This Thursday’s Thoughts has a 2004 feel to it. After failing to sweep UC Davis, a team sitting at the bottom of the Big West Conference standings, the Titans record currently sits at 15-16 heading into this weekend’s series at Cal State Northridge.
Many optimistic Titan Baseball fans will point to the Titans’ below .500 record and and draw comparisons to the 2004 Titan Baseball team that eventually won the College World Series in Omaha. Yes, the Titans are improving and as Associate Head Coach Sergio Brown pointed out on Twitter, the Titans are playing good baseball lately.
Just making sure the Titan faithful is sticking with us!!! 11 out of our last 14. Playing good baseball. Team is comin!!! Message to players…. it’s still not good enough. Need to be better!!! There’s more in the tank #effort #3% #win
— Sergio Brown (@CSFCoachBrown) April 20, 2021
Just to temper the enthusiasm of those fans wanting to compare the 2021 Titans to the 2004 Titans with identical records, ask yourselves this:
Do you forecast that this 2021 Titan Baseball squad has eight future Major Leaguers playing on it? If so, please leave your predictions in the comments below. Or you can make your predictions on social media and make sure to tag us and use the hashtag, #CalStateOmaha.
Just to refresh your memory, the eight 2004 Titans that made it to the show include Ricky Romero, Jason Windsor, Vinnie Pestano, Justin Turner, Blake Davis, Danny Dorn, Brett Pill and Kurt Suzuki. In addition to those that made it to the Bigs, 14 guys were drafted in the 2005 draft that played on that 2004 team with three of them (Ronnie Prettyman, P.J. Pilittere and Lauren Gagnier) making it all the way to Triple-A.
Of course future major league success does not determine if a team can make a run at Omaha but it sure does help. With the Titans set to face off with Cal State Northridge this weekend, a team coached by Dave Serrano who was on the 2004 Titans coaching staff, we look back at the UC Davis series that had some good, some bad and even some ugly aspects to it.
Friday, April 16, 2021 @ UC Davis: WIN – 9-3
Saturday, April 17, 2021 @ UC Davis: LOSS – 7-9
Saturday, April 17, 2021 @ UC Davis: WIN – 2-1
Sunday, April 18, 2021 @ UC Davis: WIN – 7-6
Season to date stats
Overall Record: 15-16
Conference Record: 8-4
Streak: Won 2
Last 10: 7-3
Runs Scored: 167
Home Runs: 14
Team Batting Avg: .273
On-Base %: .366
Slugging %: .382
Extra base hits: 76
Total bases: 398
Hit by pitch: 34
Stolen Bases: 17
Fielding %: .973
Double Plays turned: 16
Passed Balls: 2
Stolen Bases allowed: 13
Team ERA: 5.51
Batting average against: .270
Hits allowed: 284
Total Runs Allowed: 175
Walks Issued: 89
Ks per 9 innings: 7.44
Home runs allowed: 29
Titans of the Week
Winners chosen via Twitter poll
Pitcher of the Week
Landon Anderson: 4 IP – 0H – 0ER – 1BB – 5Ks (S)
Tanner Bibee: 7 IP – 5H – 3ER – 0BB – 4Ks (W)
Cameron Repetti: 3.2 IP – 6H – 1ER – 2BB – 2Ks (W) (S)
Vote on the #CalStateOmaha pitcher of the week*@landon12_: 4 IP – 0H – 0ER – 1BB – 5Ks (S)@TBibee28: 7 IP – 5H – 3ER – 0BB – 4Ks (W)@michaelkn0rr: 8 IP – 5H – 1ER – 0BB – 5Ks (W)@RepettiCameron: 3.2 IP – 6H – 1ER – 2BB – 2Ks (W & S)
*Winners announced in Thursday Thoughts
— Cal State Omaha (@CalStateOmaha) April 20, 2021
Batter of the Week
Brendan Bobo: 5/13 – .385 – 1R – 3RBI – 0BB – 1K – 2HR
Jason Brandow: 5/17 – .294 – 2R – 3RBI – 2BB – 1K – 0HR
Josh Urps: 5/14 – .357 – 3R – 2RBI – 1BB – 2K – 0HR
Vote on the #CalStateOmaha batter of the week@brendan_bobo: 5/13 – .385 – 1R – 3RBI – 0BB – 1K – 2HR@_jasonbrandow: 5/17 – .294 – 2R – 3RBI – 2BB – 1K – 0HR@deylanpigford: 5/14 – .357 – 3R – 3RBI – 1BB – 0K – 0HR
Josh Urps: 5/14 – .357 – 3R – 2RBI – 1BB – 2K – 0HR#TusksUp
— Cal State Omaha (@CalStateOmaha) April 20, 2021
Freshman Brendan Bobo’s two home runs this weekend up at UC Davis gave him the team lead with three on the season. Prior to the two Bobo bombs, Jason Brandow was leading the Titans in homers with two.
Brendan Bobo batted .385 this past weekend and is close to breaking into the .300 realm for the season. His batting average is at .296 and another solid weekend vs. Cal State Northridge and the freshman from Santa Cruz could get over that .300 hump.
Bobo’s strong performance at the plate looks to have solidified his place in the Designated Hitter spot. A left handed hitter with power in the DH spot is something Head Coach Rick Vanderhook loves and Bobo could find himself there for the remainder of the season if he continues with his hot bat.
Welcome to the Party Michael Knorr
Michael Knorr was voted the Cal State Omaha Pitcher of the Week for a good reason and it wasn’t because friends and family stuffed the online ballot box. Knorr went out at UC Davis and shoved, going eight innings, allowing five hits, one earned run and striking out five UC Davis Aggies. The performance earned him the win, his first of the 2021 season.
The Michael Knorr we saw on Saturday in Davis was the Michael Knorr many Titan Baseball fans have been waiting to see. Since his freshman year getting the starting nod for the alumni in the 2019 Alumni Game, Knorr looked poised to be one of those freshmen pitchers to take over a weekend starting spot and stay there for three years.
Knorr’s career stats still need some improvement. Knorr’s 6.52 career ERA is slightly above his 6.30 season ERA. His performance at UC Davis may provide some much needed confidence heading into the stretch run of the Big West Conference slate for the Titans. If Knorr can be a steady and consistent performer on the mound, the Titans will be very tough to beat on the days he takes the hill.
Another Series Win
As Coach Sergio Brown stated above, the Titans have won 11 out of their last 14 games and have been playing better of late. The Titans have either won or equally split their last five series dating back to opening Big West Conference play March 19, 2021. The Titans added another series win against UC Davis and currently are tied with Cal State Bakersfield for third in conference winning percentage. (UC Irvine leads the BWC with a .800 winning percentage followed by UC Santa Barbara with .750.)
Since starting conference play, the Titans weekend series have resulted in this:
UC Santa Barbara: 2-2
UC Riverside: 3-1
California Baptist: 2-1
UC Davis: 3-1
In order to catch up to UC Irvine and UC Santa Barbara, the Titans will need to maintain their hot streak and get even hotter or both the Anteaters and Gauchos will need to cool off and start losing more games. The good news is that UC Irvine and UC Santa Barbara have yet to play each other and Titan fans should root that they both split the weekend series two games apiece.
The Titans do control their own destiny when it come to UC Irvine by virtue they face the Anteaters in the final weekend series of the 2021 season. A sweep over UC Irvine would do wonders for the Titans chances of winning the Big West Conference title and assuredly lock down a post-season berth. Speaking of sweeps, that brings us to our next point…
Titans still looking for a sweep
Ever since the series with UC Riverside when the Titans jumped out and won the first two games, the Titans have been looking for that coveted sweep. Unfortunately, they have failed to break out the brooms in 2021.
The Titans were on the cusp of getting a sweep vs. CBU after winning Friday and Saturday but lost 9-7 to the Lancers on Sunday. This past weekend vs. UC Davis, many thought the potential for a sweep was highest since the Aggies currently hold down the last spot in the Big West standings. The hopes of a sweep at Davis were blown up in Game 1 of the Saturday double-header when the Titans dropped another 9-7 loss.
Could the Titans first sweep of 2021 come this weekend? It’s possible. Despite the optimism of Dave Serrano taking over the top spot of Matadors’ program, they have not performed up to the expectations. Northridge currently has a Big West record of 7-13 and the fact that the Matadors have opted to not play non-conference games, that is also their overall record.
No matter how you slice it or how far Titan Baseball fans look down the schedule, a handful of sweeps could help the Titans chances of going back to the NCAA Regionals in 2021. Winning weekend series three games to one is nice but that additional game helps not only in the conference standings but in player confident as well.
UC Davis Live-Stream
If anyone reading this finds us complaining about the Cal State Fullerton live-stream again, we give you permission to slap us the next time you see us. The improvement made to the Titan Baseball broadcast are light years ahead of UC Davis which is one of the worst we have seen in recent memory. (Stanford’s live-stream in 2020 was awful as well.)
Which aspect of the UC Davis live-stream was more ugly?
- The single, stationary camera behind home plate
- The two announcers
- Saturday’s lack of announcers
- Sunday’s audio quality
- All of the above
As you can see from the screenshot above, there was only one camera and it looked like it was affixed to a water tower in Stockton. The players looked like ants scampering around and viewers could not even tell the numbers on jerseys of the players at the plate. Viewers had to hope the announcers were not talking at the exact moment the PA announcer announced the batter or you would not have know who was coming to bat.
Speaking of the play-by-play and color commentators, where did they find these guys? They sounded like Journalism or Broadcasting majors trying to cut their teeth in the electronic sandbox of college baseball. Here’s the problem…. UC Davis doesn’t offer a Journalism of Broadcasting major. The two “broadcasters” had little knowledge of college baseball and were more interested in sharing pop culture references with each other trying to be funny rather than commenting on the actual game. It appeared they did zero research on the Titans before they arrived at the stadium, frequently mispronounced player names and had zero knowledge of the rich tradition and history of Titan Baseball. We understand a hometown broadcast team is not supposed to know too much about the visitors but at least know the Titans have won four National Championships. One seemed surprised when that was mentioned. Another time, both guys did not know where Fullerton was located in California. One thought Fullerton was in central California and probably mistook it for Fresno. College baseball knowledge is one thing but basic geography is another.
Sticking with the announcers, Sunday’s broadcast featured one of the guys sounding as though he was broadcasting from the International Space Station. We were expecting to hear static cracking and then “over” each time he stopped talking. He was either calling in from a cell phone for some reason but it sounded as though he were on a walkie-talkie. Were the tin cans on a string not available?
On Saturday, the announcers were apparently unavailable because the double header live-streams featured the lone camera and ambient sound of the stadium. After suffering through Friday’s game listening to the hometown announcers, you would think the ambient sound would be welcomed. Sadly, we were wrong again.
The camera on the press box picked up the sounds of the stadium and featured most prominently a female UC Davis fan that was quite vocal positioned directly under the microphone. Hearing this woman shriek every time UC Davis did something positive was beyond annoying. She also master the use of the word “Sh*t!” every time a Titan player got a hit or an Aggie player was thrown out. The major dilemma came when deciding to watch the game on mute but that would mean the camera being so far away means we would not be able to know who was at-bat because we could not read the numbers.
The whole broadcast was ugly and we are hoping the CSUN live-stream is better. Ross Porter, former paly-by-play announcer for the Los Angeles Dodgers from 1977-2004 has been announcing CSUN games as of late. Let’s hope he is back in the booth in 2021 for this weekend’s series. Which leads us to our next topic…
The Titans head north to the San Fernando Valley for a four-game Big West Conference series vs. Cal State Northridge. We mentioned that Head Coach Dave Serrano who was an assistant on the 2004 National Championship team and eventually the Titans head coach from 2008-2011, now holds the top spot at CSUN. We also mentioned that the Matadors had high expectations coming into 2021 but have not lived up to them as of yet. Could the Matadors break out this weekend vs. the Titans? Let’s hope not.
Despite Cal State Northridge’s struggles, the Matadors do have two hitters that can do damage. Kai Moody is batting .390 on the season and has driven in 12 runs while redshirt senior Jose Ruiz is batting .323.
The CSUN pitching staff does not invoke fear in opponents sporting a 7.71 ERA. Add to it that all four games are in Northridge during the day and balls could be flying out of the park in the expected heat. We may not see four home runs in a game by the same batter like we saw in 2017 when Scott Hurst did it, but Titans fans can hope it’s a Titan and not a Matador.
Titan Athletics has yet to release the probable starters but it is safe to assume Tanner Bibee will get the ball on Friday. Kyle Luckham looks to be the Sunday guy while the recent pitching performance by Michael Knorr may have earned him a start on one of the Saturday double header games. Maybe Peyton Jones may get a start or Jake Vargas or Ryan Hare could get the ball on the other Saturday game.
Times listed are Pacific time:
April 23, 2021 (Friday) @ CSUN – 3:00 PM
April 24, 2021 (Saturday) @ CSUN – 11:00 AM
April 24, 2021 (Saturday) @ CSUN – 2:00 PM
April 25, 2021 (Sunday) @ CSUN – 1:00 PM