FROM CBB NEWS SOURCE
Following a season that once again concluded in Omaha, Neb., at the College World Series, Cal State Fullerton was selected to capture the 2010 Big West Baseball Championship, a title they lost to UC Irvine last season, according to the Big West Conference preseason poll conducted by the league’s nine head coaches. The Titans, who have claimed at least a share of seven of the last 11 titles and a conference-best 14, nabbed seven first-place votes for a total of 79 points and were followed by defending conference championship UC Irvine, who picked up two first-place votes en route to a 71 point total. Rounding out the top three were the Cal Poly Mustangs, sitting third with 60 points.
The Titans, under third-year head coach Dave Serrano, finished the 2009 campaign with a 47-16 overall record and a 17-7 conference mark, good enough for second place in the Big West. Cal State Fullerton swept both the NCAA Regionals and Super Regionals to advance to the College World Series for its 16th appearance. Fullerton has a wealth of returning talent that includes an entire weekend pitching rotation, a closer, and a couple of top-round draft pick defenders up the middle to go along with a Top 5 recruiting class. Slated to headline the Fullerton rotation are Daniel Renken, Noe Ramirez and Tyler Pill, while Nick Ramirez returns as the teams closer. All four of the hurlers achieved All-American status a year ago and accounted for 34 wins, seven saves and a 3.24 combined ERA and helped the Titan staff compile the nation’s fourth-best ERA.
The Anteaters of UC Irvine are coming off one of their best seasons in program history, which witnessed the ‘Eaters capturing their first league crown with an outstanding 22-2 mark. UC Irvine also became the first team in conference history to go undefeated at home during league play and boasted the second-best conference winning percentage in Big West history at .917. Like Cal State Fullerton, UC Irvine welcomes back a majority of their pitching staff, including All-Americans Daniel Bibona and Eric Pettis. Rejoining Bibona and Pettis on the mound in 2010 are Preseason All-America Christian Bergman and Crosby Slaught.
Cal Poly, looking to continue its success of last season, was selected third in this year’s poll. The Mustangs concluded 2009 with an overall mark of 37-21, a third place finish in the Big West at 14-10 and made its first appearance in the NCAA Tournament since moving to Division I in 1995. Leading the charge offensively in 2010 is Big West Freshman of the Year Matt Jensen who was sidelined late in the season due to a fractured clavicle. Prior to his injury he sported a .375 batting average with 15 doubles, nine home runs and 53 RBI and recorded a 23-game hitting streak, the third longest in Cal Poly Division I history. Also coming back from injury this season is pitcher Steven Fischback, who in 2008 finished seventh in the Big West with 79 strikeouts and posted a 5-4 record with a 4.55 earned run average.
Long Beach secured the fourth slot with 50 points, UC Riverside landed in fifth after receiving 48 points and UC Santa Barbara grabbed 36 points to take the sixth spot. Pacific locked down seventh with 30 points, followed by Cal State Northridge’s eight-place point total of 19. Rounding out the nine-team field with 12 points was UC Davis, who is playing in just its third season at the Division I level.
2010 Coaches Poll Results
1. Cal State Fullerton (7) – 79
2. UC Irvine (2) – 71
3. Cal Poly – 60
4. Long Beach State – 50
5. UC Riverside – 48
6. UC Santa Barbara – 36 7. Pacific – 30
8. Cal State Northridge – 19
9. UC Davis – 12
( ) First-place vote