The Cal State Fullerton Titans and Vanderbilt Commodores faced off on Saturday and Sunday in two intersquad scrimmages. The Titans won game 1 on Saturday 10-8 and on Sunday the Titans completed the sweep with a come from behind 9-3 victory in game 2.
Unlike the series, I thought we’d split this list down the middle with the Top Five things each squad learned in the brief two game exhibition series.
1. Vanderbilt may be young, but there’s no lack of talent. The team that lost eleven players from last year’s squad that made the school’s first CWS has brought in a top-ranked recruiting class and anyone who watched the series will understand why. Take Chris Harvey, who graduated high school a year early to come play for the Dores. The touted catcher, rough edges aside, hit a towering home run off the scoreboard in left field in Game 1, showing that he may become a power hitter for the 2011-12 team. And don’t be surprised if you see Harvey behind the plate this spring, despite the veteran status of redshirt senior Drew Fann and sophomore Spencer Navin.
2. Tyler Beede will be worth the hype—eventually—despite the kinks he showed this weekend. He’s young, and will make mistakes this spring against veteran squads, but he maintains his poise well on the mound and has a nasty arsenal of pitches. When he’s on, he’s on, and as he matures under pitching coach Derek Johnson’s watchful eye, he’s going to become one of the top pitchers in the country.
3. Phil Pfeifer, a freshman lefty, is a surprise to say the least. His windup is…unconventional, and almost looks painful, but when that ball comes out of his hand, it has a nasty bite to it. He went two scoreless innings in Game 1 and a scoreless inning in Game 2. Actually, let’s be honest, all of the freshmen pitchers are going to be good. Brian Miller has an easy throwing motion from a number of slots, though he’s was mostly sidearm this weekend.
4. Not really a surprise for anyone who has followed Vanderbilt baseball, but Tony Kemp is FAST. His speed is going to help this team out as he steals bases come spring. Same with Mike Yastrzemski. The two of them scare opposing pitchers when they take a base, and they do well at distracting pitchers the way they hop around on the bases. Of all the players who found their way to first this series, they were frequently the reason for elongated innings.
5. This is not last year’s team. Last year, the Commodores started hot and stayed hot, making their first ever run to the College World Series. But, they had twelve players drafted, eleven of whom signed (pitcher Will Clinard was the only one who chose to return). This year’s team, because of its youth, will start slow and build gradually. I don’t know that they’ll repeat last year’s success right away, but give this team time on the field to grow and mature, and I’d be surprised if they didn’t make another run at Omaha—with even better success—down the road.
Cal State Fullerton
1. Cal State Fullerton looked solid this weekend. It wasn’t that much of a surprise that they played well against Vanderbilt, or even that they beat Vandy in the series. They chipped steadily away at Kevin Ziomek, who will undoubtedly be a starter come spring, in that first game. And they took advantage of the young Tyler Beede and transfer Drew VerHagen to come back from a 3-1 deficit for a 9-3 win in Game 2. From pitching to hitting, they looked fluid. It should be noted that this year’s team, like Vanderbilt’s has double digit freshmen—fourteen, and fifteen if you count redshirt pitcher Grahamm Wiest (see #3 on here).
2. Dylan Floro will be the anchor for the Titan pitching staff. Having watched him several times over the summer on the Cape, I’m pretty comfortable saying that. In Game 1, the junior pitched four innings, allowing only one run, unearned, on one hit, and he struck out three. It wasn’t until he left the game that Vanderbilt managed to get their momentum in what turned out to be a 10-8 Fullerton win.
3. The Titans are not going to lie down for anyone or anything. Down three headed into the sixth, they went on a tear for the next few innings, tacking nine runs on the board. Grahamm Wiest was a strong reliever for Fullerton, keeping Vandy off the board as his offense put two four-run innings on the board, one in the seventh and one in the eighth.
4. Matt Chapman, a freshman for the Titans, is going to be a dangerous presence at the plate. In Game 1, he went 2-for-4 with two runs scored. In Game 2, he was 2-for-5 with one run scored and two runs batted in. More importantly, he came up with clutch hits when his team needed it.
5. The Titans are strong up and down their lineup. Michael Lorenzen, Derek Legg, and Carlos Lopez provided a 1-2-3 punch all weekend at the top of the batting order, combining for six runs scored and driving in seven. Kingsolver, who batted seventh both days, went 5-for-9 overall in the series, with three runs scored and three RBI. While they jumped out early in Game 1 and late in Game 2, the results were both the same: 10 and 9 run games with at least one explosive inning of work that saw four runs.