The third time’s the charm and the third consecutive road trip for the Titans resulted in their first series sweep of the season. The Titans returned home on Tuesday and promptly dismantled the UCLA Bruins to the tune of 15-5. The win on Tuesday extended the Titans win streak to five games.
Some may discount the series sweep by pointing to UC Davis’s poor record and their traditional residency on the bottom of the Big West Conference standings. We say a sweep is a sweep and all three of those wins count just as much had they come against other Big West schools.
Although Titans fans that did not make the trip north only got to see one game via the ESPN+ live-stream, hats off to the Titans social media team for provided detailed updates via Twitter on Saturday and Sunday. Many fans questioned that if UC Davis could live-stream Friday’s game, why not Saturday and Sunday? We have a theory on that and will expand on it is the “ugly” segment.
The momentum of the first series sweep must have carried over to Tuesday as the Titans bludgeoned the Bruins at Goodwin Field. The 10-run differential is the largest margin of victory over the Bruins since 2008, when the Titans defeated the Bruins 13-2 at Jackie Robinson Stadium. We’ll take a deeper dive into the UCLA win later on in this column.
Join us as we look at the Good, the Bad and the Ugly that was Titan Baseball this past week against the UC Davis Aggies and the UCLA Bruins.
Friday, March 24, 2023 @ UC Davis: WIN – 11-2
Saturday, March 25, 2023 @ UC Davis: WIN – 6-4
Sunday, March 26, 2023 @ UC Davis: WIN – 4-1
Tuesday, March 28, 2023 vs. UCLA: WIN – 15-5
Season to date stats
Overall Record: 12-8
Conference Record: 5-1
Streak: WON 5
Last 10: 8-2
Runs Scored: 135
Home Runs: 10
Team Batting Avg: .278
On-Base %: .380
Slugging %: .398
Extra base hits: 63
Total bases: 282
Hit by pitch: 25
Stolen Bases: 19
Fielding %: .975
Double Plays turned: 14
Passed Balls: 5
Stolen Bases allowed: 7
Team ERA: 4.95
Batting average against: .264
Hits allowed: 187
Total Runs Allowed: 110
Walks Issued: 88
Ks per 9 innings: 9.59
Home runs allowed: 19
Titans of the Week
Winners chosen via Twitter poll
Pitcher of the Week
Evan Yates: 5IP – 3H – 0ER – 1BB – 8K – 0.00 ERA
Trevor Hinkle: 5IP – 5H – 1ER – 1BB – 2K – 1.80 ERA
Peyton Jones: 5.1IP – 1H – 1ER – 2BB – 3K – 1.69 ERA – 1 W
Tyler Stultz: 8IP – 8H – 2ER – 1BB – 5K – 2.25 ERA – 1 W
Vote on this week’s #CalStateOmaha Pitcher of the Week*:
Trevor Hinkle: 5IP – 5H – 1ER – 1BB – 2K – 1.80 ERA@peytonjonesy: 4.1IP – 5H – 1ER – 2BB – 4K – 2.08 ERA – 1 W@Tyler_Stultz5: 8IP – 8H – 2ER – 1BB – 5K – 2.25 ERA – 1 W@evan_yates17: 5IP – 3H – 0ER – 1BB – 8K – 0.00 ERA
— Cal State Omaha (@CalStateOmaha) March 29, 2023
Batter of the Week
Nate Nankil: 7-for-17 – .410 – 5R – 9RBI – 5BB – 3K – 1HR
Caden Connor: 7-for-18 – .390 – 2R – 5RBI – 1BB – 3K
Jack Haley: 5-for-15 – .333 – 3R – 2RBI – 0BB – 5K
Carter White: 6-for-16 – .380 – 8R – 4RBI – 3BB – 0K
Vote on this week’s #CalStateOmaha Batter of the Week Nominees*:@Caden_Connor77: 7/18 – .390 – 2R – 5RBI – 1BB – 3K@jackhaley25: 5/15 – .333 – 3R – 2RBI – 0BB – 5K@nankils619: 7/17 – .410 – 5R – 9RBI – 5BB – 3K – 1HR@carter__white: 6/16 – .380 – 8R – 4RBI – 3BB – 0K
— Cal State Omaha (@CalStateOmaha) March 29, 2023
Head coach Jason Dietrich on today’s win and series sweep over UC Davis.#TusksUp pic.twitter.com/JhEmXxP1c0
— Titans Baseball (@FullertonBSB) March 27, 2023
Fourth Series Win & First Sweep
Friday was a laugher, but Saturday and Sunday ended up being a dogfight. No matter, the Titans persevered and captured their first weekend sweep of the season. Sure, it was against UC Davis, a traditional bottom feeder within the Big West, but a sweep is a sweep.
The Titans currently sit second in the Big West standings, tied with UC Santa Barbara at 5-1. The Titans host the Gauchos the Thursday-Friday-Saturday before Easter in what could be a series that decides the conference.
Evan Yates Sunday Performance
If you read last week’s Thursday Thoughts, you may recall we shined a light on Evan Yates and his recent struggles to go deep into games. Something must have clicked for Mr. Yates because he responded in a big way up in Davis.
At UC Davis, Yates started on Sunday and went five innings, giving up three hits, walking one, striking out eight and most importantly, no runs. As expected, Peyton Jones relieved Yates to start the sixth inning despite Yates retiring the side 1-2-3 in the fifth.
Upon Yates leaving the game, the Titans and Aggies remained tied scoreless. Not until the top of the seventh inning did the Titans put up their first three runs thanks to a Nate Nankil 3-run home run.
With the righty / lefty combination of Yates and Jones looking as though Sundays are theirs to win, if he can keep this up and continue to go to the fifth or sixth inning, it should save a few more bullets in Jones’ arm for later in the season.
Nate Nankil on his three-run home run and the team starting conference playing with back-to-back series wins.#TusksUp pic.twitter.com/C0AUDS6Q2U
— Titans Baseball (@FullertonBSB) March 27, 2023
Nankil & Bobo Both Homer at Davis
The two guys expected to put up the bigger power numbers delivered up in Davis over the weekend. The Titans have hit 10 homers on the season and Brendan Bobo (4) and Nate Nankil (2), account for 60% of those long balls.
.@LattaMaddox can hit B💣MBS too!
Titans lead 4-2#TusksUp pic.twitter.com/Ou9kfjGTls
— Titans Baseball (@FullertonBSB) March 24, 2023
We should also note, Maddox Latta went yard on Friday joining the aforementioned Bobo and Nankil along with Caden Connor, Zach Lew and Cole Urman as the sixth Titan to go deep this season.
Trevor Hinkle Saturday at Davis
Although he did not earn the win on Saturday, (Fynn Chester earned his 3rd win of the season on Saturday) Trevor Hinkle pitched much better than in recent weeks. Hinkle went five innings, giving up five hits, one earned run, walking one and striking out two. More importantly, Hinkle did not give up a home run during his UC Davis outing.
By allowing only one earned run during his five innings at UC Davis, Hinkle lowered his ERA to 7.98, down from 9.25. Based on his outing up at Davis, expect Hinkle to get another weekend start vs. Hawai’i.
RPI on the Rise
It’s early. Very early. But it is fun to take a peek at the current D1Baseball RPI rankings following the UCLA win.
Currently, the Titans have an RPI of 53. The win vs. the Bruins bumped the Titans RPI by eight points. The Titans have improved their RPI by 29 points in a 7-day stretch.
The general rule of thumb as a qualification to receive an at-large bid in the post-season, a team needs to carry an RPI of 50 or lower for serious consideration. Granted, two-thirds of the season remains, and the Titans have a long way to go but the fact remains; In recent years, the Titans have needed to win the conference in order to gain entry into the NCAA tournament. It’s fun again to keep tabs and have an opportunity to get into the playoffs even if another team wins the conference.
Drubbing UCLA Tuesday
Although the Titans last game vs. UCLA ended up being a win, (9-2, 5/10/22) it seems as though the Bruins have had the Titans’ number recently. Tuesday’s win over the Bruins makes it two in a row but before that, UCLA had beaten Cal State Fullerton seven consecutive games, dating back to 2018.
Aided by some errors, a setting sun and some fundamental mistakes by the Bruins combined by Fullerton’s timely hitting and lights out pitching, the Titans beat UCLA 15-5. The win marked the fifth straight win on the season and improved the Titans to 12-8, four games above .500.
The five game win streak equals the longest winning streak in the Jason Dietrich era. Last season the Titans strung together five in a row starting on April 14th with a sweep of UC Davis, a win vs. USC and then a Friday win vs. Cal State Northridge on April 22, 2022. The Titans lost 2-1 on Saturday to snap the streak.
With a win on Friday, the Titans would extend the streak to six. The last winning streak over five games in a row came in 2018, the last year the Titans would win the Big West Conference and advance to the post season. That streak stood at eight games with a sweep of UC Irvine, a sweep of UC Davis and winning the first two games vs. UC Riverside.
Let’s check in on the streaks heading into this past weekend’s series and see how those players fared:
- Maddox Latta had a 16 game on-base streak heading into the UC Davis series. Garnering a hit and a walk on Friday, Latta extended it to 17 games. Unfortunately that’s when it ended. Latta sat out Saturday’s game and did not register a hit, walk or get hit by a pitch on Sunday, ending his on-base streak. Adding to it, Latta failed to register a hit on Sunday and again on Tuesday vs. UCLA and has a 10 at-bat hitless streak right now.
- Carter White recorded a hit in all three games vs. UC Davis and three hits vs. UCLA to extend his hit streak to 15 games and on-base streak to 18 games. White has reached safely either via hit, walk or hit-by-pitch in all 18 games he has played in this season.
Jason Blood Recent Struggles
Leading up to the weekend series vs. Pepperdine, Jason Blood carried a 2.84 ERA in 12 2/3rds innings of work. In the past three weeks vs. Pepperdine, UC Irvine and UCLA, Blood has given up seven earned runs in 3 2/3rds innings for a 17.18 ERA in that three game stretch.
Blood did not pitch up at UC Davis, leading everyone to think he would start against the Bruins. He did get the start. Despite mid-week games notoriously being an all-staff night on the mound, many expected Blood to go deeper in the UCLA game. He gave up three runs in the second inning, Blood was lifted in favor of Ryan Faulks with two outs in the books. Thanks to a four-run bottom of the first by the Titans offense, Blood left the game with the Titans still leading.
We are hopeful that Jason Blood can turn it around and put up zeroes out of the bullpen this weekend when Hawai’i comes to Goodwin Field.
Lack of Live-Stream Saturday & Sunday
Many Titan fans were shocked and surprised to learn that UC Davis chose not to live-stream the Saturday and Sunday games after televising the Friday night game. No explanation was provided as to why.
Clearly, UC Davis had the equipment and capabilites to live-stream the Friday game. So why not the next day? We have a few theories that are merely theories and are based on opinion and deductive reasoning. In no way is this the real reason because no reason was provided.
First pitch in the sixth inning and we are tied again as Bella Pahulu clears the wall in center. 4-4 B6. #GoAgs pic.twitter.com/GbmpxxDZw0
— UC Davis Softball (@ucdavissoftball) March 25, 2023
Theory No. 1: UC Davis only has enough equipment to broadcast one game at a time.
In taking a closer look at the UC Davis Softball schedule, they played a double header on Saturday vs. Long Beach State and ended the three game series on Sunday. The first pitch for Aggie Softball on Saturday coincided with the first pitch of the baseball game. On Sunday, the ladies started at noon while baseball started at 1 pm.
If the UCD athletic department only has enough cameras, equipment and staff to broadcast one game at a time, softball is going to win that battle. Why? Most likely because of Title IX.
Since both sports hosted three game series, the UCD administration probably made the executive decision to televise more of the female sport so that they do not get sued under Title IX. If they truly wanted to be equal, they could have televised both Saturday softball games as part of their double header so that the ladies get two games on ESPN+.
Since Friday’s game had already been televised, they could have done the Sunday baseball game. That would equal two games for each sport. Instead, UCD chose to broadcast one baseball game and all three of the ladies.
Theory No. 2: The Softball team is more successful and would get more viewers
To put it mildly, Aggie Baseball is not top tier and probably does not bring in too many viewers outside of the visiting teams’ eyeballs. Coming into the Fullerton series, the Aggies record stood at 6-10.
Conversely, the Aggie Softball team entered the weekend series with Long Beach State 12-11. It may have been a pure business decision to go with televising softball because they held the better record and would probably bring in more viewers.
In hindsight, it may have been a good choice to have a total black out of both sports. Both the Aggie baseball and softball teams were swept at home this past weekend.
No matter which theory is right, wrong or a completely different theory is the actual truth, for Titans fans, the lack of live-streams on Saturday and Sunday was quite ugly.
After three consecutive weekends on the road, (Pepperdine, UC Irvine & UC Davis) the Titans return home to host the University of Hawai’i. The Rainbow Warriors come into Goodwin 12-8 overall and 2-1 in the Big West Conference.
Hawai’i is coming off a dominant weekend sweep of Tulane in which thery outscored the Green Wave, 15-3 over the three games. Their two wins in Big West Conference play came against Cal Poly the prior weekend up in San Luis Obispo.
Tulane is the only common opponent between Hawai’i and Cal State Fullerton thus far, with both teams beating the Green Wave in 2023. Of the eight losses for Hawai’i, three came against UConn, one vs. Wright State, USD, SDSU and Nebraska.
The ‘Bows arms were strong vs. Tulane allowing a single run in each of their three games vs. the Green Wave. Hawai’i starting pitchers Harry Gustin, Randy Abshier and Alex Giroux combined for a 0.53 ERA and 21 strikeouts to only three walks while giving up just five hits over 17 innings. In his last four outings, Gustin has posted a 1.71 ERA with 24 strikeouts over 21.0 innings pitched. UH has won in each of Gustin’s last four starts.
At the end of games, lefty Connor Harrison has been one of the Rainbow Warriors’ go-to arms out of the bullpen so far. The junior leads the team with nine appearances and has posted a 0.98 ERA with 23 strikeouts to just two walks over 18.1 innings pitched. Harrison also leads the Big West and is 15th nationally with five saves and is holding opponents to a .167 batting average against.
Offensively, Hawai’i can really swing the bats. The Rainbow Warriors have hit 18 home runs on the year, the most by a UH team through the first 20 games of a season since 2010. Seven different ‘Bows have homered, led by Kyson Donahue with five and Matt Wong and Jared Quandt with three each, to put UH in third place in the conference in long balls.
Junior third baseman Kyson Donahue has been on a tear over the last few weeks. Donahue heads into the Cal State Fullerton series on a 12-game hitting streak, batting .383 (18-for-47) with four homers and 18 RBIs over that stretch. He has driven in a run in 10 of the 12 games during his hitting streak and has an RBI in five straight games going into this weekend. On the season, he is batting .351 while leading the team with five homers and 24 RBIs. Donahue is also first on the team with a .623 slugging percentage and second with six doubles.
Friday, March 31: LHP – Tyler Stultz (3-1, 3.74 ERA) vs. LHP – Harry Gustin (2-1, 3.54 ERA)
Saturday, April 1: RHP – Trevor Hinkle (0-3, 7.98 ERA) vs. LHP – Randy Abshier (2-1, 3.12ERA)
Sunday, April 2: RHP – Evan Yates (0-0, 3.50 ERA) vs. TBA
Times listed are Pacific time:
March 31, 2023 (Friday) vs. Hawai’i – 6:00 PM
April 1, 2023 (Saturday) vs. Hawai’i – 5:00 PM
April 2, 2023 (Sunday) vs. Hawai’i – 1:00 PM