Thursday Thoughts: UCSB Series & USC Mid-Week

The Titans opened up Big West Conference play with the UC Santa Barbara Gauchos, one of the teams picked to finish at the top of the standings. Entering conference play with a record of 4-11, many Titans braced themselves for the Gauchos to sweep the Titans at Caesar Uyesaka Stadium. Surprisingly, the Titans were able to salvage a split up at Santa Barbara winning on Sunday. Many Titans fans felt that the Gauchos lost the game by committing two crucial errors in the ninth inning, rather than the Titans winning it outright.

No matter how you slice it, the Titans are 1-2 in conference play heading into the weekend to host UC Riverside. With the Highlanders looming on the horizon, let’s jump right into Thursday Thoughts coming out the UCSB series and the USC mid-week game.

The Results

Friday, March 18, 2022 at UCSB: LOSS – 1-3
Saturday, March 19, 2022 at UCSB: LOSS – 2-7
Sunday, March 20, 2022 at UCSB: WIN – 7-6
Tuesday, March 22, 2022 at USC: LOSS – 10-11

Season to date stats

Overall Record: 5-14
Conference Record: 1-2
Streak: LOST 1
Last 10: 3-7

Offense

Runs Scored: 92
Hits: 179
Doubles: 25
Triples: 5
Home Runs: 11
RBI: 77
Team Batting Avg: .264
On-Base %: .339
Slugging %: .365
Walks: 69
Extra base hits: 41
Total bases: 247
Hit by pitch: 11
Stolen Bases: 10
Strikeouts: 167

Defense

Errors: 25
Fielding %: .966
Double Plays turned: 9
Passed Balls: 4
Stolen Bases allowed: 17

Pitching

Team ERA: 6.16
Batting average against: .288
Hits allowed: 198
Total Runs Allowed: 129
Walks Issued: 71
Strikeouts: 163
Ks per 9 innings: 8.58
Home runs allowed: 17

Titans of the Week

Winners chosen via Twitter poll

Pitcher of the Week


Cameron Repetti: 6.2IP – 3H – 2ER – 3BB – 4K – 1HR – 2.70 ERA

Also considered:
Izeah Muniz: 1IP – 0H – 0ER – 0BB – 2K – 0.00 ERA
Jake Vargas: 1.1IP – 0H – 0ER – 1BB – 0K – 0.00 ERA
Michael Weisberg: 2.2IP – 3H – 1ER- 2BB – 2K – 3.38 ERA (S)

Batter of the Week


Brendan Bobo: 5\16 – .313 – 2R – 7RBI – 1BB – 9K – 2HR

Also considered:
Caden Connor: 6\16 – .375 – 4R – 2RBI – 4BB – 1K
Jack Haley: 5\10 – .500 – 3R – 1RBI – 0BB – 3K
Zach Lew: 4\10 – .400 – 1R – 0RBI – 3BB – 0K

The Good

Series Split

It wasn’t pretty but a win is a win.

After losing both the Friday and Saturday contests with UC Santa Barbara, the Titans escaped with a win on Sunday and secured a series split with the Gauchos. Capitalizing on two errors in the top of the ninth inning, the Titans plated three runs in the final frame to take the 7-6 lead.

Flame throwing Michael Weisberg got the ball to start the ninth and did not disappoint. The Ice Man got Broc Mortenson to ground out, Nick Vogt lined out and punched out Kyle Johnson on a swinging strike out. 1-2-3 and the Titans stole a conference win on the road.

Some may say that UCSB lost that game because of the two errors rather than the Titans winning it. No matter how you look at it, the fact remains the Titans sit 1-2 in the Big West Conference standings heading into this weekend’s three-game series with UC Riverside. More on that in the “Looking Ahead” segment.

Two for Tuesday B💣B💣 B💣MBS

Every time Jason Brandow stepped to the plate at Santa Barbara, the play-by-play guy could not stop mentioned that he had three home runs on the season. Mr. Brandow, you now have company because Brendan Bobo launched not one, but two home runs in the Tuesday game vs. USC.

First one appeared to be a no-doubter despite the center fielder running to the wall. You can see on the video the ball does not even drop into the screen after leaving the yard. That one came in the third inning, but Bobo was not done.

You heard the announcer say both home runs had an exit velocity of over 100 MPH. By adding two on Tuesday, Bobo now sits tied with Brandow at three apiece. Of the 11 home runs on the year by the Titans, Bobo and Brandow own more than 50% of them. The other Titans with homers on the season include Caden Connor, JJ Cruz, Jackson Lyon, Nate Nankill and Austin Schell with one a piece.

Hopefully the Titans can increase that home run total this weekend with UC Riverside coming into Goodwin Field.

Cameron Repetti
Cameron Repetti appears to have returned to the bullpen after a few weekend starts in the beginning of the 2022 season.

Reliever Repetti

Cameron Repetti opened the season as the Friday night starter, but it looks as though he has found his groove as a reliever. Repetti moved to the bullpen with his first relief appearance vs. Loyola Marymount on March 12th.

Repetti’s arm came into games late last season, utilized more as a closer in 2021. This season in relief, Repetti looks like he is the guy to come in and stop the bleeding when the starter gets into trouble.

At University of San Diego, Repetti came in relief of Josh Howitt and no thanks to some defensive errors behind him, Repetti got out of the inning unscathed.

On Friday at Santa Barbara, once Tyler Stultz gave up two home runs in the fifth inning and with two outs and runners at first and third, Dietrich went to Repetti. UC Santa Barbara’s best player, Jordan Sprinkle, was waiting for Repetti on deck. Sprinkle promptly struck out swinging and left two men on base in his wake. Repetti then faced eight batters over the course of the sixth and seventh innings with only two reaching base but none scored.

On Sunday, Repetti again came out of the bullpen first in relief, this time for Timmy Josten in the third inning. Repetti gave up a single and a walk but got the final two outs of the inning with minimal damage. Three up and three down in the fourth and fifth innings and finished the sixth giving up a single, throwing a wild pitch but getting a fly out, a pop out and a swinging strike out to end the inning.

Unfortunately, on Tuesday vs. USC, Repetti was called upon late in the game with the Titans leading 10-8. Repetti hit the first Trojan batter, Adrian Colon-Rosado, to start the eighth inning. Next batter up, Garret Guillemette got a hold of a 0-2 slider that didn’t break and deposited it over the left field fence. Repetti induced a fly out from Trevor Halsema, but Jason Dietrich promptly pulled Repetti.

Maybe it was fatigue after throwing 54 pitches on Sunday and prior to that 27 pitches on Friday that lead to the poor outing on Tuesday. With only a day’s rest before going to USC, it might have been a bit ambitious to throw in a third game in five days.

All in all, look for Repetti to continue to come out of the bullpen this weekend. If he throws on Friday and then on Sunday, he could possibly throw again during the mid-week because the Titans host San Jose State on Wednesday, giving his right arm two days off if he throws Sunday.

Streaker Update

Last week we told you about three Titans who have moderate on-base or hit streaks going currently. Glad to report that some of those streaks continued through the UC Santa Barbara series.

Zach Lew entered the weekend with an 11 game on-base streak. He extended that streak with a hit on Friday, a hit on Saturday and two hits on Sunday. He did not play vs. USC getting a much needed day of rest and his on-base streak remains intact.

Although this on-base streak is not coming close to Hank LoForte‘s 2019 on-base streak of 64 consecutive games, it is fun to keep track. Lew batted .400 for the weekend and should get some good chances this weekend vs. UC Riverside.

Nate Nankil extended his on-base streak to seven games after getting a hit on Friday night vs. UCSB. That streak ended Saturday after Nankil went 0-for-4 on the day. Nankil did get hit by a pitch on Sunday that could have restarted his on-base streak but only saw one at-bat vs. USC and did not reach base safely.

Brendan Bobo had a five game hit streak entering Friday that extended to seven games after Friday and Saturday. Bobo failed to get a hit on Sunday, ending his hit streak but did walk once, converting his seven game hit streak into an eight game on-base streak.

The two home runs Bobo dropped over the wall at USC’s Rod Dedeaux Field were more than enough to extend the on-base streak to nine games.

The Bad

Where’s Carter?

Outfielder Carter White played in every game this season until the Pepperdine series. His last game he played in came on March 1st, a pinch hitting appearance vs. Kansas State. White struck out in the bottom of the eighth and the Titans ended up winning that game so there was no chance of another plate appearance later in the game.

Since that time, White has been missing and has not played in 12 games. We’re assuming it must be due to injury seeing how White was batting .273 and has yet to commit an error this season before going missing. You don’t bench guys that are playing well.

Here’s hoping that whatever is keeping White out of the line-up is short lived and he can return soon. Which leads us to the next bad thing…

Harvey Done

We were going to put both Jake Harvey and White on the milk carton but after a quick check of Instagram before going to bed last night, we found the accompanying photo appearing on Harvey’s Instagram story.
Jake Harvey Instagram shoulder
Outside of the optimistic comment, “bump in the road“, it appears Harvey is showing off new bandages received from shoulder surgery. This helps explain why Titan fans have only seen Harvey in four games this season, three vs. Gonzaga and the one vs. Kansas State. In those four games, Harvey got one hit in 10 at-bats.

Keep in mind, this is most likely the same shoulder that Harvey injured vs. USC last season at the end of Tanner Bibee‘s masterful complete game shut-out of the Trojans on March 5, 2021. Harvey missed the next seven games before playing in spurts down the stretch. He also had another seven game stretch from May 8 until May 21 when he missed the UC San Diego and Cal Poly series. Harvey would end up finishing the season playing in the final eight games of the 2021 season.

It’s unknown if this recent surgery stems from the injury sustained at USC last season and just never healed properly or if he aggravated the same shoulder and it was time to get work on the shoulder. No matter what, our amateur medical degree earned on social media thinks that Harvey will be done for the season.

We alluded to the depth of the Titans infield with multiple players showing versatility of playing multiple positions. With Brendan Bobo’s bat coming along, he may become a fixture at third and thus bumping Zach Lew to shortstop or second base. JT Navyac and Jack Haley could see more time at those positions too with JJ Cruz showing up at 1B, 2B and 3B as well. Tristan Gomes has played sparingly but he looks destined to take over for Caden Connor if he plays in the outfield or whenever he eventually leaves the program either via the draft or graduation.

Having the added depth with Harvey would have been nice but with so many interchangeable moving parts in the infield, losing one player should not be a major blow.

The Ugly

Fielding Errors, LOBs & Opponents scoring Double-Digits

The fielding errors have been well documented in each of our Thursday Thoughts columns. Over the course of the season, the Titans average over one error per game. Unfortunately, until the Titans start making it through a weekend series without recording any fielding errors, we’re just going to have to keep pointing it out.

The number of runners the Titans are stranding on the base paths is troubling as well. We understand that not every third out will come with the bases empty but leaving men on base are just missed opportunities that need to be cleaned up. In the three games with UCSB and the one with USC, the Titans stranded a total of 37 runners. We’re not going to nitpick and go through the box scores with a fine toothed comb to see how many were in scoring position but it safe to say there were a lot of missed opportunities.

Lastly, the number of games the Titans have allowed double digit runs to score is staggering. Take a look:

Feb. 20 at Stanford: Loss 11-1
Feb. 25 vs. Gonzaga: Loss 12-3
March 5 vs. Pepperdine: Loss 12-2
March 6 vs. Pepperdine: Loss 12-8
March 15 at San Diego: Loss 11-10
March 22 at USC: Loss 11-10

Of the 14 losses on the season, 43% of them have come when the Titans have given up 10+ runs. Sure, the number of errors that lead to big innings full of crooked numbers are one of the culprits, but the 6.16 team ERA is not helping.

To help put that into perspective, there are 293 NCAA Division 1 baseball programs playing in 2022. The 6.16 team ERA ranks 200th out of 293 D1 programs. For the morbidly curious, Alcorn State has the worst team ERA, clocking in at a robust 20.03.

Now that’s ugly.

Looking Ahead

Dylan Orick
Dylan Orick leads UC Riverside in home runs at this point in the 2022 season with two home runs.
(Photo courtesy of UCR Athletics)

We all know that baseball games are not played on paper but in looking at UC Riverside, the Highlanders should be the magic elixir the Titans have been desperately needing. From top to bottom, UC Riverside is reeling right now sporting a 1-17 record, with their lone win coming March 6 vs. Saint Mary’s at home. The Highlanders 14 losses have come at the hands of Fresno State (3), Washington (1), UCLA (3), Saint Mary’s (3), Portland (3) UNLV (1) and CSU Bakersfield (3).

Although numbers don’t always tell the whole story, the Highlanders have been horrible statistically this season as well. Highlander batters are hitting the ball at a .224 clip while opponents are batting .330 against them. Their pitching is not helping much with a staff ERA coming in at 8.88.

No, that’s not the start of a toll-free phone call. Their team ERA sits at 8.88. Their team WHIP (Walks & Hits per Innings Pitched) sits at 2.02. The real scary stats are the earned runs compared to strike outs. The Highlanders have given up 150 earned runs while only striking out 108 opposing batters.

One statistical category where the Highlanders are just barely worse than the Titans? You guessed it, fielding percentage. The Titans have a .966 fielding percentage while UCR has a .965 fielding percentage.

Individually, the Highlanders only have one batter hitting .300 or better. That’s Andrew Gamez who comes in hitting an even .300. First baseman Joey Nicolai is next closest hitting .295. Dylan Orick has two home runs on the year and leads the team in round trippers.

On the mound, it appears the Highlanders have struggled to find a set of regular weekend starters. They have employed a mix of four arms primarily on the weekends with all of them sporting a 4+ ERA. Zach Jacobs has two appearances, both starts and holds a 4.15 ERA. Tyler Frazier has started five games and his ERA sits at 5.95. The other starter could be Eric Marrujo whose ERA sits just shy of the team ERA (8.88) at 8.41.

The final possibility for the Highlanders to start this weekend includes a familiar face for Titans fans. Joey Magrisi was a Titan from 2019 and through the COVID-19 shortened 2020 seasons. He then transferred to Palomar College in San Diego but never threw a ball there. He transferred again to College of Southern Nevada, a.k.a. Bryce Harper U. He committed to play for UC Riverside, and this is his first year out in the 909 area code.

Unfortunately for Magrisi, in six appearances, four of them starts, his 17.40 ERA is the largest on the Highlanders staff while saddled with four losses. Although his numbers may not be impressive, you can bet anything you like, he is probably campaigning to pick up a ball and start against his old team this weekend.

Weekend Probables

Friday, March 25: LHP – Tyler Stultz (1-1, 5.66 ERA) vs. RHP – Tyler Frazier (0-2, 5.95 ERA)
Saturday, March 26: RHP – Christian Rodriguez (0-3, 4.78 ERA) vs. RHP – Eric Marrujo (0-3, 8.41 ERA)
Sunday, March 27: RHP – Timothy Josten (0-0, 8.38, ERA) vs. RHP – Joey Magrisi (0-4, 17.40 ERA)

Times listed are Pacific time:

March 25, 2022 (Friday) vs. UC Riverside – 7:00 PM
March 26, 2022 (Saturday) vs. UC Riverside – 6:00 PM
March 27, 2022 (Sunday) vs. UC Riverside – 1:00 PM

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