2023 UCSB SLider

Thursday Thoughts: UCSB & USC Game

27 games in the books and 26 still on the schedule, the Titans are officially in the second half of the 2023 season. Back in January, had someone told you the Cal State Fullerton Titans would be sitting with a 16-11 record and a 9-3 record in conference, would you have believed them?

Given the struggles the program has faced since 2018, no matter how the remainder of the 2023 season shakes out, you can see the turn around happening in real time. In his first year on campus, Jason Dietrich and staff finished 22-33, a .400 winning percentage. That record still was a two-game improvement over the 20-35 record in Rick Vanderhook’s final year at the helm.

In 2023, Deetz has his first full recruiting class along with a year of hitting the transfer portal and the results have been promising thus far. Many pundits are already projecting Cal State Fullerton to make the NCAA post-season tournament for the first time since 2018. Many say that the Big West Conference has improved as a whole and the conference could and should receive at least two bids, with Fullerton receiving one of them.

The Titans have traveled roughly half of the way to the post-season and the second half will determine if the Titans may prove those pundits and prognosticators right. If the Titans can keep winning series, they will not need to rely on an at-large bid from the committee. They will get an automatic berth by way of winning the conference outright.

Join us as we look at the Good, the Bad and the Ugly that was Titan Baseball this past week against UC Santa Barbara and the mid-week game at USC and preview the weekend series at UC Riverside.

The Results

Thursday, April 6, 2023 vs. UC Santa Barbara: LOSS – 14-0
Friday, April 7, 2023 vs. UC Santa Barbara: WIN – 1-8
Saturday, April 8, 2023 vs. UC Santa Barbara: LOSS – 14-10
Tuesday, April 11, 2023 @ USC: LOSS – 3-4

Season to date stats

Overall Record: 16-11
Conference Record: 9-3
Streak: LOST 1
Last 10: 7-3


Runs Scored: 180
Hits: 274
Doubles: 67
Triples: 5
Home Runs: 15
RBI: 163
Team Batting Avg: .285
On-Base %: .379
Slugging %: .411
Walks: 123
Extra base hits: 87
Total bases: 396
Hit by pitch: 32
Stolen Bases: 20
Strikeouts: 228


Errors: 24
Fielding %: .975
Double Plays turned: 19
Passed Balls: 5
Stolen Bases allowed: 9


Team ERA: 5.25
Batting average against: .280
Hits allowed: 271
Total Runs Allowed: 160
Walks Issued: 119
Strikeouts: 263
Ks per 9 innings: 9.66
Home runs allowed: 25

Polls and RPI Tracker

We’ve decided to add a new feature to track, on a weekly basis, where the Titans are ranked in the various college baseball polls and the RPI.


D1Baseball: Not Ranked
Perfect Game: 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: 10


NCAA: 43
Warren Nolan: 43
D1Baseball.com: 45

Titans of the Week

Winners chosen via Twitter poll

Pitcher of the Week

Evan Yates
Evan Yates

Evan Yates: 6IP – 8H – 0ER – 0BB – 7K – 0.00 ERA – 1W
Also considered:
Fynn Chester : 7IP – 5H – 1ER – 0BB – 0K – 1.29 ERA – 1W
Trevor Hinkle: : 3IP – 1H – 0ER – 3BB – 5K – 0.00 ERA – 1S
Seth Tomczak: 5IP – 2H – 1ER – 2BB – 3K – 1.80 ERA

Batter of the Week

Cole Urman
Cole Urman

Cole Urman: 6-for-14 – .430 – 2R – 4RBI – 0BB – 2K
Also considered:
Maddox Latta: 4-for-15 – .270 – 1R – 3RBI – 1BB – 6K
Nate Nankil: 6-for-19 – .320 – 1R – 2RBI – 0BB – 2K
Carter White: 6-for-17 – .350 – 3R – 3RBI – 1BB – 3K

The Good

2023 UCSB Series win
The Titans greet Trevor Hinkle (24) after securing a Sunday win over UCSB to clinch the series.
(Photo courtesy of Hank Tran)

Sixth Series Win

We keep saying it week after week, but it remains notable; The Titans have now won 2+ games every weekend series dating back to March 5th vs. Texas. If the Titans can keep that streak alive and continue to win two out of three of their remaining regular season games, they are almost assured to receive a postseason invite from the NCAA.

Winning two out of three would also give the Titans the head-to-head tie breaker over any other Big West team that could potentially finish the season with an identical conference record.

Winning two out of three the rest of the way, including the weekend series at TCU, would give the Titans a 30 win season regardless of what happens in the mid-week games. A 30 win season is considered the barometer and the demarcation of a good season vs. a below average one.

Hollywood Homers

After struggling against UC Santa Barbara, going 0-for-7 vs. the Gauchos, Jack Haley broke out of that mini-slump by launching a solo home run in the top of the 7th inning vs. USC. The home run marks his first in a Titan uniform and his first as a collegian, including his time while at Oregon.

Haley adds his name to the growing list of Titans who have homered in 2023. Brendan Bobo still leads the team with five round trippers, Nate Nankil with three and Caden Connor, Zach Lew, Moises Guzman, Maddox Latta, Max Ortega, Cole Urman and now Haley with one home run apiece.

George Horton (L) joined Titan Baseball play-by-play voice Mike Martinez (R) in the broadcast booth for the UCSB series.
(Photo courtesy of Fullerton Baseball Twitter / Titan Athletics)

Horton in the Booth

For those unable to view the games live and in person at Goodwin Field, those watching on the ESPN+ stream were treated to former Titan Head Coach George Horton joining Mike Martinez in the broadcast booth.

Horton brought a unique perspective to the broadcast with advanced knowledge on not only the current program and players but the history and tradition of Titan Baseball. As a former player, assistant coach and head coach that went to Omaha and won national championships with the Titans, outside of the late Auggie Garrido, nobody understands Titan Baseball better than George Horton.

His addition to the booth adds so much more and also enhances the viewing experience for those unable to attend the games in person.

If you would like to hear Coach Horton in the booth more, we would suggest letting your opinion be known to those in the Titan Athletics Department. The following people are the ones with the power to make those decisions on which voice we hear in the broadcast booth. We’d encourage you to send an email if you want to see and hear more of Horton.

Jim Donovan – Director of Athletics – [email protected]
Greg Paules – Senior Associate Athletics Director – [email protected]
Timothy Jackson – Assistant Athletics Director of Video, Facility & Events Operations – [email protected]

Trevor Hinkle UCSB Sunday
Trevor Hinkle pitched out of the bullpen on Sunday vs. UCSB for the first time in a Titan uniform.
(Photo courtesy of Hank Tran)

Hinkle out of the bullpen

If you have been reading this column and also listening to the podcasts, we’ve been asking each week how long Trevor Hinkle would continue to get the ball and start on the weekends. We got our answer when Fynn Chester started Game 2 (Hinkle’s typical start day) and Evan Yates started the series finale vs. UCSB.

Hinkle relieved Yates on Sunday after six shutout innings and holding a 5-0 lead. Hinkle not only pitched well in relief but earned the save. Hinkle posted three complete innings, allowed one hit, walked three, struck out five and most importantly, did not allow a run to cross the plate.

We have observed over the first half of the season during Hinkle’s starts, he tended to struggle the second and most definitely the third time through the line-up. By bringing him out of the bullpen, it appears that Jason Dietrich understands this and can help mitigate the urge to have Hinkle go further than three innings and an additional trip through the opposing line-up.

Fynn Chester UCSB Series
Fynn Chester started on Friday vs. UCSB, his first start since the 2022 season finale vs. UC Irvine.
(Photo courtesy of Hank Tran)

Omaha, we have a starting rotation

Although it comes from a small sample size following this weekend, it appears the winning formula for the weekend starting rotation has taken shape.

Despite not having the most spectacular outings the past two Fridays (11.05 ERA in 7.1 innings), Tyler Stultz remains firmly planted as the Friday night starter. Fynn Chester returned to his starter role he held last season and performed lights out on Friday vs. UCSB. Chester went seven complete innings, scattering five hits and one earned run giving way to closer Jojo Ingrassia who finished the game without giving up another run.

Evan Yates in the series finale, pitched what many would argue was his best game as a Titan. Yates went six complete innings, his longest of his college career, allowing 8 hits and seven strike outs and letting up zero runs. His seven strike outs was one shy of his career best 8 Ks vs. UC San Diego May 7, 2021.

Although it is only one weekend, we think it’s fair to say the Stultz – Friday, Chester – Saturday and Yates – Sunday rotation looks like the one to stick with moving forward. Also, Hinkle as the first out of the bullpen on Fridays and Peyton Jones on Sundays could also work out well. The combo of a lefty going to a righty (Stultz to Hinkle) and then righty to a lefty (Yates to Jones) could keep batters uncomfortable and off balance.

Fans are starting to talk post-season plans in 2023 which has not been a topic of conversation since 2018.
(Photo courtesy of Matt Brown)

Optimism for the Regionals

When was the last time Titan Baseball fans could actually speak with confidence about the prospects of going to the post-season? We would argue it has been since 2015.

But wait? Didn’t the Titans go to the Regionals in 2016, Omaha in 2017 and the Super Regionals in 2018? Yes, however, making the NCAA tournament was no gimmie mid-way through the season. (Of course without the assurance of winning the Big West, this season is still not a forgone conclusion.)

Recent History

At this point in the 2016 season, the Titans were 16-11 (the exact same record as now) after 27 games. With conference opponents Long Beach State, Cal Poly, UC Irvine and others, the Titans were not assured they would win the conference.

In 2017, the Titans did not win the Big West Conference, Long Beach State did, winning the automatic bid. The Titans finished 2017 in third place behind Cal Poly but with a strong non-conference schedule and a respectable RPI, the Titans got in on an at-large bid.

2018 caused some butt puckering and sleepless nights for coaches, players and fans alike. Without the RPI numbers in the past, the Titans needed a furious finish to the end to secure the Big West Championship. Starting with the final weekend in April, the Titans ripped off 13 wins in their last 16 games to lock up the conference.

We all know what happened from 2019 – 2022, which we will call “four years of futility”. Failing to win at least 30 games in 2019 and missing the post-season for the first time since 1991, marked the precipitous decline of the program until now.

Could the Titans implode, and all this mid-season optimism blow up in all of our faces? Of course. It’s baseball and there are no guarantees in this game. But it sure is nice to finally have fans talking about the post-season as a possibility rather than the doom and gloom of saying, “maybe next year” before Tax Day.

Streaker Tracker

Frank the Tank Old School
“We’re going streaking!

Let’s check in on the streaks heading into this past weekend’s series and see how those players fared:

  • Carter White entered the UCSB series with an 18 game hitting streak and a 21 game on-base streak. He exited the USC game extending them both to 22 games hitting and 25 games on-base. White gathered hits on Thursday, Saturday and Tuesday and three hits on Friday. White has reached safely either via hit, walk or hit-by-pitch in every game he has played in this season.
  • Jack Haley ended his eight game hits streak and 12 game on-base streak on Thursday vs. UCSB. Unfortunately Haley went oh-fer on the weekend going 0-for-7 vs. the Gauchos. He did manage to get back on track Tuesday vs. USC with a home run going 2-for-2 on the night.
  • Nate Nankil saw his 10 game on-base streak end on Thursday vs. UCSB. He went hitless, did not draw a walk nor did he get hit by a pitch. He did manage to get multiple hits on Friday and Saturday and again on Tuesday vs. USC. With UC Riverside looming and Nankil batting .320 on the season, he could see that multi-hit game streak grow.
  • Caden Connor broke his 11-game on-base streak on Thursday as well. Connor went 0-for-4 with two strike outs on a night when only three Titans (Carter White, Brendan Bobo and Cole Urman) would record a hit.

The Bad

Left to right, Tyler Stultz, Izeah Muniz, Gavin Meyer & Josh Howitt pose on April 1st to show off the team colors for Game 2 vs. Hawai’i.
(Photo courtesy of Fullerton Baseball Twitter / Titan Athletics)

Gavin Meyer Tommy John

We thought it might be an April Fool’s joke, Gavin Meyer posing with Tyler Stultz, Izeah Muniz and Josh Howitt, showing off an arm brace on his right arm. Muniz, who had Tommy John surgery before the season, has been wearing a brace identical to the one Meyer displayed in the photo.

Since this photo was Tweeted out on April 1st, we thought it might be a joke. Unfortunately, it’s not.

The last time Meyer pitched for the Titans came on March 7th vs. Utah. For the 2023 season, Meyer appeared in six games with 6.2 innings pitched and finishes the season with an 0-1 record and a 4.05 ERA.

With Meyer scratched for the remainder of the year, he brings the total number of arms recovering from TJ surgery to three. Christian Rodriguez received the procedure after last season and with a year recovery timetable, C-Rod should sit the remainder of the season. The previously mentioned Muniz had his done before the season started and could be back in time for next season.

We wish Meyer a speedy and safe recovery and hope to see him back in a Titan uniform next season.

The Ugly

14-0 bludgeoning on Thursday

Anytime you lose by two touchdowns in baseball, it’s going to be ugly. Add to it the way in which the Titans lost to UCSB on Thursday, it makes it all the uglier.

On Friday, whispers of UCSB either stealing pitches or the Thursday pitchers tipping their pitches turned from whispers to outright loud conversations. Although UCSB is famous for stealing signs and this came as no surprise to many college baseball fans, the idea of our pitchers tipping off what to expect was unnerving.

We’re not making accusations that the Gauchos were banging trash cans before an off-speed pitch was coming, a la the 2017 Houston Astros. Apparently, the pitchers were unconsciously making a gesture prior to delivering a certain pitch that the coaches and players could pick up on. Whether it was done through film study or discovered during the game, the Gauchos on Thursday put barrels on balls as though they had prior knowledge as to what was coming.

If the Gauchos knew what was coming, that would explain the 14 runs on 16 hits including three home runs. But what can explain the Titans’ anemic performance at the plate?

Gauchos starter Matt Ager looked like Cy Young vs. the Titans and eventually was named the Big West pitcher of the week.

Sadly, the Titans were on their way to getting no-hit by Ager until the bottom of the fourth inning. With two outs, Brendan Bobo roped a triple for the first Titan hit on the night. Cole Urman would hit a double in the fifth and Carter White a single in the eighth for a grand total of three hits on the night.

Thankfully it turned out to be one loss and run differential typically will not factor into RPI standings.

Looking Ahead

UC Riverside baseball Complex

On paper, this weekend’s match-up at UC Riverside has the looks of a potential walk over as the second place Titans travel east on the 91 freeway to visit the UC Riverside Highlanders. UCR enters the weekend winless in Big West Conference play dropping weekend series to Cal Poly, Cal State Northridge and Long Beach State.

As a team, UC Riverside ranks in the bottom two in all three team statistics. The Highlanders rank last in the Big West in team ERA (7.43) and batting average against (.304), second to last in batting average (.256) and tied for second to last in fielding percentage (.965). By contrast, Cal State Fullerton ranks third in fielding percentage (.975), third in batting average (.285) and fifth in ERA (5.25).

Highlanders Offense

Offensively, Anthony McFarland leads the Highlanders at the plate, batting .329 in 79 at-bats. McFarland’s batting average ranks 17th in the Big West while his on-base percentage (.424) ranks 16th. The other UCR batter with significant at-bats hitting above .300 is Jacob Shanks (.302) who is tied for third with three others for triples with three on the season. Shanks also likes to run and has seven stolen bases, also tied for third in the conference. Please note that Shanks has been caught stealing five times which leads the Big West.

Highlanders on the Mound

UC Riverside has struggled to find consistency on the mound this season. UC Riverside has only announced one pitcher for the series; Friday starter Cruz Barrios who carries a 0-1 record and 3.67 ERA into Friday night. Barrios is a redshirt senior with a wealth of experience having played at Riverside City College and then Irvine Valley College before coming to UC Riverside. He has appeared in 13 games in 2023 for the Highlanders with his longest outing coming on March 25th vs. Long Beach State. Barrios went 4 inning in relief that game. Friday marks his first start of the season.

Eric Marrujo has started on a Friday, on the Sunday to open the season but appears to have locked down the Saturday starting spot. Carrying a 7.47 ERA in seven appearances, all starts, he carries a 2-4 record into the Fullerton series. Marrujo did start the Wednesday non-conference game vs. Tarleton State but lasted only one inning. That could have been by design, using the first inning essentially as his bullpen session before the weekend.

Corbin Barker has also started all three weekend slots, most recently the series opener on Thursday vs. Cal Poly. Barker carries a 0-4 record and 7.71 ERA into the weekend. The other Highlander arm that could get a weekend start looks like Tucker Juline. Juline has a 1-3 record and a 3.86 ERA in seven games. He moved from the bullpen to a weekend starting role with the final non-conference series at Lamar University.

Highlander Bullpen

In addition to their starting struggles, the UC Riverside bullpen could be stretched and limited this weekend. The Highlanders played a Tuesday non-conference game vs. crosstown rival Cal Baptist (5-1, L) and used six pitchers in that game. On Wednesday, UCR hosted Tarleton State who is in Riverside to play Cal Baptist this weekend.

Against Tarleton State, the Highlanders threw six more arms in an 8-2 loss to the Texans. The Highlanders only list 18 pitchers on their roster. You do the math if 12 arms have pitched within 48-72 hours of the series opener, how many will be fresh come Friday?


With all the statistical disparities between UC Riverside and Cal State Fullerton, the Titans cannot afford to overlook the Highlanders this weekend. Not only will a loss hurt the overall conference standings but will negatively affect the RPI rankings. Losing to UC Riverside with an RPI of 260 could devastate the chance of gaining an at-large bid into the NCAA postseason tournament. (RPI counts losses to teams with 200+ RPI as a major demerit in their calculations.)

After an emotional weekend series win over UC Santa Barbara, let’s hope the boys didn’t fill up on ham and jellybeans and come out focused with eyes on a sweep starting Friday night. Seeing how the Titans played a mid-week game vs. USC while UCR played Cal Baptist on Tuesday and then Tarleton State on Wednesday, the Titans bullpen should be a bit more rested.

All signs point to a potential Titans sweep this weekend, but the focus must remain on the final goal of getting back to the playoffs after a four year hiatus.

Weekend Probables

Friday, April 14: LHP – Tyler Stultz (3-2, 5.05 ERA) vs. RHP – Cruz Barrios (0-1, 3.67 ERA)
Saturday, April 15: RHP – Fynn Chester (4-0, 2.73 ERA) vs. TBA
Sunday, April 16: RHP – Evan Yates (1-0, 3.95 ERA) vs. TBA

Times listed are Pacific time:
April 14, 2023 (Friday) at UC Riverside – 6:30 PM
April 15, 2023 (Saturday) at UC Riverside – 6:30 PM
April 16, 2023 (Sunday) at UC Riverside – 1:00 PM

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