NCAA Baseball Championship: Fullerton Regional Preview
NEW YORK – The 64-team field is now set for the 67th Men’s College World Series and Columbia will begin its journey to Omaha in Fullerton, Calif. Friday night.
Cal State Fullerton, the No. 5 national seed and top seed in the region, will host second-seed Arizona State and third-seed New Mexico, in addition to fourth-seed Columbia. The four-team, double-elimination regional will be played at Goodwin Field on the Cal State Fullerton campus May 31-June 3. Goodwin Field has hosted 10 regionals since 2000, most recently in 2011.
Each game of the regional will be available on ESPN3, with select games available on ESPNU, beginning with the Columbia vs. Cal State Fullerton matchup Friday night. Clay Matvick and Paul Lo Duca will be on the call for the ESPNU broadcast. Columbia will also provide an audio-only broadcast of each game it plays with Lance Medow on the call via GoColumbiaLions.com.
Fans traveling to Fullerton can find ticket information HERE.
FULLERTON REGIONAL SCHEDULE | Fullerton Regional Bracket
Friday, May 31, 2013
Game 1: 7 p.m. EST - New Mexico (37-20) vs. Arizona State (35-20-1) - On ESPN3
Game 2: 11 p.m. EST - Columbia (27-19) at No. 5 Cal State Fullerton (48-8)
Saturday, June 1, 2013
Game 3: 7 p.m. EST - Losers of Game 1 and Game 2
Game 4: 11 p.m. EST - Winners of Game 1 and Game 2
Sunday, June 2, 2013
Game 5: 7 p.m. EST - Winner of Game 3 and Loser of Game 4
Game 6: 11 p.m. EST - Winners of Game 5 and Game 4
Monday, June 3, 2013
*Game 7: 11 p.m. EST - *If necessary
The Lions enter Friday’s opener on a seven-game win streak. Columbia has played just once since capturing the Ivy League title on May 4, defeating Sacred Heart at home on May 20 by a score of 9-2.
Sophomore David Vandercook led the offensive charge against the Pioneers, reaching base safely five times after going 2-for-2 with three walks. Jordan Serena, Joey Falcone and Aaron Silbar all posted two RBI in the contest, with Serena and Vandercook scoring twice. The Columbia pitching staff sent five hurlers to the hill, giving up just seven hits and two runs in the victory.
In addition to the Lions’ current seven-game win streak, Columbia has won 18 of its last 22 ball games, dating back to April 6. Three of the four losses during that span came by less than two runs, with Columbia posting a +67 run differential (120-53).
A key component to the Lions’ late success has been the dominant pitching from the entire staff. As a team, Columbia ranks 57th in the nation with a 3.52 ERA and is 16th with an 8.1 strikeouts per nine inning average. Columbia has already set a new program record for strikeouts in a season with 335 on the year.
Joey Donino leads the strikeout march, sitting down an average of 10.98 batters per nine frames, the 10th highest average in the country. David Speer, who averages 8.55 k’s per nine innings, ranks 20th with five complete games this season. Speer’s 2.17 ERA also cracks the nation’s top 100 at 81st overall.
Outstanding base running has also contributed to Columbia’s winning ways. Serena and Nick Crucet have both swiped 20 bases this season to rank among the best nationally. The Lions’ 77 stolen bases as a team place them 66th in the country, while their 1.67 steals per game average is the 32nd highest among all Division I teams.
At the dish, a trio of Lions post batting averages above .300. Sophomore Joey Falcone paces the Lions with a .333 average to go with his team-leading .535 slugging percentage. Senior Alex Black, who also has four saves on the year, boasts a .320 average and a team-best seven home runs and 29 RBI. Aaron Silbar will take a .314 clip at the plate into the weekend and is just one of two Lions with at least 10 doubles (11).
Defensively, Columbia finished the year ranked second in the Ivy League with .970 fielding percentage. That mark is the best single-season fielding percentage in program history. Center fielder Serena went errorless the entire year, recording 88 putouts and four assists. Catcher Mike Fischer has been stellar behind the plate, committing just one error, while being charged with only seven passed balls as the starting catcher for the entire Columbia pitching staff. Fischer has also played a critical role in limiting teams to free bases, throwing out 18 of 37 base runners attempting to steal, a 48.6 percent rate.
SCOUTING No. 5 CAL STATE FULLERTON
Similar to Columbia, Fullerton has finished the season on a seven-game win streak, and has won 14 of its last 15 contests. The Titans wrapped up the regular season with sweeps of UC Irvine and Cal State Northridge, clinching their fourth consecutive Big West Conference title and 27th overall conference championship. Fullerton is making its 35th postseason appearance and 22nd in a row.
The Titans finished the year with a 48-8 overall mark and a 23-4 record in conference play. The 48 wins are the most since 2006 for Fullerton and the 48-8 record is the best 56-game mark since 1975. The Titans also finished with single-digit losses in the regular season for only the second time since 1975, with the only other time coming in 1995 when they finished the year 46-9.
The Fullerton pitching staff boasts a pair of 11-game winners in Thomas Eshelman and Justin Garza. Eshelman has thrown the Titans’ lone complete game, while carrying the lowest ERA on the team at 1.63. Garza is undefeated this season, 11-0, and leads the Titans with 80 strikeouts in 99.2 innings. Four relievers have thrown at least 20 innings, led by Tyler Peitzmeier. In 26 appearances, the sophomore is 3-0 with a 0.61 ERA. Junior Michael Lorenzen has come on in the final inning to close out 18 games for Fullerton this season.
As a staff, the Titans rank as the top pitching team in three categories: Strikeout-to-walk ratio (4.71), WHIP (1.03) and walks allowed per nine innings (1.49). Fullerton’s team ERA of 2.56 is the sixth lowest nationally.
The Fullerton lineup features five players hitting above .300 and six with on-base percentages topping .400, led by Carlos Lopez’s .344 average. The senior first baseman has a team-best 75 hits in 218 at-bats. Lorenzen, who also plays in the outfield, is second on the team with a .335 average, but leads the Titans in slugging percentage (.534), RBI (50), home runs (seven) and extra-base hits (23). The 24 triples Fullerton has smacked this year ranks 10th in the nation.
SCOUTING ARIZONA STATE
Arizona State earned an at-large berth to the NCAA tournament after finishing fourth in the Pac-12 this season. The Sun Devils put up a 35-20-1 overall record and a 16-14 conference mark. Just a few weeks ago, a number of websites that predict NCAA participants had ASU as a host site, but a 2-5 record over the final nine days of the season pushed the Sun Devils to the two-seed in Fullerton.
The Sun Devils finished the regular season ranked first in the Pac-12 in slugging percentage (.450), hits (581), RBI (335), doubles (115), home runs (46) and total bases (884). They were second in batting average (.296), runs scored (360) and triples (25), and third in on-base percentage (.378).
Third baseman Michael Benjamin paced the team offensively as he finished first in the conference in slugging percentage (.569), hits (81) and total bases (132). He is the only player in the Pac-12 to place among the top four in the conference in batting average, slugging percentage, runs scored, hits and home runs.
Freshman left-handed starting pitcher Ryan Kellogg finished the regular season at 11-0 and ranks third on ASU's single-season freshmen wins list. He is the only pitcher in the conference with at least nine wins to go undefeated. Freshman right-handed reliever Ryan Burr is third in the conference in saves with 11 and tied the school record for single-season freshmen saves.
The Sun Devils are making their 36th post-season appearance, tied for fifth most in NCAA history (with USC and Clemson).
SCOUTING NEW MEXICO
The Lobos garnered an at-large bid to the Men’s College World Series after capturing the Mountain West regular-season championship and finishing as the runner-up to San Diego State in the conference title series. New Mexico sports a 37-20 overall record, while going 25-6 in the Mountain West.
New Mexico ranks as one of the most dominant offensive teams nationally. The Lobos are the top team in the nation in the following categories: Batting average (.336), scoring (8.4), hits (702), doubles per game (2.56), doubles (146) and on-base percentage (.424). They rank second in runs (479) and slugging percentage (.510) and third in triples (31).
D.J. Peterson sets the standard for the strong Lobos’ lineup. The junior ranks among the nation’s top-five hitters in the following categories: Runs per game (second-1.28), slugging percentage (second-.823), total bases (second-172), batting average (third-.411), home runs (third-18), on-base percentage (third-.525), runs (fourth-68) and RBI (fifth-70).
Mitch Garver and Luke Campbell also rank in the top-30 nationally in batting average, carrying .387 (23rd) and .382 (29th) marks into the Fullerton Regional.
Josh Walker has led the Lobos’ pitching staff, posting an 11-0 record and seven saves in 28 appearances. Walker’s 3.91 ERA ranks third on the team, trailing leader Gabe Aguilar (2.55) and Sam Wolf (3.05). Wolff leads New Mexico with 68 strikeouts this season.