The Stanford baseball team begins double-elimination play in the four-team Fullerton Regional on Friday at 4 p.m. against Kansas State on ESPNU and ESPN3. The complete schedule is available here. The team that survives the Fullerton Regional moves on play the winner of the Chapel Hill Regional in a best-of-three series, with a berth in the College World Series on the line. Leading up to the tournament, I'll be previewing the three other teams in Fullerton. Today, let's take a look at the No. 1 seed and host Cal State Fullerton Titans.
Record: 40-15 RPI: 13
How They Got Here: Fullerton held off UC Irvine to win the Big West regular season title and is making its 20th consecutive postseason appearance. While they failed to capture one of the eight national seeds, the Titans are hosting a Regional for the 10th time since 2000.
Overview: Since losing four straight games in mid-March, including a three-game sweep at LSU, the Titans have lost consecutive games only once. The Titans average 5.5 runs per game, while their pitching staff boasts a 2.85 ERA. Fullerton didn't play Stanford during the regular season for only the second time since 1986, but they dominated the Pac-10 competition they did face, going 8-1 against USC, UCLA, and Washington. Dave Serrano's squad eliminated Stanford from last year's tournament with a 6-5 win at Goodwin Field. The Titans, who are playing with a chip on their shoulder after not earning one of the eight national seeds, open the tournament against Illinois on Friday at 8 p.m. The winner will face the winner of the Stanford-Kansas State game.
Players to Watch:
- Nick Ramirez: After clubbing 16 home runs last year, the junior leads Fullerton with nine homers and 45 RBI this season. (.285/.391/.505). In addition to playing first base, Ramirez is the Titans' closer. He has allowed only 13 hits in 24 innings while striking out 31 and is 16-for-16 in save opportunities. Ramirez is one of 30 finalists for the Golden Spikes Award, given to college baseball's top player.
- Michael Lorenzen:One of four Fullerton regulars batting over .320, the freshman from Anaheim leads the team with a .350 batting average and is tied for the team lead with 19 stolen bases in 26 attempts. The outfielder is reaching base at a .431 clip and slugging .489.
- Tyler Pill: A semifinalist for the Dick Howser Award, which honors the nation's best two-way player, Pill enters the regional batting .324. He's also 6-1 with a 2.08 ERA.
- Noe Ramirez: The junior is 8-3 with a 1.74 ERA and has 91 strikeouts against only 18 walks in 82.2 innings pitched. In addition to his , Ramirez boasts one of the best changeups in college baseball.
Notable: The Titans don't rely on the longball to generate offense. Fullerton hit only 17 home runs as a team this season after hitting no fewer than 28 home runs in every season since 1975.