With 22 games left, the Titans appear to be in the driver’s seat to return to the NCAA postseason for the first time since 2018. What a long, strange trip it has been from Game 3 of the 2018 Super Regionals until now.
The Titans currently sit nine games above .500, a far cry from the 6-7 record the Titans held heading into the first weekend of Big West Conference play. Since that UC Irvine series, the Titans are 13-4 since St. Patrick’s Day.
Also notable, the 20 wins already in 2023, equals the total win total from the 2021 season prior to Jason Dietrich’s arrival. Even if the Titans suffer a collapse the rest of the way and win just half of their games left on the regular schedule, which will make the season a 32-win season. The last 30+ win season? 2018 when the Titans won 36 games and won the Big West Conference title.
Join us as we look at the Good, the Bad and the Ugly that was Titan Baseball this past week against UC Riverside and the mid-week game vs. LMU and preview the weekend series at UC Riverside.
Friday, April 14, 2023 at UC Riverside: WIN – 3-2
Saturday, April 15, 2023 at UC Riverside: WIN – 13-1
Sunday, April 16, 2023 at UC Riverside: WIN – 5-4
Tuesday, April 18, 2023 vs. Loyola Marymount: WIN – 11-2
Season to date stats
Overall Record: 20-11
Conference Record: 12-3
Streak: Won 4
Last 10: 7-3
Runs Scored: 212
Home Runs: 17
Team Batting Avg: .285
On-Base %: .387
Slugging %: .409
Extra base hits: 96
Total bases: 445
Hit by pitch: 40
Stolen Bases: 25
Fielding %: .974
Double Plays turned: 20
Passed Balls: 5
Stolen Bases allowed: 11
Team ERA: 4.74
Batting average against: .271
Hits allowed: 299
Total Runs Allowed: 169
Walks Issued: 130
Ks per 9 innings: 9.54
Home runs allowed: 26
Polls and RPI Tracker
D1Baseball: Not Ranked
Baseball America: Not Ranked
Collegiate Baseball: 13
NCBWA: Not Ranked
College Baseball Nation: 35
USA Today Coaches Poll: Not Ranked
11.7 Mid-Major Power Rankings: 8
Warren Nolan: 52
Titans of the Week
Winners chosen via Twitter poll
Pitcher of the Week
Fynn Chester : 8IP – 5H – 0ER – 1BB – 8K – 0.00 ERA – 1 W
Jason Blood: 2IP – 1H – 0ER – 1BB – 1K – 0.00 ERA – 1 W
Tyler Stultz: 9IP – 4H – 0ER – 2BB – 5K – 0.00 ERA – 1 W
Evan Yates: 6IP – 4H – 0ER – 3BB – 6K – 0.00 ERA
Vote on this week’s #CalStateOmaha Pitcher of the Week*:@jtblood13: 2IP – 1H – 0ER – 1BB – 1K – 0.00 ERA – 1 W@FynnChester: 8IP – 5H – 0ER – 1BB – 8K – 0.00 ERA – 1 W@Tyler_Stultz5: 9IP – 4H – 0ER – 2BB – 5K – 0.00 ERA – 1 W@evan_yates17: 6IP – 4H – 0ER – 3BB – 6K – 0.00 ERA
— Cal State Omaha (@CalStateOmaha) April 19, 2023
Batter of the Week
Carter White: 7-for-18 – .390 – 7R – 3RBI – 1BB – 1K
JT Navyac: 3-for-8 – .380 – 3R – 2RBI – 0BB – 3K
Cole Urman: 5-for-11 – .450 – 1R – 1RBI – 1BB – 0K
Colby Wallace: 3-for-7 – .430 – 2R – 1RBI – 2BB – 1K
Vote on this week’s #CalStateOmaha Batter of the Week Nominees*:@jtnavyac: 3/8 – .380 – 3R – 2RBI – 0BB – 3K@cole_urman: 5/11 – .450 – 1R – 1RBI – 1BB – 0K
Colby Wallace: 3/7 – .430 – 2R – 1RBI – 2BB – 1K@carter__white: 7/18 – .390 – 7R – 3RBI – 1BB – 1K#TusksUp
— Cal State Omaha (@CalStateOmaha) April 19, 2023
Seventh Series Win
We’ll keep pointing it out as long as the Titans keep winning weekend series. The sweep over UC Riverside marks the seventh straight weekend the Titans have won at least two out of three dating back to the Texas series.
For those not keeping track, the Titans record series wins vs. Texas (2 games), Pepperdine (2 games), UC Irvine (2 games), UC Davis (3 games), Hawai’i (2 games), UC Santa Barbara (2 games) and recently UC Riverside (3 games).
The Titans look to extend that streak to eight straight series, welcoming in Cal State Bakersfield to Goodwin Field starting on Friday, April 21st.
Fynn Chester Big West Pitcher of the Week
Fynn Chester allowed just one unearned run on five hits while striking out eight batters in 8 innings pitched in Cal State Fullerton’s 13-1 victory at UC Riverside on Saturday night, earning a second career Big West Pitcher of the Week award.
All five hits against Chester were singles in a second straight quality start after 10 relief outings. The Canadian did not issue a walk in the contest while throwing 94 pitches and improved to 5-0 on the season. Seven of the eight strikeouts were of the swinging variety.
The second-year Titan who transferred in from Salt Lake Community College turned in three perfect frames, in the second, third and fourth. Chester retired 10 Highlanders in a row between a two-out single in the first and a leadoff infield error in the fifth. With Fullerton up just 5-1 and runners at second and third, the senior right-hander got out of that fifth with a swinging strikeout and first-pitch groundout.
Chester’s first Big West Pitcher of the Week nod came late last season on May 23. Tyler Stultz was an earlier recipient this year on March 20.
Strangely enough, Stultz was not even listed as a potential nominee despite his complete game, four hit, zero earned runs, two walk and five strike out performance on Friday.
Carter White Unselfishness
Carter White’s 24 game hit streak and 27 game on-base streak came to an end on Sunday, going 0-for-3 on the day. So how is that a good thing? We’ll explain:
Carter White has completely bought into the Jason Dietrich style of playing and putting the team ahead of individual stats. His willingness to sacrifice bunt at a critical point in the game proved that.
In the top of the seventh inning and the Titans leading 3-0, JT Navyac singled to lead off the inning. Carter White, making his fourth plate appearance of the day, laid down a great sacrifice bunt to get Navyac to second. (White had three ground outs prior to the sacrifice.) Navyac would eventually come around to score on Nate Nankil’s sacrifice fly to bring the score to 4-0.
UC Riverside evened the game in the bottom of the eighth at 4-4 heading into the ninth. Again, White was asked to be a team player after JT Navyac was hit by a pitch and stood at first base. Again, White laid down a fantastic bunt to advance Navyac into scoring position. The next batter, Moises Guzman roped a double to left center and brought in Navyac for the winning run.
Carter White’s willingness to destroy his own personal hitting and on-base streaks for the potential of the team winning speaks volumes to his character, to the make-up of this team and the coaching staff. Not just White, but many other current Titans exhibit the “old school Titan mettle” of getting hit by pitches or sacrificing themselves to get a man in scoring position that would make Augie Garrido proud.
Weekend starters combine for 0.00 ERA
What a weekend for the weekend starting rotation! All three combined to pitch 23 of the 27 innings at Riverside, all surrendering zero earned runs. Yes, you read that correctly, zero.
Here’s how they stacked up over the weekend:
Friday – Tyler Stultz: 9 IP – 4 H – 0 ER – 2 BB – 5 K – 0.00 ERA – 1 Win
Saturday – Fynn Chester: 8 IP – 5 H – 0 ER – 1 BB – 8 K – 0.00 ERA – 1 Win
Sunday – Evan Yates: 6 IP – 4 H – 0 ER – 3 BB – 6 K – 0.00 ERA – No decision
It’s heart breaking for Yates to not get his second win in as many weekends. Upon exiting after the sixth with a 4-0 lead, Yates appeared in position for the win. The unfortunate circumstances in the bottom of the 8th that led to the Highlanders tying the game, moved Yates from the potential win to a no decision.
Now that the weekend starting rotation seems to have found their three moving forward, the Titans should be a tough out the rest of the way.
UC Riverside Sweep
No matter the records and the RPI rankings, getting a sweep of a conference opponent on the road is never easy. Despite UC Riverside holding a winless conference record, the Titans squeaked out 1-run wins on both Friday and Sunday.
The sweep of UC Riverside makes it two sweeps on the road for the season with Cal State Fullerton sweeping UC Davis in Davis March 24-26.
Zach Lew D
Although it may not show up in the box scores, Zach Lew’s glove work at third base has been sensational. It appears every game he plays, he is making an incredible throw to get a runner at first or makes a great back handed catch to save extra bases.
Lew currently ranks third on the team in errors committed in 2023. But as we mentioned, diving plays or throwing on the money to rob opposing batters from reaching base do not show up in box scores.
Having nothing to do with his glove, but did we mention that Zach Lew hit a grand slam on Saturday vs. UC Riverside? Well, we just did.
Don’t Faulks with Ryan
Ryan Faulks had a tremendous bounce back outing vs. Loyola Marymount on Tuesday. Against the Lions, Faulks threw a perfect third inning, striking out the side, all on swinging strike outs.
Typically, a pitcher striking out the side in an inning of work is not that notable but within the context of Faulks’ outing vs. Hawai’i, it is significant. Here’s why:
On Saturday vs. the Rainbows, Faulks faced two batters, threw eight pitches, all of them balls and walked both batters he faced. Those two base runners would eventually come around to score, hence, giving Faulks an ERA of infinity for the game having not recorded an out.
Coming in against LMU and getting all three batters to strike out swinging and looking foolish while doing it, should hopefully build confidence in the SDSU transfer moving forward.
Let’s check in on the streaks heading into this past weekend’s series and see how those players fared:
- Carter White ended his 24-game hit streak and 27 game on-base streak on Sunday vs. UCR. We mentioned it in detail earlier how his two sacrifice bunts late in the game contributed to his streak ending after five plate appearances. White did record two hits and a walk on Tuesday vs. LMU to start a one-game hit and on-base streak.
- Cole Urman has shown he is not just a defensive catcher lately. Dating back to the Sunday game vs. Hawai’i, Urman currently sits on an eight-game hitting streak. During that eight-game stretch, Urman has hit 12-for-28 for a .429 average.
Maddox Latta and Jojo Ingrassia injuries
It appears that Maddox Latta has some sort of back injury that has kept him from playing in the last three games. On Friday vs. UC Riverside, Latta went 0-for-3 with two walks and a strikeout. Many fans attending Saturday’s game were puzzled as to why Latta was not in the starting line-up. Surely a 0-for-3 performance the night before was not the reason coach Dietrich put a .324 hitter on the bench?
On Sunday, Latta was photographed (above) wearing a back brace in the dugout. As to the extent of the injury, no details were provided. The beneficiary of the injury appears to be JT Navyac who got the Saturday and Sunday starts at Riverside and LMU start at short stop. Regular short stop Jack Haley slid to his left and took over at second for the ailing Latta.
Speaking of undisclosed injuries, it appears closer Jojo Ingrassia was lifted on Sunday at UC Riverside due to an injury concern after 2/3rds of an inning.
In the seventh, Ingrassia was summoned to relieve Evan Yates with a 4-0 lead. After recording an out, Ingrassia then let up two singles and got a strike out looking to make it two outs.
Jacob Badawi came to the plate and Ingrassia threw one ball which brought Jason Dietrich out of the bullpen for a mound visit. Deetz must have seen something amiss with Ingrassia’s mechanics to come out after the lefty delivered one ball off the plate. After the consultation, Dietrich chose to leave Ingrassia on the mound.
The next pitch resulted in a foul ball off the plate area which then brought out Dietrich for a second time. This time, before reaching the mound, Deetz summoned home plate umpire Andrew Burke to join him and trainer Mike Hoang on the mound. Hoang was seen tending to Ingrassia’s left shoulder. Dietrich made the choice to go to Trevor Hinkle out of the bullpen.
As the established closer, Ingrassia was not needed on Tuesday due to leading 11-2 in the late innings. His absence on Tuesday was probably due to giving him some rest along with not needing him because the game was well in hand by the seventh inning.
The major indicator will come this weekend if the Titans are in a close game with Cal State Bakersfield. Should the Titans come down to the final innings leading by one or two runs, if Ingrassia comes out of the bullpen, that will let everyone know if him getting lifted on Sunday was precautionary or was a harbinger of something bigger.
We all hope it is the former.
Sunday 8th Inning
If Ingrassia leaving the mound early was not enough, the eighth inning on Sunday at UC Riverside was downright ugly.
Trevor Hinkle returned to the mound to start the eighth and immediately surrendered three consecutive singles to load the bases. Mason Grace then ripped a bases clearing double to right center that rolled to the wall.
After Sean Mcleod struck out on a failed bunt attempt with two strikes, Tyler Weaver advanced to second on a fielding error by Moises Guzman on a routine fly ball. It appears that Guzman must have lost the ball in the sun, inducing the error.
Hinkle then walked the next batter, Jacob Shanks, to bring up Andrew Gamez with the bases loaded. Gamez reached on fielder’s choice when the Titans could not complete the double play to end the inning. The run from third scored and the Highlanders tied the game in one inning in what took the Titans eight innings to achieve.
To add to the ugliness, the final recorded out went down as a strikeout credited to Hinkle as a swinging strike out. It was ugly because for those watching in person and on the ESPN+ broadcast, Jacob Badawi was called out on strikes because he failed to enter the batter’s box in a timely fashion.
Although the Titans would rally in the ninth and win the game, Sunday’s eighth inning made it a lot closer than it needed to be… especially against a winless team in the Big West with an RPI north of 250.
The weekend series vs. Cal State Bakersfield starts off with a bang on Friday with former Head Coach George Horton honored with his No. 8 being retired. Horton joins Augie Garrido (16) and Bob Caffrey (14) as the only Titans to have their numbers officially retired.
Titan Athletics Department has encouraged all fans wishing to celebrate Coach Horton, to be in their seats at 5:30 for the festivities. We would encourage you to listen to Episode 77 of the 1544 Miles to Omaha Podcast to hear our interview with Horton in advance of his number getting retired.
After all the pomp and circumstance of the Horton number retirement, the Titans host the Roadrunners of Cal State Bakersfield for a three game Big West Conference series. CSUB comes into Goodwin Field with a 14-18 overall record and 5-10 in the Big West.
The Roadrunners were off to a nice start in the beginning of the season, aided undoubtedly by playing teams like St. Thomas and Manhattan before getting swept by Stanford, Ohio State, UC Santa Barbara and UC San Diego. They managed to salvage one win over UC Davis, a team Fullerton swept back in March, and win two of three vs. Hawai’i. The Roadrunners are riding a small winning streak taking the Saturday and Sunday games vs. Cal Poly. CSUB did not have a mid-week contest before coming to Fullerton this weekend.
Roadrunners as a Team
As a team, CSUB ranks ninth out of 11 Big West teams in batting average (.263) while ranking eight out of 11 in team ERA (5.37). Bakersfield ranks dead last in fielding percentage with a .944 after committing 65 errors in 32 games. That comes out to average just over two errors per game.
On the mound, Saturday starter Matt Comnos, a senior from Mission Viejo, carries a 2-2 record and a 3.26 ERA into the weekend. The most reliable arm out of the bullpen appears to be Tally Wright Jr., a junior from Arizona. Wright Jr. has established himself as the go-to arm to come in and eat up innings if the starter gets into trouble. He carries a 1-2 record and 5.17 ERA following the Cal Poly Series.
Friday starter Ryan Verdugo, a sophomore from South El Monte who went to Bishop Amat, is a right hander with a 3-5 record and 5.56 ERA. Although listed as an infielder, Jacob Gutierrez should get the ball on Sunday after his complete game, eight hit, two strike out performance over Cal Poly this past Sunday. Gutierrez has pitched sparingly in 2023, throwing in four games total for a 2-0 record and 2.25 ERA in 20 innings.
Offensively, nobody on the Roadrunners’ roster is hitting above .300 with significant games played or at-bats. Riley Casper leads the team with a .297 average. James Bell is CSUB’s most consistent hitter, pacing the team with 36 hits, 11 doubles, 27 RBIs, and 53 total bases for a .283 average. Matthew Kurata holds a .380 batting average but has played in 23 of the Roadrunners’ 32 games, starting 19 of them.
Cal State Bakersfield enters the weekend with a 240 RPI and ranks ninth in the Big West standings. If Cal State Fullerton wants to remain in the conversation for winning the Big West or returning to the postseason via an at-large bid, getting a sweep over Cal State Bakersfield will bolster that resume. Unfortunately losing to a 200+ RPI team at home does more damage to a team’s RPI than a sweep does to help it.
If the Titans can pull off a successful sweep for the second time in two weekends, they will have a 15-3 record in the Big West with series vs. Cal State Northridge, UC San Diego, Long Beach State and Cal Poly looming.
Friday, April 21: LHP – Tyler Stultz (4-2, 4.14 ERA) vs. RHP – Ryan Verdugo (3-5, 5.56 ERA)
Saturday, April 22: RHP – Fynn Chester (5-0, 2.15 ERA) vs. LHP – Matt Comnos (2-2, 3.26 ERA)
Sunday, April 23: RHP – Evan Yates (1-0, 3.24 ERA) vs. RHP, Jacob Gutierrez (2-0, 2.25 ERA)
Times listed are Pacific time:
April 21, 2023 (Friday) vs. Cal State Bakersfield – 6:00 PM
April 22, 2023 (Saturday) vs. Cal State Bakersfield – 5:00 PM
April 23, 2023 (Sunday) vs. Cal State Bakersfield – 1:00 PM
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