Thursday Thoughts: USC, UCLA & Pepperdine Games

Time for another edition of “Thursday Thoughts” following the Dodger Stadium College Baseball Classic that, ironically, not one game was played at Dodger Stadium. The third weekend of college baseball was not without some strange turns and Titan Baseball was not immune to it.

Let’s jump right into it and offer our thoughts that was the week that was in Titan Baseball that included some good, bad and some ugly.

The Results

Friday, March 5, 2021 @ USC: WIN – 5-0
Saturday, March 6, 2021 @ UCLA: LOSS – 1-6
Sunday, March 7, 2021 vs. USD: LOSS – 10-4
Tuesday, March 9, 2021 vs. UCLA: LOSS – 6-2

Season to date stats

Record: 4-7
Streak: Lost 3
Last 10: 3-7

Offense

Runs Scored: 47
Hits: 89
Doubles: 11
Triples: 5
RBI: 40
Team Batting Avg: .245
On-Base %: .333
Slugging %: .352
Walks: 40
Extra base hits: 22
Total bases: 128
Hit by pitch: 10
Stolen Bases: 3
Home Runs: 6
Strikeouts: 102

Defense

Errors: 14
Fielding %: .965
Double Plays turned: 5
Passed Balls: 1
Stolen Bases allowed: 7

Pitching

Team ERA: 4.63
Batting average against: .242
Hits allowed: 88
Total Runs Allowed: 57
Walks Issued: 38
Strikeouts: 91
Ks per 9 innings: 8.59
Home runs allowed: 9

Titans of the Week

Stats include Tuesday’s UCLA game.

Tanner Bibee Fullerton

Pitcher of the Week

Tanner Bibee: 9.0 IP – 3 H – 0 ER – 0 BB – 5 Ks

Also considered:
Ryan Hare: 3.0 IP – 1 H – 0 ER – 0 BB – 4 Ks
Michael Weisberg: 3.0 IP – 2 H – 2 ER – 1 BB – 5 K
Landon Anderson: 4.0 IP – 1 H – 1 ER – 1 BB – 3 K

Week 1 Winner: Tanner Bibee
Week 2 Winner: Kyle Luckham
Austin Schell Fullerton

Batter of the Week

Austin Schell: 12 AB – ..416 – 2 R – 5 H – 1 RBI – 1 BB – 1 K – 0 HR

Also considered:
Jackson Lyon: 6 AB – .500 – 1 R – 3 H – 2 RBI – 1 BB – 2 Ks – 1 HR
Nate Nankil: 14 AB – .357 – 2 R – 5 H – 4 RBI – 2 BB – 5 K – 0 HR

Week 1 Winner: Jake Harvey
Week 2 Winner: Deylan Pigford

The Good

Tanner Bibee
Tanner Bibee was masterful on Friday vs. USC, tossing a complete game, 3-hit, shutout.
Bibee’s ERA sits at 0.43 on the season with 20Ks in three games.

Tanner Bibee Complete Game Shutout at USC

Tanner Bibee pitched lights out on Friday night throwing a three hit, complete game shut out vs. USC. Bibbe went the full nine innings throwing a total of 88 pitches of which, 61 of them were for strikes. The game lasted two hours and 11 minutes and was reminiscent of a Greg Maddux type game when he was with the Atlanta Braves.

Honestly, this game should have been a one hitter, with the first hit being the only one hit cleanly. The first hit came in the bottom of the fourth inning when Clay Owens singled through the left side.

The second hit came in the bottom of the seventh inning when Jamal O’Guinn scored a hit into right field. Jason Brandow could have gotten to the ball but because he did not get a glove on it, it was recorded as a hit rather than an error.

The third hit came in the bottom of the ninth when Tyresse Turner slapped what would have been the third out to Jake Harvey who injured himself on the play. (More on the Harvey injury in the “ugly” segment.) Had Harvey completed the play, it would have ended the game and Bibee would have had a two-hit shutout. Instead, it went down as a three hitter and Bibee lowered his ERA to a minuscule 0.43.

Bibee on the year has a 2-1 record and has struck out 20 batters while issuing only 2 walks. That’s easy math when it comes to figuring out Bibee’s 10:1 K:BB ratio. In 21 innings, Bibee has given up 12 hits total with his highest hit count coming at USD, when he surrendered eight.

Bibee will look to keep those eye-popping numbers going when he is expected to take the mound Friday vs. Arizona State.

Lyon Garcia on deck circle
Jackson Lyon (L) & Isaiah Garcia (R) seen here in the on-deck circle at USD, added their names to those Titans who have hit home runs in 2021.

More Homers from different Titans

The Titans have hit six home runs in 11 games in 2021. Both Jackson Lyon (vs. USC) and Isaiah Garcia (vs. Pepperdine) added their names to the list of those Titans who have gone over the wall this season.

Garcia and Lyon join Deylan Pigford, Jake Harvey, Jason Brandow and Austin Schell to make up the six Titans to have gone deep.

The only two Titans to have hit homers in 2020 were Miguel Ortiz and Josh Urps before the season was canceled due to the Coronavirus pandemic. The good news is that Urps has yet to hit a bomb this season and may have some in his bat later on down the road. Fans have not seen Miggy Ortiz yet but when he does get inserted into the line-up, he can go yard at any time.

Ryan Hare
Graduate transfer Ryan Hare has a 0.00 ERA in 6 2/3rd innings of relief and has a 5:1 K to BB ratio after three weeks in 2021.

Ryan Hare

Ryan Hare has been terrific on the mound so far in 2021. In four appearances, the graduate transfer from UNLV boasts a 0.00 ERA and has pitched 6 2/3rd innings.

Hare has struck out 10 and issued two walks while surrendering just four hits total. With a 5:1 K:BB ratio along with a 13.50 strikeouts per nine innings stat line, Titan fans should relax when the veteran righty takes the hill.

Although Hare has been inserted into games late, he has not been given too many save opportunities. Of the Titans four wins, Hare only appeared in the win at USD on Sunday, February 28, 2021. Hare pitched the ninth inning at San Diego but the Titans were leading 5-1 and he only faced three batters, thus not qualifying as a save opportunity.

Do not be surprised if Hare moves out of the bullpen and makes a start on the weekends. Timmy Josten only started one weekend game but has not been seen since. Peyton Jones struggled in his first start, facing USD and lasting four innings and surrendering three runs. His next start saw him fail to get out of the first first inning vs. Pepperdine and was pulled after giving up four runs.

Hare, a Tommy John surgery survivor, was the UNLV Friday night starter in 2020 and pitched admirably in four games for the Rebels. It would not be the first time Rick Vanderhook has utilized a bullpen pitcher thought to be a late innings guy and moved him into a starting role. The most recent back-end bullpen dude to make starts was Blake Workman during the 2018 season.

The Bad

Omar Veloz home plate
Omar Veloz attempts to tag USD’s Angelo Peraza at the plate.

Wins come when letting up one or less runs

When you look at the Titans four wins on the season, all of them have come when the Titans have given up a single run or shutout the opposition. We know the Titans calling card for years has been pitching and defense but the pitchers need a bit more run support to know they don’t have to throw no-hitters or if they give up two or more runs, they will be saddled with a loss.

So far in 2021, the Titans have scored 47 runs and the opponents have scored 57 runs. If you remove the 15-1 blowout of Utah in the second game of the season, the run differential is even more stark. We’ll do the math for you:

Titans – 32 runs scored
Opponents – 56 runs scored

The most telling statistic is the runs allowed (3) in wins compared to the runs allowed (54) in losses .

Facts are facts and if you remove Tanner Bibee’s three games where he has given up a total of one earned run in 21 innings of work, the Titan’s staff ERA would be 5.81. That’s more than a full earned run above the staff ERA of 4.63 as it sits right now with Bibee’s stats included.

11 games in the books; Identical record as 2020

For those that always wondered how the 2020 season would’ve played out had the season not been struck down by the Coronavirus, you may not have to wonder. The Titans record of 4-7 after 11 games is identical to the Titans 4-7 record following the 2020 series with University of San Francisco.

And just like in 2020, the Titans play Arizona State in a series after their 11th game. Last year, the ASU series was a mid-week affair played at Goodwin Field. The Sun Devils won both those games and then the Titans traveled to Austin, Texas to take on the University of Texas. That series ended with the Longhorns sweeping the Titans and the college baseball season was shut down due to the COVID-19 global pandemic response.

With trends moving in the right direction of the virus getting under control, it does not look like we’re headed for another shut down and a cancellation of the 2021 season. We can only hope the 2021 season does not continue to trend like 2020 and the Titans are headed for a five game losing streak after their 11th game. With the way Tanner Bibee is pitching on Friday nights, they have a puncher’s chance every time he picks up the ball.
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USC & UCLA live stream issues

It’s bad enough that fans in California can not attend the games at Goodwin Field or any other venue in California for that matter. That said, the live streams out of USC and UCLA have been atrocious.

The USC game kept on cutting in and out. Adding to the pain, there is no archive to go back and try and watch the game. The PAC-12 Network does not have it archived nor does USC Athletics. The only video record the game even occurred exists on a 0:55 highlight reel on YouTube put together by USC. Of course it only highlights the handful of good things USC did in the game. (With Tanner Bibee dominating the Trojans with a three hit shut out, it’s surprising they were able to come up with less than a minute’s worth of footage…)

The UCLA stream was not much better and the technical difficulties appeared to travel to Westwood on Saturday. Of course, no archive of the game is available on UCLA’s website nor the PAC-12 Network.

For universities who charge $75K and $35K per student, you would think they could at the very least slide a few scheckels towards upgrading their live-stream considering fans are not allowed to attend games in person.

The Ugly

Jake Harvey
Jake Harvey suffered an apparent injury to his left arm during the 9th inning of the USC game.

Jake Harvey Injury

Had there been archived game footage of the USC game, we would have directed you to go view the end of the game yourself. But alas, there is none that we can find so you will just have to trust us that second baseman Jake Harvey suffered an injury to his left arm after diving for a ball hit by USC’s Tyresse Turner in the ninth inning. The ball was hit up the middle and as Harvey dove for it, his arm appeared to roll up and underneath him. Harvey was removed from the game and replaced by JJ Cruz. While walking off, Harvey was holding his arm and was not moving it.

Titan fans rushed to the Titan Central Message Board to ask about it and to share their description of what they saw. Many fans speculated Harvey’s injury was a broken hand, wrist or arm. Other speculated that the injury may have been a dislocated shoulder. No matter what the amateur orthopedic doctors online speculated, the injury did not look good to those watching online.

Outside of the ugly aspect of one of the top performing players going down with an injury, unless you saw the injury with your own eyes on the live stream or you went to the message board, you would not know it happened. No mention in the USC game recap and nor in the Titan’s game recap.

Of course we do not expect the USC recap article to mention the Harvey injury. But an injury that looked that severe on the live stream surely should have been acknowledged by Cal State Fullerton? After all, Harvey was a regular starter and was batting lead off in most games. Here at Cal State Omaha, he was named the Batter of the Week following the Utah series. No mention at all that he suffered an injury that appears to keep him sidelined for a few games at the very least?

We understand not speculating on injuries for privacy reasons. HiPAA was created to protect sensitive patient health information from being disclosed without the patient’s consent or knowledge. We also understand not disclosing details of a player injury so as to keep a competitive advantage and not disclose how many games a player is expected to miss. We get all that.

But to those watching, it was clear as day that Harvey hurt his arm, yet it was not even acknowledged that he was injured.

Harvey has now missed three games, UCLA Saturday, Pepperdine Sunday and Tuesday’s UCLA game. The injury is severe enough to have him sit out those three games. Judging by the streaming video, he should miss the weekend series vs. Arizona State. We’re not doctors but without any information go on, all we can do is speculate.

Looking Ahead

Phoenix Municipal Stadium
Titan Baseball hits the road for the first and only trip outside of California. There’s good news and bad news for Titan fans associated with this road trip.

The good news is that the State of Arizona has relaxed their COVID-19 restrictions and are allowing fans into outdoor venues. The bad news is that there still are restrictions and they are limiting capacity at Phoenix Municipal Stadium.

Additional bad news is that all tickets are available through Ticketmaster and you can not just walk up to the box office and buy a ticket. Low supply and after a year’s worth of lock downs combined with Titan fans not able to see the team in person at Goodwin Field, has resulted in high demand. But if you learned anything in Econ 101, high demand and low supply means prices are through the roof.

The ASU Athletics website did state that season ticket holders will get first crack at tickets when fans are permitted in the stands. That appears to have held true since the vast majority of tickets available on Ticketmaster are offered as a “Verified Resale“. That combined with the prices they are asking leads us to believe that ASU Baseball season ticket holders are looking to turn a few extra bucks by selling their seats. Probably the same people that were telling us a year ago, “we’re all in this together” as they pushed a warehouse store sized shopping cart full of toilet paper and bleach wipes to the checkout lane.

If you are willing to make the trip to Phoenix and pay the exorbitant prices asked, you can watch Titan Baseball in person. For those not willing to make the trip or don’t have a small fortune to spend, you can catch the games streaming. Given the Pac-12 member schools track record of streaming games, don’t expect super high quality production value.

Times listed are Pacific time:

March 12, 2021 (Friday) @ ASU – 5:35 PM
March 13, 2021 (Saturday) @ ASU – 1:05 PM
March 14, 2021 (Sunday) @ ASU – 12:35 PM

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