The Titans returned home after their second trip out of state and enter this weekend with a three-game losing streak; the longest losing streak of the season. That is a good thing that the Titans have not dropped three consecutive games until now.
The road trip to TCU was the first time all season that the Titans played in another time zone with their previous road trips all in the pacific time zone either in California or Arizona. Now we are not blaming the series loss on jet lag but more as a learning experience.
If the Titans play into the postseason, they will be on the road as someone else hosts that regional. The Titans trajectory is pointing up but still not back in the realm of hosting post season regionals. Maybe, just maybe, the series loss in Fort Worth will prove a learning experience for this group and they can take it and apply it towards the postseason.
It wasn’t a stellar week but with three weeks left before selection Monday, the path to the postseason remains in the Titans’ hands.
Join us as we look at the Good, the Bad and the Ugly that was Titan Baseball this past week at TCU and the mid-week game vs. UCLA and preview the weekend series vs. UC San Diego.
(First score listed is visiting team score, second number is the home team’s score)
Friday, May 5, 2023 at TCU: WIN – 2-1
Saturday, May 6, 2023 at TCU: LOSS – 4-13
Sunday, May 7, 2023 at TCU: LOSS – 1-6
Tuesday, May 9, 2023 at UCLA: LOSS – 2-10
Season to date stats
Overall Record: 28-16
Conference Record: 17-4
Streak: Lost 3
Last 10: 5-5
Runs Scored: 283
Home Runs: 27
Team Batting Avg: .273
On-Base %: .375
Slugging %: .399
Extra base hits: 133
Total bases: 609
Hit by pitch: 50
Stolen Bases: 35
Fielding %: .975
Double Plays turned: 39
Passed Balls: 6
Stolen Bases allowed: 22
Team ERA: 5.01
Batting average against: .282
Hits allowed: 443
Total Runs Allowed: 245
Walks Issued: 187
Ks per 9 innings: 8.75
Home runs allowed: 36
Polls and RPI Tracker
Titans of the Week
Winners chosen via Twitter poll
Pitcher of the Week
Tyler Stultz: 6IP – 7H – 1ER – 1BB – 5K – 1.50 ERA – 1 W
Jojo Ingrassia: 2IP – 1H – 0ER – 0BB – 2K – 0.00 ERA – 1S
Peyton Jones: 2.2IP – 1H – 1ER – 2BB – 4K – 3.38 ERA
Vote on this week’s #CalStateOmaha Pitcher of the Week Nominees*:@Jojoingrassia35: 2IP – 1H – 0ER – 0BB – 2K – 0.00 ERA – 1S@peytonjonesy: 2.2IP – 1H – 1ER – 2BB – 4K – 3.38 ERA @Tyler_Stultz5: 6IP – 7H – 1ER – 1BB – 5K – 1.50 ERA – 1 W#TusksUp #CalStateOmaha
— Cal State Omaha (@CalStateOmaha) May 10, 2023
Batter of the Week
Caden Connor: 8-for-16 – .500 – 2R – 2RBI – 1BB – 3K
No need to vote on this week’s #CalStateOmaha Batter of the Week Nominees.
— Cal State Omaha (@CalStateOmaha) May 10, 2023
Friday in Fort Worth
The pitchers of the week nominees, Tyler Stultz, Peyton Jones and Jojo Ingrassia all pitched on Friday night. Is it any surprise that the Friday game was the only game the Titans would win this past week?
Offensively, TCU outhit the Titans eight to six, but the Titans hits came with runners on base and in scoring position compared to a solo home run for the Horned Frogs. The lone defensive error did not factor into the final score of the game and was thus harmless.
Cold Streak Happened at the Right Time
We’ll touch on the three-game losing streak in “the bad” column but the good that comes out of it includes the timing of it. Going cold and losing three straight couldn’t have come at a better time in that all three loses, two to TCU and one mid-week to UCLA, all came against non-conference opponents.
Had this cold snap come during a different weekend against a Big West opponent, we’d be singing a different tune.
Magic Number 7
Speaking of conference opponents and series, with three weekends remaining, the Titans Magic Number sits at seven.
For those unfamiliar with baseball magic numbers, the phrase “magic number” is used to determine how close a team is to making the playoffs or winning the conference. It becomes prominent in college baseball during the month of May as teams begin closing in on clinching a postseason berth.
A team’s magic number represents the combination of wins needed by that team and losses by its closest competitor to clinch a given goal. Every time a team wins, its magic number decreases by one. Similarly, every time that the team’s closest competitor for the conference loses, the magic number also decreases by one.
I was told there would be no math
The exact formula is: Total conference games +1 – wins by first place team – losses by second place team.
Since UC Santa Barbara has nine more conference games remaining along with the Titans and currently sit in second place, two games behind Fullerton. We’ll use the gauchos to calculate the Titans’ Magic Number.
Total conference games = 30 – wins by CSUF (17) – losses by UCSB (6). 30-17-6=7
Keep in mind that if the Titans took the series two games to one over UCSB on April 6-8. Should the Gauchos and Titans end up in a tie at the end of the season. The Titans would win the tie breaker by virtue of the head-to-head series win.
For the next three weekends, any combination of a Titan win and a UCSB loss will decrease the Magic Number. The Titans control their own destiny and if they can take two of three games each weekend, they will guarantee themselves a share of the Big West Conference and the tie breaker.
Titans rooting for Dirtbags?
The Titan Baseball fans and players could find themselves in a very uncomfortable position this weekend. Rooting for the Long Beach State in any capacity goes against everything we’ve learned over the years, but it could prove beneficial this year.
The reason? UCSB . UCSB travels to Long Beach State for a three-game set vs. the Dirtbags. Every Dirtbag victory puts the Titans one step closer to clinching the Big West title. Could the Titans wrap up the Big West this weekend? It’s possible but highly improbable.
Realistically, the Titans have a very slim chance of clinching the Big West Conference title this weekend vs. UC San Diego. The Titans would need to sweep UCSD and Long Beach would need to sweep UC Santa Barbara. Possible? Yes. Probable? No.
But for just this weekend, Titan fans can root for the Dirtbags. After this week, things can return to normal because the Titans then host Long Beach State at Goodwin Field May 19-21.
— Titans Baseball (@FullertonBSB) May 6, 2023
Cinco Magnifico on Cinco de Mayo
Caden Connor wears number five and he had himself a magnificent Cinco de Mayo on Friday.
Connor batted third on Friday and went 3-for-4, drove in Moises Guzman that would prove to be the winning run and the difference in the game. Connor did not strike out in the game.
Coming into the TCU series, the Titans RPI sat at 41 or 42 depending on the RPI poll one looked. This week? 42 across the board.
Despite losing two games to TCU (RPI 50) and UCLA (RPI 59), the Titans remain in the at-large conversation for a postseason invite. Of course, winning the conference renders the RPI conversation moot but at this point in the rebuilding process, remaining relevant for the postseason is a huge goal.
The defense has improved slightly, committing one error in the last four games. The fielding percentage improved from this time last week, moving two points from .973 to .975.
More importantly are the defensive plays that do not show up in the box scores in the form of an error. Those plays, normally performed by Zach Lew, the plays that rob extra bases or erase an infield hit do not calculate into the overall fielding percentage.
Let’s check in on the streaks heading into this past weekend’s series and see how those players fared:
- Caden Connor collected eight hits in 16 combined at-bats vs. TCU and UCLA to start a four-game hit streak. More significantly, those hits added four games to his on-base streak, raising it to an even 20 games.
- Moises Guzman entered the TCU series with a 12-game walk streak and extended it to 16 following the UCLA game. Guzman walked once in each of those four games and now sits on a 16-game on-base streak as well.
Month of May = Warmer Weather but Cold Bats
Since the calendar has turned to May, the Titan bats as a collective, have gone cold. Starting with the Sunday game vs. Cal State Northridge, the Titans have a .152 team batting average (29-for-191) and average just under three runs per game.
Winning Series Streak Ended in Fort Worth
Starting with the Texas weekend back in February until last weekend against TCU, the Titan rattled off nine series wins thus far. Losing on Sunday broke that streak, and the Horned Frogs took the series.
With three weekends to go, if the Titans can win at least two out of three for the next three weeks, they will have won every conference series this season. The Titans have not won every conference series since 2015, a season they would win the Big Conference and make their 17th visit to Omaha in program history.
We’re not making any unfair comparisons of this year’s Titans squad to the 2015 Omaha team but in looking at the standings, UC Santa Barbara finished in second behind the Titans that year.
End 8 | TCU scores eight, take a 13-4 lead#TusksUp
— Titans Baseball (@FullertonBSB) May 7, 2023
Saturday 8th Inning
Heading into the bottom of the eighth inning on Saturday at TCU, the Titans trailed 5-4 to the Horned Frogs. In the eighth inning, the wheels came off leading to an eight-run inning.
If you want the full, unedited summary you can always look at the box score but here are the highlights (or lowlights considering that Titans fans mostly read this column).
Reliever Seth Tomczak recorded the first out of the eighth inning after pitching a scoreless sixth and seventh. Out comes Tomczak and in comes Trevor Hinkle with runners on first and second.
Hinkle proceeds to walk the bases loaded, walked in a run (charged to Tomczak), let up a 2-RBI single, another RBI single, a ground rule double that bounced over the fence and then another walk. Jason Dietrich lifts Hinkle in favor of Ryan Faulks.
With the bases loaded again, Faulks walks in a run (charged to Hinkle) lets up a 2-RBI double and walks another batter before getting Anthony Silva to line out to short stop.
Eight runs scored in the inning; the Frogs brought 14 batters to the plate with five making two plate appearances in the same inning. That’s ugly.
The Titans return home to face UC San Diego in the stretch run towards the postseason. Although UCSD as a program is transitioning from Division II to Division I, wins and losses still count but the Tritons are ineligible for postseason play.
The history between the Titans and the Tritons is not a long one, having only played nine games and two weekend series in the past. The Tritons’ first year in D1 Baseball came in the COVID-19 shortened season when the season ended before playing the Titans in conference play.
The Titans first played UC San Diego in 1975, the first year CSUF played D1 Baseball while UCSD was D2. They played again in 1983, a 5-0 win for the Titans.
In 2021, the conference season schedule featured four game series, each with a double header on Saturdays. The Titans would lose that series three games to one and last year, lost the series two games to one. The Titans hold a 4-5 losing record vs. UCSD and are 2-5 when both are members of the Big West and in Division 1. A weekend sweep of UCSD would bring the Titans to a .500 record against them as conference combatants.
At the Plate
UC San Diego ranks fifth in the Big West in batting average (.276). The Tritons rank fifth in runs batted in (265), runs scored (287) and sixth in total hits (419).
Four Triton starters are currently hitting over .300 and Patrick Hackworth (8th, .341) ranks 13th in the top 20 hitters in the Big West. Matt Halbach ranks ninth in the conference in total hits (56) and Doyle Kane ranks 12th (54).
On the Bump
UC San Diego ranks fifth in earned run average (4.66), second in opponent batting average (.251), third in total strikeouts (417) and fourth in hits allowed (384).
Izaak Martinez ranks second in the conference in wins (6), while Nic Gregson and Ethan Holtt rank 14th (4). Ryan Rissas is tied for seventh with five saves and Martinez ranks 11th with four. Ryan Forcucci ranks 12th in strikeouts (55) and Martinez is just below him in 13th (54), with Gregson ranking 17th (48). Gregson also ranks seventh in the conference in batters struck out looking (17).
The Titans need to shake off the rough past outings and refocus on winning the Big West. That starts Friday night at Goodwin vs. UC San Diego. The Tritons will not be complacent with winning their 25th game this season, a high mark for them as a Division 1 program. You know they will come into Goodwin looking to play spoiler on the Titans turn around season from years past.
UCSD may not be eligible to play in the NCAA postseason this year, but you know they would enjoy nothing less than to win the conference and have the second-place team go to the regionals in their place.
Cal State Fullerton needs to have short memories, get back to basics, have the weekend starters all have quality starts and the bats need to wake up. Securing another weekend series will not be easy but this year’s team has shown they can do it.
Friday, May 12: LHP – Tyler Stultz (6-3, 4.70 ERA) vs. RHP – Ryan Forcucci (3-1, 3.86 ERA)
Saturday, May 13: RHP – Fynn Chester (7-1, 2.91 ERA) vs. RHP Anthony Eyanson (2-1, 4.34)
Sunday, May 14: RHP – Evan Yates (1-1, 3.70 ERA) vs. RHP Nic Gregson (4-1, 5.72 ERA)
Times listed are Pacific time:
May 12, 2023 (Friday) vs. UCSD – 6:00 PM
May 13, 2023 (Saturday) vs. UCSD – 5:00 PM
May 14, 2023 (Sunday) vs. UCSD – 1:00 PM