2

Titans of the Week

Winners chosen via Twitter poll

Pitcher of the Week

Cameron Repetti: 6IP – 2H – 0ER – 2BB – 3K

Also considered:
Tyler Stultz: 5IP – 4H – 0ER – 1BB – 3K (W)
Josh Howit: 1IP – 1H – 0ER – 0BB – 1K
Sam Gomez: 1IP – 0H – 0ER -2BB – 1K


Batter of the Week

Damone Hale: 5/9 – .556 – 3R – 1RBI – 0BB – 2K

Also considered:
Austin Schell: 3/8 – .375 – 2R – 2 RBI – 0BB – 3K – 1HR
Zach Lew: 4/11 – .364 – 2R – 1RBI – 1BB – 2K
Carter White: 3/0 – .300 – 0R – 1RBI – 2BB – 1K

The Good

0.00 ERA through 20 Innings

The Titan hurlers racked up 20 consecutive innings without allowing an earned run this weekend at Stanford. What a difference a Dietz makes!

Despite the one run loss on Friday, starter Cameron Repetti went six inning without letting up an earned run. James Wambold and Josh Howit relieved on Friday and kept the earned run drought alive.

Saturday, newcomer Tyler Stultz continued the streak going a strong five innings and kept Stanford scoreless. Jake Vargas, Gavin Meyer, Samuel Gomez and Fynn Chester all pitched an inning each and helped keep the 11-0 shutout. Saturday night, the Titans team ERA sat at 0.00 after 17 innings of work.

Christian Rodriguez started Sunday and threw three scoreless innings until the top of the fourth. In the fourth, Carter Graham doubled down the left field line to score Drew Bowser who previously walked. The first three innings of shutout baseball on Sunday combined with the 17 the previous two days makes for 20 innings of unearned runs baseball. Not too shabby for a team last year that had a season team ERA of 6.01.

Unfortunately, Sunday proved to be a high scoring affair for the Cardinal, scoring 11 runs, all of them earned. 11 earned runs in 25 innings works out to a 3.96 team ERA for the weekend. Still a full two runs lower than last year but there are still a lot more games to go. The good news is that Stanford was ranked No. 5 – 8 in most college baseball polls and holding them at bay for 20 innings is not something to take lightly.

Titan Baseball grey uniforms
Caden Connor (5), JJ Cruz (35), JT Navyac (3) and Zach Lew (1) model the uniform before Friday’s game.
(Photo courtesy of Titan Athletics)

Grey pinstripes are back!

How long have Titan Baseball fans asked for the road grey pinstriped uniforms to make a return? It’s been quite some time and they made their triumphant return on Friday at Stanford.

Not much else to say but when you look good, you play good. (Apologies for the grammatical error but ‘look good, play well’ doesn’t flow as well.)

We’re not sure who to thank for bringing them back. Joe Camacho, the head equipment guy for the Titans? Head Coach Jason Dietrich? Maybe Neil Walton because the grey pinstripes were worn back when he played for the Titans and won a national championship? Did the players take a vote and decide to bring them back?

Whomever is responsible, thank you. We’re personally looking forward to seeing these road greys more often this season. Now as for the new Big West Conference logo on the left chest… more on that later.

Austin Schelle Stanford
Austin Schell at Second base on Saturday during a game that the Titans would score 11 runs.
(Photo courtesy of Titan Athletics)

Saturday scoring explosion

The Titans scored 12 runs total on the weekend but 11 of them came on Saturday. Yavapai College transfer Damone Hale delivered a big performance going 4-for-5 at the plate with two runs scored and knocking in a run. Although he did not steal a base, Hale proved trouble on the base paths causing stressful situations for the Stanford pitchers.

Other Titans with multiple hits on the day included Zach Lew (3), Austin Schell (3), Jackson Lyon (2) and JT Navyac (2). In total, the Titans racked up 16 hits on Saturday and walked four times. Unfortunately, they also struck out 10 times and stranded seven runners on base.

It would have been nice to save some of those runs for the following day but that is not the way baseball works.

Caden Connor Stanford
Caden Connor prior to hitting his grand slam vs. Stanford, his first home run of his college career.
(Photo courtesy of Titan Athletics)

Connor off the HR Schneid

Since arriving on campus and playing his first season of D1 baseball in 2020, Caden Connor had not had a home run in his college career… until Saturday. What a way to get of the homer Schneid by hitting a grand slam in the top of the fourth inning.

You can see in the video as Connor comes back to the dugout, he is so pumped up that he nearly knocks over Cameron Repetti. Good thing Cam bumped Connor with his left shoulder and hit Caden’s right shoulder, both protecting their arms they throw with. Titan fans don’t want to see Repetti’s right arm injured due to a celebration gone wrong.

Stanford Friday & Sunday live-stream much improved

If you have read our Thursday Thoughts following the 2020 Stanford series, you know how we lamented and lambasted the quality of the Stanford stream.

Friday and Sunday Stanford live-streams had multiple camera angles and instant replay. Saturday was just one camera back in the press box behind home plate. If you know Sunken Diamond at Stanford, you know there is ample amount of foul ball territory behind home plate. The distance alone and the lack of zoom on the single camera made Saturday a bit difficult to watch.

Outside of the Busch league and downright douchey announcers, the Friday and Sunday streams were tolerable. That’s saying a lot because both those games turned out to be Titan losses. It’s unclear if the Saturday game offensive explosion had the worst TV coverage on purpose but it does seem a bit coincidental.

Either way, after the 2020 experience, the Stanford live-stream was improved this year.

Fans at Goodwin Field
Jake Pavletich pumps up the Goodwin field fans during the 2018 Super Regionals. COVID protocols prevented a fan turn out like this in 2021.

Pre-COVID normalcy is back!

The 2020 season was anything but what Titan fans consider “normal”. The team started 4-12 before the world decided to cancel everything, including the college baseball season. Last year, players needed to consistently test for COVID-19 and no fans were allowed in the stands for the first half of the season. The second half, Titan Athletics chose to limit the number of fans that could attend by restricting the stadium to only season ticket holders and they needed to request entrance a week or two prior to the games.

All signs now point to the 2022 season coming back as if there never was a pandemic. And to this we say, “Hallelujah!”.

The Titan Athletics office has promoted baseball season ticket sales anywhere and everywhere you can look, on social media and in emails. No mention of mask requirements, temperature checks, social distancing or any of the other restrictions placed upon all of us “out of an abundance of caution”.

Huzzah, three cheers and a 21 gun salute and all that garbage to getting back to normalcy. Hopefully the Titans can deliver a weekend sweep and get on the right side of the .500 winning percentage vs. Gonzaga. Then things will definitely start to feel a little more normal.

Fake Titan Baseball Ticket
A fake and clearly doctored 2022 Titan Baseball Season Ticket.
(Don’t try to use it. It won’t work.)

New season ticket format

With a new ticket box office comes a new ticketing system. For the season ticket holders for men’s and women’s basketball, this could be old news. But for the baseball season ticket holders, they’ve noticed that the Titans have embraced the digital age.

Now Titan Baseball season ticket holders can gain entry to games by having a gate attendant scan a QR code on their phone much like the airlines have been doing for years now. (See an example to the right. It’s not a real season ticket so don’t try to use it.)

We all know that the Titan Baseball fans base is an aging one and they do offer a printed option for fans that prefer to have their ticket in hand and not stored on a device. The possibility of some hiccups for fans using this system occurring is quite real. Hopefully the transition to paperless ticketing proves smooth as glass and fans adapt to it well.

The big questions remain; Will the new ticketing windows located in the newly constructed clubhouse and coaches offices offer the option to take credit card payments? For the longest time, that little trailer outside of Goodwin Field could only take cash. Without an ATM readily available, many wonder how many fans chose to not come because of the cash only ability.

A big thank you goes out to Jim Donovan and the rest of the Athletic Department staff for transitioning to a paperless system. Everyone has their phone on them at all times which means they will always have their tickets ready to go.

The Bad

JT Navyac Double Play
JT Navyac prepares to throw to First Base to complete one of two double plays recorded vs. Grand Canyon during fall ball scrimmages.
(Photo courtesy of Don Hudson)

Navyac error on Friday

We’re not picking on JT Navyac here, but the error in the first inning proved to be the difference in the game. For those watching in-person or on the live-stream, the error was not that egregious. It was your garden variety error where the ball just at him up.

In the bottom of the first inning with runners on first and third and two outs, Drew Bowser‘s infield ground ball found Navyac, but he was not able to get the runner out at first. Tommy Troy scored, and that lone score was the difference.

Adding to it, had Navyac completed the play, Bowser would have been out at first for the third out and the run would have never scored.

As they say on Ted Lasso, “unlucky”.

No post-game replay available

Stanford scheduled the opening game of the college baseball season to start at 2 pm on Friday. Although the game was live-streamed, it was live only. If you didn’t watch it live as it was going on, you didn’t watch it.

Sure, this feels like a throwback to the days before VCRs and DVRs, but the technology is there to record these types of things. Would it kill the Pac-12 Network to buy some extra storage space and at least make the game available on replay for a week before erasing it? For crying out loud, you can still watch the final three games of the Fullerton / Long Beach State Series from May 2021. (Not sure many fans would want to relive that…)

If the Big West can provide replay, you’d think the Pac-12 with all that football money can at the very least, buy enough storage space to replay the games on-demand for a week.

Cam Repetti Fullerton
Cameron Repetti
(Photo courtesy of Don Hudson)

Repetti hung with loss

In our opinion, the pitcher’s win/loss record is a garbage stat. The number of wins and the number of losses a pitcher gets saddled with each season does not provide anyone with any information on the quality of the pitcher. Case and point; Cameron Repetti, pitched six innings without allowing an earned run and still got the loss. Lack of run support and fielding errors should not dictate wins and losses for pitcher.

Conversely, the Stanford Friday pitcher Alex Williams, got the win. Williams gets the win because his teammate scored the only run on an error that extended the inning. But because in baseball you need to have a winning and a losing pitcher, we have arrived at this point.

We would argue that Repetti out pitched Williams in that he lasted longer, struck out more batters and gave up the same number of hits. But a lack of run support and an error behind him and the rules dictate he is the game loser.

As they say on Ted Lasso, “unlucky”.

Jason Dietrich Mound Visit Sunday Stanford
Jason Dietrich visits the mound during Christian Rodriguez start on Sunday vs. Stanford.
(Photo courtesy of Titan Athletics)

Sunday pitching woes

Obviously if the Friday and Saturday guys keep Stanford without an earned run, the Sunday guys are the culprit for the 11 runs scored on the final game of the series. Were the Titans going to run the table and never give up an earned run and the only losses come by way or error? Of course not. But we would have liked to have seen a bit more fight from the Sunday guys that what we saw.

The biggest, glaring stat that jumped out at us were the number of walks issued on Sunday. A total of 11 base-on-balls were issued to go along with 15 hits. The Cardinal stranded 12 base runners and the score could have been a lot worse had they cashed in on those opportunities.

Stanford’s No. 1 – 3 hitters all received multiple walks. Brock Jones, the pre-season All-American darling boy that the announcers couldn’t stop gushing over, was walked three times on Sunday. The first time Sunday starter Christian Rodriguez faced Jones, he walked him. What you don’t see by only looking at the box score is how they both approached that at-bat. Rodriguez looked tentative and afraid of making a mistake. Jones looked confident and all the part of a preseason All-American.

The second time Jones came to the plate, he walked on five pitches. The only strike was a foul tip but otherwise all the other pitches were well out of the zone. But right when we thought the wheels were going to fall off, Rodriguez gets Kody Huff to strike out looking on a nasty off-speed pitch. Rodriguez walked into the dugout welcomed by his cheering teammates for ending the inning on a dirty pitch for a punch out.

In our opinion, Rodriguez needs to trust his stuff and build confidence. Who cares if the guy at the plate is a preseason All-American? Go out there and throw strikes and challenge him. C-Rod’s stuff is electric when it is on. And when it is on is when he shows confidence.

All 11 runs on Sunday didn’t all come off C-Rod and the other pitchers shoulder just as much responsibility. Wambold, who looked great on Friday, went 1.1 innings and gave up two hits and two earned runs that came by way of a Braden Montgomery homer. Peyton Jones and Jake Vargas also were tagged with multiple earned runs. Michael Wesiberg didn’t get off easy the day after his birthday and was touched up for a homer and two earned runs.

The boys should get it straightened out and you can be assured Jason Dietrich is addressing it this week in practice.

The Ugly

Schell Urman Pigford Sunday Road Orange
Austin Schell (23), Cole Urman (25) and Deylan Pigford (2) model the Sunday road orange tops.
(Photo courtesy of Titan Athletics)

Big West logo on left shoulder

Remember in the “Good” section, the high praise the road grey pinstripes received? Unfortunately, the ugly has to go to the Big West logo on the left chest area.

Call us old school but we prefer the old Big West logo, and we definitely prefer it NOT of the left chest. We understand the Nike logo needs to be on the right chest area. It was moved there, from the sleeve, a while back. The Big West Conference logo just makes the uniform top look too busy. These are ballplayers, not NASCAR drivers. Too much stuff going on and it detracts from the overall look.

We got to thinking that maybe the Big West requires its member teams to wear the new logo on that area of the uniform. Nope. Not in the slightest.

In taking a trip around the internet looking at opening weekend photos, none of the Big West teams had the new logo on the chest area. In fact, the handful of teams we checked out, all had the conference logo on the sleeve, and it was not even the new logo. Cal Poly, Hawaii, UC Irvine, Long Beach State, all of them, did not have the logo placed in the same place Fullerton did.

Along the same lines of wanting to know who is responsible for bringing back the road grey pinstripes, we want to know who handles the Big West logo location on Titan uniforms in 2022. Sad to say it, but it’s ugly.

Looking Ahead

The Titans home opening series starts Friday when they welcome in the Gonzaga Bulldogs. This weekend will mark the first time these two teams have met since the Titans won the 2017 series 2-1 at Goodwin Field.

Gonzaga comes to Fullerton after opening the season in the Sanderson Ford College Baseball Classic over in Surprise, Arizona. The ‘Zags played five games total and left the desert with a 3-2 record, The Bulldogs beat New Mexico twice, lost to Oregon State twice and beat Cal in the final game. The Bulldogs return 24 players from a 2021 team that went 34-19 and went to the Eugene Regional last season.

Although five games to start the season is a small sample size, Gonzaga ranks in the Top 10 in multiple D1 offensive categories. The Zags rank 6th in total hits (56), 3rd in doubles (15) and 4th in triples (3). The Titan pitchers will definitely need to be on their game this weekend.

Gonzaga players to watch closely include team batting average leader Grayston Sterling (.429), who has connected on the most doubles in the nation (5) and 11th-most hits (9) to go with three RBI and four runs. Sophomore catcher/DH Stephen Lund has the next-best batting average on the team (.353) with six hits, two runs and three RBI. Grad Transfer 1B Shea Kramer has the fourth-most doubles in Division 1 with four, batting .250 with five hits, three runs and three RBI.

Gabriel Hughes‘ 10 K’s in his season debut against New Mexico lead the ‘Zags bullpen, and LHP Bradley Mullan is the team’s ERA leader after a six-inning start against New Mexico on Feb. 19 that went without an earned run from the Lobos. Overall, the GU pitching staff had held opposing batters to a .269 average over the first five games of the season, with a strikeout/walk ratio of 43/21. The rest of the ‘Zags defense has a fielding percentage of .967, with 47 assists on 129 putouts with six errors.

Weekend Probables

Friday, February 25: RHP – Cameron Repetti (0-1, 0.00 ERA) vs. RHP – Gabriel Hughes (0-0, 3.00 ERA)
Saturday, February 26: LHP – Tyler Stultz (1-0, 0.00 ERA) vs. RHP – William Kempner (0-1, 6.23 ERA)
Sunday, February 27: RHP – Christian Rodriguez (0-1, 4.50 ERA) vs. RHP – Trystan Vrieling (0-1, 18.00 ERA)

Times listed are Pacific time:

February 25, 2022 (Friday) vs. Gonzaga – 7:00 PM
February 26, 2022 (Saturday) vs. Gonzaga – 6:00 PM
February 27, 2022 (Sunday) vs. Gonzaga – 12:00 PM

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