Resuming Big West Conference play this past weekend after coming off a series loss vs. TCU the previous weekend, Titan Baseball looked to win another weekend series. Unfortunately, the Titans were swept at home and extended their losing streak to six games: the longest of the 2023 season.
Exiting the TCU series, the pundits had Cal State Fullerton penciled into the post-season as a No. 2 seed and projected to win the Big West Conference. After getting swept, the experts still think the Titans will return to the post-season but now project as a No. 3 seed.
If the Titans are not careful, with two weekends series to go, they could go from a shoo-in for the playoff to missing the post-season for the fourth straight full season.
Join us as we look at the Good, the Bad and the Ugly that was Titan Baseball this past week vs. UC San Diego and preview the weekend series vs. Long Beach State.
(First score listed is visiting team score, second number is the home team’s score)
Friday, May 12, 2023 vs. UC San Diego: LOSS – 7-4
Saturday, May 13, 2023 vs. UC San Diego: LOSS – 11-2
Sunday, May 14, 2023 vs. UC San Diego: LOSS – 4-1
Season to date stats
Overall Record: 28-19
Conference Record: 17-7
Streak: Lost 6
Last 10: 4-6
Runs Scored: 290
Home Runs: 30
Team Batting Avg: .269
On-Base %: .370
Slugging %: .396
Extra base hits: 139
Total bases: 642
Hit by pitch: 52
Stolen Bases: 35
Fielding %: .975
Double Plays turned: 40
Passed Balls: 7
Stolen Bases allowed: 23
Team ERA: 5.14
Batting average against: .283
Hits allowed: 476
Total Runs Allowed: 267
Walks Issued: 197
Ks per 9 innings: 8.79
Home runs allowed: 43
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 – 6H – 3ER – 1BB – 5K – 3.86 ERA
Jesse Alfaro: 1IP – 1H – 0ER – 1BB – 1K – 0.00 ERA
Peyton Jones: 1IP – 0H – 0ER – 1BB – 2K – 0.00 ERA
Seth Tomczak: 2.1IP – 1H – 1ER – 3BB – 2K – 3.86 ERA
Vote on this week’s #CalStateOmaha Pitcher of the Week Nominees*:@JesseAlfaro18: 1IP – 1H – 0ER – 1BB – 1K – 0.00 ERA@peytonjonesy: 1IP – 0H – 0ER – 1BB – 2K – 0.00 ERA @SethTomczak: 2.1IP – 1H – 1ER – 3BB – 2K – 3.86 ERA@evan_yates17: 7IP – 6H – 3ER – 1BB – 5K – 3.86 ERA
— Cal State Omaha (@CalStateOmaha) May 16, 2023
Batter of the Week
Max Ortega: 3-for-4 – .750 – 1R – 0 RBI – 0BB – 0K
Caden Connor: 4-for-13 – .310 – 1R – 2RBI – 0BB – 1K – 1HR
Moises Guzman: 3-for-11 – .270 – 0R – 1RBI – 1BB – 6K
Vote on this week’s #CalStateOmaha Batter of the Week Nominees*:@Caden_Connor77: 4/13 – .310 – 1R – 2RBI – 0BB – 1K – 1HR@Moi_3131: 3/11 – .270 – 0R – 1RBI – 1BB – 6K@_MaxOrtega_ 3/4 – .750 – 1R – 0 RBI – 0BB – 0K#TusksUp #CalStateOmaha
— Cal State Omaha (@CalStateOmaha) May 16, 2023
Magic Number 5
Despite the Titans losing all three vs. UCSD, their Magic Number dropped from seven to five. How’d that happen? Say thanks to the Long Beach State Dirtbags.
While the Titans were busy losing three straight, the Dirtbags were in essence helping the Titans’ playoff chances by virtue of beating UC Santa Barbara two out of the three games this weekend.
As we pointed out in last week’s Thursday Thoughts, the magic number represents the combination of the team in first place wins to the team in second place losses to determine how soon a team can clinch a playoff berth. In this case it is winning the Big West Conference that comes with an automatic berth into the NCAA Regionals.
If the Titans win the next five out of six games, they can clinch without UC Santa Barbara losing. Should UCSB lose a game or two vs. Cal Poly or at Hawai’i, their next two series, that can only help the Titans.
Just like last week, Titan fans could be scoreboard watching and become Mustang and Rainbow Warrior fans the next two weeks.
Let’s check in on the streaks heading into this past weekend’s series and see how those players fared:
- Caden Connor entered the weekend on a 20 game on-base streak and extended it to 22 games after getting hits in both Friday and Saturday games. The streak ended on Sunday after Connor went 0-for-4 and did not walk nor get hit by a pitch.
- Moises Guzman came into the UCSD series with a 16-game walk streak that also equated to a 16 game on-base streak. Guzman did not walk on Friday, ending his consecutive walk streak but did record a hit in each of the three games this past weekend. Guzman now sits on a 19-game on-base streak.
First Series Getting Swept
If you do not count the double header vs. Michigan back in February, this past weekend was the first time the Titans were swept in a weekend series.
If you recall the Michigan games, the three-game series was contracted to a two-game double header due to inclement weather. Following that series, the Titans have successfully won two out of three weekend series, much less getting swept.
Getting swept the third to last weekend on the season is not the best timeto get swept while fighting for a post season bid for the first time in five years.
Hot & Cold Stultz
The main thing you want out of your Friday night starter: Consistency. Unfortunately, Tyler Stultz has been the model of inconsistency this season.
Game by game, it looks as though Stultz has a magnificent game and then puts in a clunker followed up by a masterful performance. This past Friday vs. UCSD, tally another clunker on the board. (5.2 IP – 9 H – 5 ER – 1 BB – 7 K – 7.94 ERA)
Look at the individual game ERAs for Stultz this season:
- Feb. 17 – Stanford: 1.80
- Feb 26 – Michigan: 9.00
- March 3 – Texas: 6.75
- March 11 – Pepperdine: 6.35
- March 17 – UC Irvine: 0.00
- March 24 – UC Davis: 2.25
- March 31 – Hawai’i: 3.60
- April 6 – UC Santa Barbara: 27.00
- April 14 – UC Riverside: 0.00
- April 21 – CSU Bakersfield: 6.43
- April 28 – Cal State Northridge: 10.50
- May 3 – TCU: 1.50
- May 12 – UC San Diego: 7.94
NOTE: Two games (UCI & UCR) where Stultz recorded a 0.00 ERA with two more (UCSB & CSUN) where he registered a double-digit ERA.
If the Titans want to win the Big West, the good Stultz will need to show up the next two Fridays.
Lost 6 Consecutive
The three losses vs. UCSD extended the losing streak to six with a loss to UCLA on Tuesday the previous week and the final two games in Fort Worth at TCU.
Coming into the weekend, the three-game losing streak was the longest of the season. The six-loss streak now becomes the longest of the season. The Titans have had three different two-game losing streaks earlier in the season.
In the Jason Dietrich era spanning this season and last, this six-game losing streak is the longest. Last season the Titans suffered a five-game losing streak, getting swept by Cal Poly and then losing the first two to Long Beach State.
In 2021, the Titans suffered two different eight-game losing streaks along with a six-game losing streak. Those eight-game losing streaks are the longest in Cal State Fullerton Baseball history dating back to 1975 since joining Division 1.
No matter the records or their spot in the standings, the Titans vs. the Dirtbags is always a rivalry those within the college baseball community look forward to seeing. This Friday will mark the 260th meeting between the two programs dating back to 1964.
The Dirtbags own a 28-21 overall record and 12-12 mark in conference play after taking two of three from pre-season favorite UC Santa Barbara this past weekend. (Noted in the decrease in Magic Number for the Titans) The Dirtbags rank seventh in the conference, five games back of first place with six games to play. If the Titans can win at least two of the three games this weekend, they could eliminate Long Beach from winning the Big West.
The Titans own the series advantage 160-99 and 154-82 since the program joined Division 1 in 1975. Many recall the Titans and Dirtbags would play a non-conference and conference series at home and away making the match-up a six-game series per year. That practice was halted following the COVID-19 shortened season.
Long Beach has gotten the best of the Titans recently, owning a 5-2 advantage since Head Coach Eric Valenzuela took over as skipper of the Dirtbags program. The Titans do own the last victory, having won the Sunday contest at Blair Field behind a masterful pitching performance by Fynn Chester.
At the Plate
The offense owns a .267/.352/.427 slash line with 307 runs scored in their 49 games. Of their 452 hits, 155 have gone for extra bases. Their 54 home runs rank second in the Big West.
Jonathon Long leads the Dirtbags team in average, on-base percentage, hits, doubles, home runs, RBI, walks, and total bases. He holds the team-lead of 12 bombs this season along with Catcher Connor Burns.
Burns, widely considered a top catching prospect, has added offense this year to go along with his defensive skills. He holds a .299 season average and .366 on-base percentage and leads the team with a .593 slugging percentage. He also ranks second in average, doubles, triples, and RBI.
On the Bump
The LBSU pitching staff now owns a 4.57 team ERA with a 1.41 WHIP. In 439 innings of work, they have racked up 476 strikeouts compared to 172 walks. In 439 innings this year, they have 476 strikeouts which is good for a 9.8 K/9 second in the conference and 39th in the nation. Their five shutouts this season ranks 12th in the nation.
Friday starter and Gonzaga transfer Nico Zeglin tossed a 99-pitch complete game shutout with 10 strikeouts last weekend vs. UCSB. He allowed just five baserunners, all of which came in the first three innings. After a 1-out walk in the top of the third, he retired the final 20 Gauchos he faced to go the distance. Zeglin went on went on to be named the National Pitcher of the Week by D1Baseball/NCAA as well as the Big West Pitcher of the Week, his second award this season. He currently ranks sixth in the nation in strikeouts (104), 12th in ERA (2.21), 13th in WHIP (1.00), and 26th in hits per nine (6.42).
Jonathan Carlos has been the most reliable arm out of the bullpen for the Dirtbags this season, leading the team in ERA (3.28) among pitchers who have not made a start. Carlos has made seven appearances in Big West games and has thrown 17 innings and posted a 2.65 ERA. Prior to his outing against CSU Bakersfield, he had gone 10 consecutive conference innings without allowing an earned run.
The Friday Nico Zeglin vs. Tyler Stultz match-up on Friday could very well set the tone for the entire weekend. If the good Tyler Stultz shows up (his inconsistency noted above), the Titans could place themselves in a good position with momentum. Let’s not touch on what a bad outing and loss would do.
Despite the Dirtbags sitting in seventh place with an unrealistic shot at winning the conference, they would like nothing more than to spoil the Titans’ chances of returning to the top of the Big West Conference and claiming another conference championship. If the Titans can win it down the stretch, it will be the Titans’ 31st conference championship since joining Division 1.
It may be cliché, but it is cliché for a reason to say, “Throw out the records, It’s a rivalry series!”. The Dirtbags will come into Goodwin Field with an upset on their mind and to continue their recent dominance over the Titans, winning the last five out of seven contests.
Friday, May 19: LHP – Tyler Stultz (6-4, 4.94 ERA) vs. RHP – Nico Zeglin (5-4, 2.62 ERA)
Saturday, May 20: RHP – Fynn Chester (7-2, 3.81 ERA) vs. TBA
Sunday, May 21: RHP – Evan Yates (1-2, 3.72 ERA) vs. TBA
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