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Game 1 Preview :: Cal State Fullerton

The Beavers return to action tomorrow in Omaha, so let's take a few minutes to preview the team they will be facing-- the Cal State Fullerton Titans.

The Titans are making their 15th straight postseason appearance. They've been to Omaha 14 times, so they definitely know their way around Rosenblatt. They've won the whole thing four times.

Cal State Fullerton, led by 11th year coach George Horton, is 38-23 on the season. In his eleven year carreer, he's never faced Pat Casey and the Beavers, but he is 10 wins away from 500. The Titans were also somewhat of a "bubble" team, and their fans were also a little uneasy on Selection Monday. Titan fans describe their season as a "roller coaster ride", so the game should be a great matchup between two teams that have had off and on success this year. Fullerton finished fifth in the Big West, with UC Irvine (In the top half of the CWS Bracket) taking second in the conference.

To get to Omaha, the Titans were in the same regional as Top 8 National seed San Diego State. San Diego State went two and out in their own regional, and Cal State Fullerton took care of business to win the regional no problem. While they were winning their regional with margins of victory of around 5, the Beavers were grinding out games in Charlottesville, mostly with Virginia. In the Super Regionals, the Titans took care of the third remaining Pac-10 team, UCLA. CSF won that series in two games, the last win coming by a narrow margin, 2-1.  

As you continue to compare Oregon State and Cal State Fullerton, the similarities become more and more apparent. Both team's conference seasons were under .500-- the Beavers went 10-14, the Titans 10-14 in the Big West. The two team's total batting averages are separated by .002, and the total ERA's of the pitching staffs are separated by .20 points. Last year, the Beavers won the national championship and the Titans tied for third.

Offensively, the Titans are led by junior outfilder Clark Hardman, who leads the team in batting average with .391. Hardman leads the Titans in many offensive categories. He has 102 hits, nearly twice as many as any other player on the team. He's scored 52 times, has 14 doubles, 3 triples, 5 home runs, and has driven in 47. His average is 71 points better than their next best hitter, freshman outfielder Josh Fellhauer. He's hitting.320. Their two hottest hitters at the moment are Clark Hardman and Evan McArthur. Clark is hitting .471 in the last eight games, and Evan is hitting .433 in the last eight.

Another guy we could see is, junior infielder Joel Weeks. He's not a regular starter, but his .319 average is good enough for third best on the team. He's appeared in 24 games, and started 21.

On the hill, the Titans are lead by junior righty Wes Roemer. Wes won many honors last year as a sophomore, but elected to come back to Fullerton to help them make another Omaha run. He's their ace, with a 3.24 ERA in 18 starts and one extra appearance, for a total of 19. Roemer  is 11-6 on the year,  with 7 of those 18 starts being complete games. He's racked up 143 strikeouts, which adds up to nearly 8 K's per start.

At this point, my guess is that the Titans will start Wes Roemer tomorrow. If not, they've got some other talented starters, including their #2 guy, Jeff Kaplan. Kaplan actually has better numbers than Roemer in some categories, including his ERA of 3.16. Kaplan is 11-3 in his 18 starts, and he's thrown two complete games. He's struck out 80, and opponents are hitting  .245 against him.

Fullerton has won five straight, and seven of their last ten. They are ranked as high as 18th by Collegiate Baseball, but they are unranked by the USA Today coach's poll and Ribals.com.

Both teams will put it all on the line tomorrow at Rosenblatt Stadium. I'm not completely sure who is going for CSF, but I can only assume it will be Roemer. For the Beavers, freshman Jorge Reyes is getting the start, and will be relieved by Joe Patterson. That means Mike Stutes will pitch on Monday.

Game time is 6:00 in Omaha-- 4:00 back in the Pacific Northwest.

GO BEAVERS!

--JB--