Taking a look at the Big West

By Eric Sorenson. Posted on February 3rd, 2010 in Big West
 

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The teams in the BWC play some of the best fundamental baseball in the country, but never let it be said that these on-field donnybrooks are anything but pretty. To the winners go the bids. Finish .500 or below and you sit in June.

2009 in a Paragraph:
Maybe it wasn’t a “down” year in the Big West. But since this was the first time in recorded history where Long Beach State didn’t factor into the title chase, only three teams finished with winning conference marks, only four teams got 30+ wins and for the second year in a row the Big West didn’t record a W inside of Rosenblatt, you could see why the BWC seemed to be in pain. But on the flip-side, UC Irvine held the No. 1 position in the polls for a handful of weeks, two teams were national seeds in the NCAAs, Cal Poly didn’t get screwed out of the Big Dance and Fullerton exorcised its one year hiatus from Omaha. Hmmm, looks like there’s no fever, itchiness, signs of a rash or indications of flu-like symptoms. In other words, Big West, we don’t find anything wrong with you in our professional opinion.

Conference RPI: 6

2009 Results:
1- UC Irvine, 22-2
2- Cal State Fullerton, 17-7
3- Cal Poly, 14-10
4- UC Riverside, 12-12
5- UC Santa Barbara, 11-13
5- Long Beach State, 11-13
7- Pacific, 9-15
8- Cal State Northridge, 7-17
9- UC Davis, 5-19

2010 in a Paragraph:
Could be a bounce-back season for a couple of teams, particularly UCSB and Long Beach, who will rely on their usual bevy of J.C. studs. I also like the bounce-back mantra for the BWC to assert itself in Omaha again. The success rate hasn’t been great there in a few years. Hate to be cliche here, but Fullerton will be Fullerton and UCI will hang around the top of the polls again with its beauty pitching and lighter-than-normal schedule. There’s gonna be a big-riser that comes outta nowhere somewhere in the ranks here, you just get that feeling. The Beach? Poly? Riverside? I’ve got this sneaky suspicion Northridge is ready to break out. Just a suspicion. Either way, the Big West can look forward to better days ahead as each team brought in a great recruiting class from the fertile fields of California.

Christian Colon's mantra: 'if the uniform ain't dirty, I ain't playin' hard enough.'

Christian Colon's mantra: 'if the uniform ain't dirty, I ain't playin' hard enough.'

Favorites: UC Irvine, Cal State Fullerton

Contenders: Cal Poly, UC Santa Barbara

Darkhorse: Cal State Northridge

Can’t-Miss Series of the Year: Cal State Fullerton at UC Irvine, April 9-11.

Best Non-Conference Series: TCU at Cal State Fullerton, Feb. 26-28.
Close Second: UCI at Baseball at the Beach, Feb. 25-28. (CCU, NCSU and JMU)

Hot Coach: Mike Gillespie UC Irvine

Hot Seat Coach: Ed Sprague, Pacific

The “You Gotta See” Player: SS Christian Colon, Fullerton

Three Non-Conference Series The Big West Better Not Overlook:
1- Gonzaga at UC Irvine, March 19-21
2- Cal State Fullerton at Arizona, March 5-7
3- Washington at Long Beach State, March 5-7

Three Bold Predictions:
1- When Fullerton and Irvine face off in early April, it will be a No. 1 vs. No. 3 weekend.
2- People will be suspicious of Irvine near the top of the rankings again because of a light schedule.
3- The Big West will leap both Conference USA and the Pac 10 in the conference rankings by the end of the season.

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- CAL POLY (37-21, 14-10)
2009 RPI: 56
Starters Returning: 7
Weekend Starters: 2
Mid-Week Starters: 1
Key Relievers (20+inns.): 3

All Conference Candidates:
C Ross Brayton (.393)
2B Matt Jensen (.375-9-53, Frosh All American)
OF Bobby Crocker (.323-5-24, 10SBs, Frosh All American)
RHP Mason Radeker (6-2, 5.31)
RHP Steven Fischback (5-4, 4.55 in ’08)
RHP D.J. Mauldin (5-5, 4.75)
OF Luke Yoder (.301-9-40, 10SBs)

The Good News:
Finally. The NCAA selection committee didn’t see fit to screw the Mustangs over for an at-large bid to the Big Dance last year. You knew they meant business when they beat Rice twice and then the defending national champs in their first four games of ’09. Another hot start would help build some confidence. All three weekend starters return in Mauldin, Radeke and LHP Matt Leonard (5-3, 7.68) and ’08 starter Fischback will be a huge boost too. The offense is rocked and ready with five .300+ hitters returning from a team that hit .325, including Jensen and Crocker, who had great first years. Hey, looking for a player to cheer for? Check out LHP Frankie Reed. His last appearance was five innings of shutout pitching against national champion Oregon State in March of ’07. He’s back after missing two full years following Tommy John surgery. Go get ‘em Frankie.

The Bad News:
Well the offense does have some major holes to fill still, with .422 hitter Adam Buschini, all-everything whiz Kyle Smith and speed merchant Ryan Lee all hitting the bricks. The team ERA of 5.95 must be reigned in. Hard to believe they made it through Big West play on that kind of pitching. None of the returning starters held their opponents to less than .300 batting average. Aye! Make it stop. Bullpen ace Eric Massingham was leaned on heavily last year and he too is now gone.

Schedule Note:
Four timezones.
From March 5th to March 9th, Poly will play four straight games against teams from four different time zones: vs. Utah Valley, vs. Florida International, vs. Oregon State and vs. Northern Illinois. The first three will be part of the Surprise Tournament in Arizona. The ‘Stangs will also take on USC, San Francisco, Houston and Cal – all at home – in non-conference weekends.

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- CAL STATE FULLERTON (47-16, 17-7)
2009 RPI: 1
Starters Returning: 4
Weekend Starters: 3
Mid-Week Starters: 1
Key Relievers (25+inns.): 3

All Conference Candidates:
SS Christian Colon (.357-8-40, 15SBs, Team USA)
CF Gary Brown (.340, 23SBs)
RHP Daniel Renken (11-3, 2.69, .206OBA)
RHP Noe Ramirez (9-2, 3.33, .227OBA, Frosh All Am.)
RHP Tyler Pill (11-3, 4.06, .247OBA, Frosh All Am.)
LHP/1B Nick Ramirez (3-1, 2.61, 7svs/.287-10-31, Frosh All Am.)
3B Joey Siddons (.371)

The Good News:
Mercy! Where do we begin with these guys? My favorite stat for these guys has to be the meager 161 walks they issued in 569 innings of play last year. That’s freakin’ crazy! The entire rotation comes back to the mound (Renken, Ramirez, Pill) and the three most-used relievers (the other Ramirez, Kyle Mertins, Ryan Ackland). For Fullerton, that’s usually enough. But then throw in the talent and leadership of Colon, Brown and Siddons, and it’s icing on Dave Serrano’s 10-tier cake. No wait, that’s not the icing. I almost forgot to mention that this year’s incoming class was ranked No. 5 by Collegiate Baseball. Greenhorns doing the MLB draft-dodging include RHP Dylan Floro (20th round, Tampa Bay), C Geno Escalante (28th round, Milwaukee), LHP David Hurlbut (35th round, Minnesota), OF Anthony Hutting (38th round, Texas) and quick-as-a-flash OF Ivory Thomas (42nd round, Houston). On top of all that good news, toss in the fact that two high-impact players return after sitting out ’09 in 2B Corey Jones (.302 in 41 starts in ’08, Northwoods Player of the Year in summer ’09) and Carlos Lopez (knee injury in ’09). There are more players worth mention here but I don’t want to make this of War & Peace length, so I’ll stop now.

The Bad News:
Pretty remarkable when the “bad news” for a team is going 0-2 in the College World Series, but here we are. The Titans are a little snakebitten in the O, actually, having now gone just 2-6 in Omaha since the 2004 title team. All-world SS Colon broke his leg during the summer with Team USA, though is expected to be good to go for the season. Losing team leaders like Josh Fellhauer, Jared Clark and Joe Scott is a hit. The catcher position is in flux, though Coach Serrano liked the emerging leadership of senior Billy Marcoe back there. The defense, usually a Titan way-of-life kind of thing, could be the weakness of this team. If the young ones pick things up quickly, the talent for a staunch D is there (and everybody will shrug their shoulders and say, “Eh, typical Fullerton.”)

Schedule Note:
A decidedly western lean.
Usually Fullerton is another one of those get-on-planes and play anyone anywhere type of teams. But this year sees a different look to the pre-Big West slate. They don’t play any teams outside of the west (Keep in mind that TCU is in the Mountain West Conference). They travel to Arizona and Washington for weekenders, along with the SDSU tournament. They also host Hawaii, Arizona State, TCU and the opening weekend of Oregon, Pepperdine and Long Beach. Later on in the season they have a non-conference weekend against Santa Clara. No trips to Tulane, East Carolina, Southern Miss or Rice, like past seasons. Strange. (Guess they’re just saving the travel miles for the trip to LSU in 2011.).

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- CAL STATE NORTHRIDGE (24-32, 7-17)
2009 RPI: 180
Starters Returning: 6
Weekend Starters: 3
Mid-Week Starters: 1
Key Relievers (20+inns.): 3

All Conference Candidates:
3B Ryan Pineda (.294-10-44)
1B Dominic D’Anna (.326-7-32)
RHP Jimmy Jolicoeur (2-4, 4.91)
C Dominic Piazza (J.C. All American)
RHP Paul Tremlin (7-1, 5.48)
RHP Ryan Juarez (7-5, 4.89)

The Good News:
First and foremost, the schedule is much kinder. And that’s huge. But more on that below. The most important factor is that there is experience across the board on this team and are primed for a big move in 2010, especially with the depth on the mound (all three weekend starters back, lots of seniors) and the improved infield they’ll be sporting this spring. Pineda is a big-time talent, J.C. transfer Dominic Piazza is much-ballyhooed to make an immediate impact and RHP Ryan McCarney (1-4, 5.26) returned to campus after being drafted by Tampa Bay. Also, dual-threat talent Drew Muren (.270/3-5, 4.95) returns after sitting out the ’09 season. Additionally, the incoming class was ranked No. 40 in the country by Collegiate Baseball for the second straight year.

The Bad News:
Stuck in a rut. Since winning the BWC and earning a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament in 2002, CSUN has won just 39 Big West games in seven seasons. The ’09 defense struggled too much (.956 fielding) and didn’t back up the improved pitching. That must turn around. Also, there were only three players that hit over .300 last year, and the top two of those are gone. Better sticks needed now. Someone in the bullpen must assert themselves as relief ace Brian Slover (9svs) has moved on.

Schedule Note:
Some bad bracketing here.
CSUN has the unenviable task of having their Big West season bracketed by a visit from UC Irvine for starters and ending with a trip to Fullerton. But unlike recent years, plenty of winnable games in the non-conference as weekenders against the likes of UConn, Seattle and Cal State Bakersfield could help them get over the 24-win plateau they are stuck on.

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- LONG BEACH STATE (25-29, 11-13)
2009 RPI: 116
Starters Returning: 8
Weekend Starters: 2
Mid-Week Starters: 0
Key Relievers (20+inns.): 3

All Conference Candidates:
RHP Jake Thompson (4-7, 5.61, just 13BBs in 85.0inns)
OF T.J. Mittelstaedt (.316-6-46)
1B Steve Tinoco (.343-5-30)
OF Jonathan Jones (.307, 15SBs)
DH Jordan Casas (.308, 22SBs)
SS Devin Lohman (.308, 14SBs)
2B Derek Legg (.304, 11SBs)

The Good News:
Two words: Speed kills. This may be the fastest team in the country this year. The Dirtbags stole 118 bases last year and, judging by the numbers you see above, they don’t plan on slowing down. And that style plays perfectly into the Blair Field confines anyway. Infield should be outstanding and get this team back to its Dirtbag ways. Keep an eye on Miami transfer Joey Terdoslavich, who I saw hit a monster home run at Florida State in ’08 when he played for the Canes. The Beach won’t be down long as the recruiting class was ranked No. 39 in the country by Collegiate Baseball, and features strapping infielder R.J. Santigate (44th round pick, Angels), C Joel Thys, who was coveted by LSU and Virginia as well and OF Juan Avila, a Louisville Slugger 1st team All American. Best news of all? Former pitching coach Troy Buckley returns to campus after a stint with the Pirates of the MLB. His presence will be felt right away.

The Bad News:
That giant thud you felt last May was the Earth being knocked off its axis. Yes, the Dirtbags actually had a losing season. First time for that since 1988. They were 24-20 with three weeks left, but the injury bug bit… no, chomped! Five starters got dinged and the season finished in a tailspin. If the somewhat poor defensive numbers weren’t shocking (.966, not up to Dirtbag standards), then the opponents .303 batting average has to be. That just doesn’t happen around here. Coach Mike Weathers says the bullpen will be the immediate weakness of his team. It will have to grow some of the yearlings as the season goes along, which is always a dicey situation.

Schedule Note:
The usual death march, Dirtbag style.
A young pitching staff trying to find its way could be in for a long road. Here are some of the non-conference teams they’ll try to tame: Pepperdine, UCLA, Arizona, Washington, Wichita State, Hawaii, Oregon State and Stanford. Ouchie-mama! Two of the last three Big West weekends will be against Fullerton and Irvine. Good luck with that.

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- PACIFIC (21-32, 9-15)
2009 RPI: 142
Starters Returning: 7
Weekend Starters: 2
Mid-Week Starters: 2
Key Relievers (20+inns.): 2

All Conference Candidates:
OF Nick Longmire (.385-6-37)
C Joe Oliveira (.327 in ’08)
2B J.B. Brown (.378-7-58)
3B Mike Walker (.345-6-34)
SS Ben Gorang (.285, just 10Es)

The Good News:
Baby steps. But still making steps. The Tigers go from 14 wins in ’08 to 21 wins in ’09 and jumping from 9th place up to 7th place in the Big West standings. They also proved they could play with anyone, having beaten Baylor, San Diego, Houston, Cal Poly, Fullerton (twice) and Cal last season. Five .300+ hitters return from the school-best .322 offense. The defense has the entire infield from last season, which should improve the .966 defense. Three senior arms head the staff, LHP David Rowse (3-2, 3.99), LHP Hunter Carnivale (2-6, 6.68) and LHP Jamie Niley (2-4, 6.93). Oliveira was a Johnny Bench Award candidate before sitting out the ’09 season. His return is huge.

The Bad News:
Obviously the pitching is in some straits here as Joey Centanni and Thomas Berolzheimer were the Friday starter and ace closer and are gone now. In fact, 14 of the teams’ 21 wins have moved on from the mound corps. Eight new pitchers have arrived and all will be counted on at some point. Scott Boras was the guest speaker at the Pacific Baseball Community Night. And yes… I consider that a “bad news” item since I already listed Boras as one of the five worst people in baseball.

Schedule Note:
Saving on flights in these tough economic times.
The Tigers will only leave the state of California once all season when they go to play in the Irish Baseball Classic in San Antonio against Gonzaga, Bradley and Notre Dame. Other than that, it’s a lot of home games (30) and bus rides to Long Beach, Irvine, Bakersfield and San Luis Obispo.

Aggies coach Rex Peters will turn the Davis fortunes around soon.

Aggies coach Rex Peters will turn the Davis fortunes around soon.

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- UC DAVIS (13-42, 5-19)
2009 RPI: 232
Starters Returning: 6
Weekend Starters: 3
Mid-Week Starters: 3
Key Relievers (20+inns.): 3

All Conference Candidate:
3B Justin Schafer (.338)
RHP Tim Busbin (2-1, 4.98)

The Good News:
I know this may be a bit on the modest side, but the youthful Aggies did get much better down the stretch and even went 6-6 in their final three weeks of 2009. Lots of experience comes back to Davis, especially in the pitching department where all three weekend starters are back. Though they were only spot starters, keep an eye on sophomore hurlers Tyler Bremer (0-1, 2.57, .240OBA), Nathan Slater (0-2, 4.40, .243OBA) and Anthony Kupbens (2-1, 4.88, .224), who all had great opponent batting averages and should grow in their second season. Also watch for C Joseph Medeiros, who hit .333 in 19 starts.

The Bad News:
Okay, you knew 2009 would be a tough year with almost zero pitching coming back, but the bottom really fell out more than expected. Going from an NCAA tournament appearance in 2008, their first year of Big West play, to a rock bottom last-place finish in 2009… and without airbags either. As you might expect from a team with just 13 wins, UCD was dead last in the Big West in hitting (.268) and pitching (6.72) and 2nd-to-last in fielding (.962). Losing team leaders like longtime mainstay Ty Kelly and OF Ryan Scoma, who both hit .300+ for multiple seasons, is a big blow.

Schedule Note:
Not crossing a single state border.
It’s as if these guys are wearing one of those parolee ankle collars. See, the good thing about this year’s fairly rigorous slate is that at least the Aggies won’t have to go very far from home, not playing a single game out of state. Nine of the first 11 games are at home and the first time they’ll actually have to leave northern California will be for a series at Fresno State in late March. In all, they’ll head to SoCal five times for weekend tilts. But that’s it for travel.

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- UC IRVINE (45-15, 22-2)
2009 RPI: 16
Starters Returning: 8
Weekend Starters: 3
Mid-Week Starters: 0
Key Relievers (20+inns.): 2

All Conference Candidates:
LHP Daniel Bibona (12-1, 2.63, All Am.)
RHP Christian Bergman (9-3, 3.50)
RHP Eric Pettis (5-2, 3.86, 17svs, 2nd team All Am.)
RHP Crosby Slaught (8-0, 4.62)
2B/3B Casey Stevenson (.346, 2nd team All Big West)
1B Ronnie Shaeffer (.388, All Big West)
C Francis Larson (.309-9-43, All Big West)

The Good News:
What, you don’t think a very senior-laden club makes Mike Gillespie smile? A lot of four-year guys will lead this team, including the biggest off-season news of Friday ace Bibona spurning the bigs (16th round, St. Louis) and coming back to campus for one last go-round. He’ll be joined by other draft dodgers such as Stevenson (38th round, Milwaukee) and INF Brian Hernandez (39th round, Cleveland), who redshirted in ’09 but starred in the Cape Cod League last summer. There is also a hearty round of familiar names that return once again:
- OF Sean Madigan (missed most of ’09, hit .328 in ’08)
- OF Dillon Bell (.274, but hit .326 in ’08)
- INF Jeff Cusick (.298-6-40, hit .363 in ’08)
- OF Cory Olson (.315)
- INF Jordan Leyland (.310, No. 5 pro prospect in West Coast League last summer.)
The defense was very typical of ‘Eater baseball, ranking 9th in the country at .976. Look for more of the same in ’10. Additionally, the incoming class was ranked No. 31 by Collegiate Baseball and features J.C. All Americans OF Christian Ramirez and 3B Drew Hillman. On top of all this, Gillespie was also just recently voted into the ABCA Hall of Fame. Though I’m not sure why he was voted in now ‘coz Hall of Fames are usually for old guys and it doesn’t appear that this dude is even close to slowing down.

The Bad News:
Okay, okay, let’s talk about the 800-pound gorilla in the room for UCI – there’s no more Ben Orloff at SS. He was THE team leader for Irvine for the last few years, the player that Mike Gillespie called “invaluable” to his program. We’ll see how UCI does without its “coach on the field.” Also, beyond Pettis and Kyle Necke (1-4, 4.50), the bullpen had some losses and will need new blood. And do I really need to mention the injury bug that bit the team last season? Nah. The (relatively) weak schedule hurt the ‘Eaters RPI profoundly last season and this year’s slate looks like it could be very similar.

Schedule Note:
I propose a switch in the schedules.
UCI hosts Fullerton in early April? Really? How about if we force the Big West schedule-maker to move the showdown between conference favorites to the final week of the regular season in late May? Please? Besides that, as mentioned above, the UCI slate seems uncharacteristically weak again this season. That was part of the problem with last year’s team, especially with the Big West being slightly down. Irvine has to hope its mates pick things up a bit this year or they may face another harsh NCAA tournament draw.

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- UC RIVERSIDE (33-20, 12-12)
2009 RPI: 77
Starters Returning: 7
Weekend Starters: 0
Mid-Week Starters: 1
Key Relievers (20+inns.): 0

All Conference Candidates:
OF Michael Hur (.372-7-52)
C Robert Brantly (.316-4-23)
RHP Matt Andriese (5-4, 3.93, .257OBA)
OF Tony Nix (.318-4-39, 11SBs)
3B Ryan Goetz (.340-5-45)

The Good News:
A 16-4 start put UCR on the map early last season, including wins over Cal, UCLA, Texas Tech, Oklahoma State and Fullerton in that run. Three of the four returning starters in the infield are seniors and the double-play combo of SS Trevor Hairgrove (.251) and 2B Bryan Horst (.227) returns to keep the .970 defense stout.
The Highlanders may have two huge off-the-beaten-path talents in C Brantly and RHP Andriese, who were the No. 1 and No. 2 ranked prospects in the Northwoods League and West Coast League respectively last summer. Coach Smith preaches discipline, and it showed as his charges only struck out 267 times at the plate and issued just 127 walks on the mound – both lowest in the BWC. The pro draft was relatively kind to the Highlanders as incoming talents like RHP Mitch Petito (40th round, Florida), RHP Donavan Gonzalez (43rd round, Florida) and returning LHP Tommy Mackoul (20th round, Minnesota) all were draft dodgers.

The Bad News:
It seems like UCR got a bit of a raw deal last season. After watching them rout Oklahoma State 7-0 in Palm Springs, it was weird to see them get shafted out of an NCAA bid. But that’s what you get with a down year from the Big West. The arms staff took on lots of losses as all three weekend pitchers have hit the bricks, along with Joe Kelly, the relief ace that accounted for 12 of the teams 13 saves. Many, many new talents must emerge as Dustin Emmons (1-3, 2.80, .211OBA) and Matt Larkins (4-2, 3.86, .258OBA) are the only other flingers beside Andriese coming back.

Schedule Note:
Bad luck of the draw.
The Highlanders drew the short straw in Big West play as they will be the only team in the conference that will have to play roadies at both Fullerton and Irvine this season. Who did they piss off to get this kind of treatment?

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- UC SANTA BARBARA (29-23, 11-13)
2009 RPI: 85
Starters Returning: 5
Weekend Starters: 2
Mid-Week Starters: 1
Key Relievers (20+inns.): 3

All Conference Candidates:
LHP Mario Hollands (6-6, 4.74)
2B Matt Valaika (.343-6-45)
OF Mark Haddow (.298-5-25, 10SBs)

The Good News:
Just to prove this is a program on the uptick, nine Gauchos were drafted last June, a new school record. Three of those draftees are on campus for the 2010 season in Hollands, Valaika and J.C. All American LHP Kevin Gelinas, who was named the No. 4 J.C. prospect by PG Crosschecker. Don’t let the numbers on Hollands fool you, a mid-season injury affected his play in the last half of the season. Same goes with rotation mate RHP Mike Ford (4-5, 6.75), who has a lot of potential considering his 6-4, 2.96 numbers from ’08. In the field, Valaika is joined by senior catcher Marty Mullins (.295, just 2 errors) and OF Gunnar Terhune (.284, 10SBs). OF Mark Haddow (.298-5-25) and Ryan Tregoning (.310) will move to full-time duty and they’ll be joined by incoming prospects like SS Beck Wheeler (a J.C. transfer who played at Pacific as a frosh) and OF Derek Eligio, who can cover a lot of ground.

The Bad News:
Some tough breaks and ill-timed injuries befell the hopes of the Gauchos in 2009, who ended up with just 29 wins. And of course, all those draftees that took off leave some big time talent that needs to be replaced. Three of the top four hitters are gone, as well as 36 of the 55 home runs hit last season. Some new faces will be counted on to improve the .967 defense of a year ago. On the hill, the relief staff struggled most of the season, but does have senior RHP David Meals (3-2, 5.70, 5svs) as the primary closer. The pitchers, in general, need to establish more control after plunking 97 batters a year ago.

Schedule Note:
The 2010 tour of NoCal.
The Gauchos will get some good bus rides in this season as their road trips take them to San Jose State and Stanford in the first two weekends of the season. They will also play weekends up at Sacramento State and Pacific as well. The April stretch of the slate has UCSB going up the coast to Cal Poly, hosting Fullerton and going to Long Beach in a tough three-weeks of the season.

 

COMMENTS:

February 3, 2010 at 4:06 am

Well done Eric!! That was a good review of the BWC. Plus you made one of the boldest picks in choosing Northridge as a dark horse. They have been struggling with some internal things and a few players have left but the do still have 2 strong years of recruiting to replace some of the ship jumpers.

We know Fullerton and Irvine will be contending for national seeds but the middle group should be fun to watch especially with Long Beach and Poly. If Reed and Fischback come back healthy, that team could be scary good with the hitter they have returning. Poly could be right up there with Fullerton and Irvine. The next tier of SB, Riverside and Pacific should be good too. In fact, my pick for dark horse this season is Pacific. Pacific unexpectedly lost some players just before the baseball season when there was some “party related” issues with a few players. Even with this distraction and short handed, Sprague was able to make the team play well including the series win over Fullerton. With a full squad, Pacific will surprise some teams again this year although their OOC games are much weaker than previously.

Last season only 3 teams made the regional because LB, Davis, Pacific and Northridge had horrible RPIs especially Davis and Northridge. That will change this season. All these 2009 bottom teams will play better and the RPIs will show that. Look for a huge jump in RPI for LB (no way they stay in the 100s) and the other 3 teams should be more respectable especially Davis. I think this year BW returns to 4 bids even though the OOC scheduling has weakened.


February 3, 2010 at 9:05 am
FullertonBaseballFan says:

Outstanding work by Eric with this one man project.

DS, the off the field issues at Pacific happened two years ago, not before last season. That had nothing to do with last year. Much credit for the turnaround with their position players should go to assistant coach Dirtbag HOF’er Barbara, who took most of the same players who were mediocre to bad the previous two years and had them hitting and fielding at a much higher level. Now, UOP needs to get to work on the pitching staff.

Siddons will be playing 2B (if his back problems allow him to, if not then Orloff’s younger brother will be) and Jones will be playing 3B for Fullerton. Colon is healthy and played in the alumni game last weekend.

Irvine has 7 starters back. They also lost 1st team all conf 3B/OF Deragisch.

China McCarney is one of the players at Northridge who left the program (he’s listed as one of the returners).

Cal Poly has all three SP’s back (listed as 2 returning), as mentioned in the writeup.

Most of the Big West teams could have RPI issues (especially Irvine when it comes to the national seed discussion) due to the lack of games against teams from outside of the western region due to the economy. The Big West schools don’t have big budgets like major football schools do so travel had to be cut back. That’s why you noticed the lack of diversity in the schedules with most of the opponents on the schedule being a bus ride away.


February 5, 2010 at 6:37 pm
SubwayMustang says:

Well done!

Cal Poly has a decent schedule this season OOC. Look for back-to-back NCAA appearances.
Anybody know of any SOS rankings out yet?


February 6, 2010 at 1:01 pm
go lakers says:

so many of the key players for Northridge were the ones that complained about Rousey to the Athletic Director…hopefully they can channel the anger towards opposing pitchers…