Cal State Fullerton Owns One Game Lead As Stretch Run Begins
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12 BB Release-Week 13
Cal State Fullerton holds a slim one-game lead on Long Beach State in the Big West baseball standings with nine contests left to play. The Titans travel to UC Santa Barbara while the Dirtbags trek to UC Davis this week.
AROUND THE BIG WEST
Titans Hold One Game Edge
Cal State Fullerton won its fifth straight conference series and second by sweep after a successful foray to Pacific last week. The Titans (30-14, 12-3) emerged with a one game lead over second place Long Beach State (24-21, 11-4), which strayed from Big West play and competed against non-conference foe Loyola Marymount. Nine conference games are left to play for the two title chasers that are jockeying for position prior to the final weekend of Big West action. Anticipation is high for the May 25-27 series at Blair Field when Cal State Fullerton and Long Beach State lock horns.
UC Irvine (27-17, 11-7) remains in the hunt for the championship but needs help in the form of late season slumps from the Titans and Dirtbags. The Anteaters have a favorable schedule on paper with their final two Big West series on the road against sixth place Cal State Northridge and seventh place UC Davis, respectively.
Cal Poly (27-19, 10-8) and UC Santa Barbara (23-22, 9-9) are clinging to outside hopes at a title shot. The Gauchos have an opportunity to make some noise this weekend when they host Cal State Fullerton.
The Titans continue to play outstanding baseball, having won nine of their last 11 and 16 of their last 21 games.They have captured 10 straight series since losing two out of three at then-No. 1 Florida in the opening weekend of the season. CSF posted a 4-0 record last week to hit the 30-win plateau, the 38th consecutive season the program has reached that benchmark.
In Other Big West Action
While Cal State Fullerton battles UC Santa Barbara, second place Long Beach State heads to UC Davis for a conference duel. The Dirtbags are sizzling hot with 14 wins in their last 19 contests. The recent surge has propelled LBSU to a season-best three games above the .500 mark.
The Dirtbags continue to show a propensity for the one-run game. Incredibly, 26 of their 45 games overall have been decided by one run, including seven of their last 10. After struggling to a 3-8 mark in one-run games early on in the season, Long Beach State has done a much better job of performing in the clutch. The Dirtbags are now 13-13 overall in one-run encounters.
UC Irvine takes a season-best seven-game winning streak into four straight road games this week. The Anteaters face No. 18 San Diego in a single non-conference contest before heading to Cal State Northridge. UCI’s postseason hopes are tied to making a torrid finish, and three midweek non-conference games against ranked opposition are vital. In addition to facing the Toreros on the road, UCI hosts that same club on May 15 and welcomes in No. 11 UCLA on May 22.
Matadors Win League Road Series
Cal State Northridge won the first two games of its set at UC Riverside last week to capture its first Big West road series since 2004. The Matadors also beat the Highlanders in a series for the first time since 2002. CSUN is now 20-23 on the season and needs four more wins to surpass last year’s victory total of 23. The Matadors, who have won eight of their last 13 games, have 10 games left to play. Their next six contests are at the friendly confines of Matador Field.
Lorenzen, Mahle On Olerud Two-Way Player Of Year Watch List
Big West players continue to get national attention as Cal State Fullerton sophomore Michael Lorenzen and UC Santa Barbara freshman Greg Mahle were named to the 2012 John Olerud Two-Way Player of the Year Watch List.
On the heels of his selection to the initial watch list for the Pitcher of the Year and NCBWA Stopper of the Year awards, Lorenzen is up for more recognition as one of the top 20 college baseball players that play a position and pitch for their respective schools.
Lorenzen, a preseason All-American, is the Titans’ everyday center fielder and the team’s closer. He ranks in the Big West top 10 in several offensive categories, including runs scored (33, t-4th), hits (57, t-5th), RBI (31, 3rd), doubles (17, 1st) and stolen bases (12, 2nd). He entered the 2012 season having never pitched at the college level, but has developed into one of the top closers in the nation. Lorenzen leads the Big West and is tied for sixth in the nation with 13 saves. He is 2-0 with a 1.56 ERA and has struck out 16 hitters in 17.1 innings pitched.
Mahle is having a tremendous season in his first year at UC Santa Barbara. At the plate, he is third on the team with a .322 average and 25 RBI. Mahle also has compiled four saves and a 2-3 record with a 3.48 ERA as a reliable reliever. He has fanned 39 batters in 41.1 innings pitched.
The Big West is one of five conferences – the ACC, Big 10 Southland and West Coast are the others – with more than one representative on the list. The award will be presented on June 30 in Lubbock, Texas, as part of the annual College Baseball Night of Champions.
Lee Earns 300th Career Win
Cal Poly’s Larry Lee became the 10th head coach in Big West history to amass 300 wins at one school. He earned win No. 300 on Saturday as the Mustangs defeated UC Davis. He is now 300-252-2 at Cal Poly and leads all active Big West coaches in overall and conference victories.
Crumlich Records 200th Career Hit
UC Irvine senior shortstop D.J. Crumlich struggled in last week’s series against UC Santa Barbara as he hit just 1-for-11, but he reached a career milestone with that one hit. It was his 200th career hit. Crumlich is batting .314 and leads the team in both runs scored (30) and doubles (13). In the UCI career record book, Crumlich is tied for seventh all-time with 130 runs scored. He is just eight runs away from leapfrogging all the way into the No. 4 spot on that list.
Vertigan Continues To Lead
UC Santa Barbara junior center fielder Brett Vertigan consistently has performed as one of the top hitters in the Big West in 2012. The junior college transfer leads the Big West in average (.371), hits (72), triples (7) and stolen bases (17). He is also second in slugging percentage (.515), on base percentage (.446), runs scored (44) and total bases (100). Vertigan is tied with Cal Poly’s Jimmy Allen for the most multi-hit games in the conference with 22. His 23-game hitting streak earlier this season stands as the longest among Big West players. As the current leader in average, Vertigan aims to become the first Gaucho since Bill Geivett in 1985 to win the Big West batting title.