Long Beach State, Cal State Fullerton Share First Place In Big West
Files associated with this release:
12 BB Release-Week 10
Sudden upstart Long Beach State has won a season-high six straight games and occupies first place in the Big West with Cal State Fullerton. The 49ers host UC Irvine while the Titans entertain Cal Poly in two intriguing matchups this week.
AROUND THE BIG WEST
Here Comes Long Beach State
A season-best six-game winning streak and three consecutive series wins in conference play have vaulted Long Beach State into a tie for first place in the Big West with Cal State Fullerton.
The latest success for the 49ers came in last weekend’s three-game set against UC Santa Barbara. Long Beach State won three tightly played games, including two by a single run, and managed to sweep one of the league’s top hitting clubs. It was the first series sweep of a conference opponent for LBSU since doing so against UC Davis during the 2009 season. LBSU also swept UCSB at Blair Field for the first time since 1998.
After several close losses and a rough 6-14 start to the season, Long Beach State has discovered how to win games in the clutch. The 49ers have had more than half of their games – 17 of 33 – decided by one run this season. They struggled mightily in those kinds of games in the early part of the year. In fact, LBSU was 2-9 at one point in one-run contests, losing three straight to No. 12 Oregon, once to No. 10 Arizona State and twice to No. 8 Cal State Fullerton.
With an overall record of 17-18, it’s easy to imagine where Long Beach State might rank had some of those outcomes turned out differently against one of the nation’s toughest schedules. But LBSU has won five of the last six games that have been decided by one run to elevate its record to 7-10 in that situation. A 3-2 win at Wichita State on March 25 sparked the turnaround.
LBSU reaches the midpoint of conference play this week with a home series against a struggling UC Irvine team. The Anteaters have lost five of their last six games and cannot seem to find any offensive rhythm. UCI has scored just 12 runs in that six-game span.
Remember The Titans
Perhaps Long Beach State’s run to the top of the conference standings has been more noticeable since it contrasts with such a poor start. But Cal State Fullerton continues to prove why its program consistently remains at the top of the Big West.
The Titans have won three consecutive series against Cal State Northridge, UC Davis and UC Irvine to grab a share of first place in the Big West standings. CSF leads the Big West in pitching with a stellar 2.86 team earned run average. The offense has produced reasonably well and sits fourth on the conference leaderboard with a .277 average.
Cal State Fullerton has won nine of its last 12 games and has scored at least five runs in each of those wins. The three losses were against opponents – Cal State Northridge, UCLA and UC Irvine – that held the Titan bats at bay and limited that offense to a combined four runs.
In the national polls, the Titans have achieved their highest ranking from Baseball America, sitting at No. 12 for the second straight week. Collegiate Baseball has CSF at No. 14, while the NCBWA and USA Today/ESPN have pegged the Titans No. 18. CSF plays five of its next six games at home, where it is 16-5 at Goodwin Field. The Titans then follow that up with six straight road games and nine of their final 13 away from Goodwin Field. CSF is the only Big West team with a .500 road record (7-7).
In Other Big West Action
Cal State Fullerton hosts a Cal Poly club that has alternated between surges and slumps. The Mustangs went 1-3 last week and lost a conference series to Cal State Northridge to fall into third place in the standings at 5-4. The week prior Cal Poly swept UC Irvine. Two weeks ago the Mustangs lost two of three at home to Long Beach State. The Mustangs are still eight games above .500 at 21-13 and remain in the “others receiving votes” category in the USA Today/ESPN poll.
UC Davis travels to UC Riverside in a meeting between two identical 2-4 conference teams. The Highlanders search for their first series win against a Big West school this season. Their only series victory this year occurred early in March when they took two of three from Sacramento State. The Aggies have already played four one-run games against Big West opponents but lost three of them. Rounding out Big West play is UC Santa Barbara traveling to Pacific. The Gauchos suffered their first series sweep of the season last week to Long Beach State, while the Tigers picked up their first Big West victory.
Lorenzen With A Perfect Dozen
Cal State Fullerton sophomore Michael Lorenzen amassed his Big West leading 12th save in a perfect inning of duty to close out Sunday’s 5-3 win at UC Irvine in front of a nationally televised ESPNU audience. It was his 12th save in 12 opportunities and he lowered his ERA to 0.69. He has allowed just one run all season. The 12 saves move him into a tie for seventh on the CSF single-season list with Chad Cordero (2002). His next save would tie him for fourth with major leaguer Vinnie Pestano (2005 and 2006) and Ted Silva (1994). Cordero, who also spent time in the majors, is No. 3 on the school’s saves chart with the 14 he logged in 2001.
Only two regulars are batting above .300 for UC Riverside, which is tied for last in the Big West with a .257 team average. One of those .300 hitters is senior Vince Gonzalez. Thanks to a string of multi-hit games, Gonzalez is batting .333 (34-for-102). He had two hits in each of UCR’s three games against Cal State Bakersfield last week, and has recorded two of more hits in six of the last eight contests. Gonzalez is tied for fifth in the Big West with 13 multiple hit games.
Hager Extends Scoreless Streak
Freshman Michael Hager is a bright spot for a Pacific pitching staff which ranks last in the Big West with a 5.26 ERA. He scattered eight hits in a career-high tying eight innings pitched and picked up his third win of the season in a 1-0 triumph at UC Davis Sunday. Hager extended his scoreless innings streak to 15 with the effort. In addition, the righty hasn’t walked anyone in 24 consecutive innings, a span of 99 straight batters faced without a free pass.
Haniger Hits 20th Career Homer
Cal Poly junior Mitch Haniger, the reigning Big West Field Player of the Week, notched his 20th career home run on Saturday against Cal State Northridge. It was his seventh bomb of the season, tying his career-high he set in 2010 as a freshman. In addition, Haniger moved into a tie for eighth in the Cal Poly career record book for home runs. He is just one roundtripper shy of sixth place and three away from the No. 4 spot in Cal Poly history.