Baseball Games of the Week (4/2)

Cal State Fullerton College Baseball Nick Ramirez

Baseball Games of the Week (4/2)


No. 7 Cal State Fullerton at No. 11 UCLA (4/2 6 PM PT)

The Bruins and Titans have met 93 times in their history, with Fullerton leading the all-time series 61-30-2. However, UCLA has won four of the last five meetings.

Cal State Fullerton: The Titans are coming off of a huge weekend, one that saw them sweep Pacific by a 45-8 count over the three games, including a 25-0 shutout Sunday. They come in with a 24-4 record.  Junior outfielder Michael Lorenzen leads the regulars in multiple hitting categories, including average (.365), doubles (seven), triples (three), home runs (five) and RBI (28). The Titans have four players with four doubles, including J.D. Davis, who also has 23 RBI. 

What makes the Titans' start more impressive is that the majority of their pitching staff is freshmen and sophomores, including all three of their weekend starters. Two of the three, Justin Garza and Thomas Eshelman, are true freshmen. Both have six wins apiece in their seven starts. Eshelman has the lowest ERA with a 1.26 and has not walked anyone in 50 innings pitched.  Grahamm Wiest, the sophomore of the three, has five wins and a team-high 43 strikeouts. Along with being the team's top hitter, Lorenzen is the team’s top reliever, racking up eight saves so far.

UCLA:  The Bruins traveled to Tempe over the weekend to play Arizona State in their first Pac-12 road series of the season. The Sun Devils took two of three from UCLA as the Bruins dropped their first series of the year. UCLA has won 14 consecutive midweek games dating back to last season, including 12 in a row over Big West opponents.  Junior Pat Valaika and sophomore Shane Zeile have each been swinging a hot bat lately, with each player currently enjoying an eight-game hitting streak. Zeile is nine for his last 22 (.409 avg.), posting four RBI and scoring four runs in the last six games. Valaika is not far behind, recording ten hits in his last 25 at-bats (.400 avg.) with nine RBI and four runs scored. Valaika leads the team with 24 RBI, two home runs and nine doubles as well. 

David Berg, the team's closer, continues to impress. He has compiled a 3-0 record, 1.30 ERA and converted five saves in 16 appearances. His 30 strikeouts are second on the team, just one behind starter Adam Plutko. Grant Watson has a perfect 5-0 record in his seven starts.


No. 13 Kentucky at No. 16 Louisville (4/2 6 PM ET)

Kentucky: Last week Kentucky (21-6, 6-3 SEC) posted a midweek 8-2 win over Marshall before opening the series with Georgia in a 10-inning thriller on Friday night. UK rallied in the bottom of the 10th inning resulting in a two-out walk from Max Kuhn with the bases loaded to give UK a 3-2 win. On Saturday, Georgia took a 7-3 lead before UK mounted a furious rally that fell short in a 7-6 loss. UK rebounded on Sunday in its third straight rubber-match win in 2013, 5-0, behind a dominating clutch performance from Corey Littrell.  Littrell threw seven scoreless innings, striking out 12 and allowing just three hits. 

Freshman outfielder Kyle Barrett leads the Wildcats with a .364 average, owning three doubles and four RBI. Junior J.T. Riddle has a .359 mark with six doubles, one triple, one homer and 17 RBI, with a 14-4 walk-strikeout ratio and four steals. A.J. Reed has hit .340 with four doubles, two triples, six homers and 28 RBI, with Austin Cousino batting .315 with eight doubles, one triple, four homers, 20 RBI and four stolen bases. Catcher Micheal Thomas has hit .315 with two homers and 18 RBI, with Kuhn owning a .273 average with seven doubles, one triple, one homer and 20 RBI. UK’s all-lefty rotation of Reed (2-3, 2.57 ERA), Jerad Grundy (5-2, 2.15 ERA), and Littrell (4-0, 2.17 ERA) has been dynamic on the weekends. In the bullpen, Trevor Gott (3-0, 1.20 ERA) has seven saves in eight chances, striking out 19 and walking only three in 15 innings.

Louisville:  The Cardinals are coming off a 2-2 week that included a weekend series win over Notre Dame. UL has hit .305 as a team in 2013, slugging .421 and reaching base at a .397 clip, stealing a staggering 79 bases in 102 attempts. On the mound, the Cards have a 2.29 ERA in 248 innings, walking only 77 and striking out 262.  The Cardinals have been led offensively by Ty Young, who has hit .374 with four doubles, four triples, one homer and 29 RBI in 2013, stealing 14 bases. Sutton Whiting has a .367 average with four doubles, three triples, one homer and 19 RBI, stealing ten bases. Cole Sturgeon has a .333 average, driving in 15 runs. Nick Ratajczak has hit .308 with two homers and 14 RBI, while outfielder Adam Engel has a .291 average with a team-high 28 steals.

Junior Jeff Thompson has been among the nation's best pitchers early in 2013 going 5-0 in his first seven starts while allowing only three earned runs in 46.0 innings. Along with the impressive 0.59 ERA, Thompson has 46 strikeouts and just 14 walks while opposing batters are hitting just .150 against the 6-6 righty. Junior right-hander Chad Green has handled the role as the Cardinals' Friday starter solidly through the first six weekends. With a 4-2 record overall, Green has a 2.59 ERA and 25 strikeouts to only six walks in 41.2 innings pitched.