FULLERTON- Looking to stay undefeated in the month of April, No. 12 Cal State Fullerton baseball is preparing for this weekend’s Big West Conference showdown against the UC Davis Aggies at Goodwin Field.
“We’ve just got to keep on doing what we’ve been doing the past couple of games and stay within ourselves, not try to do too much,” freshman Sahid Valenzuela told the Daily Titan.
The Titans opened conference play on the right foot by taking two out of three games over UC Riverside in their series last weekend. Along with a 13-2 nonconference victory over San Diego Tuesday, Fullerton will try to ride this wave of momentum into the Davis series and attempt to gain some elbow room atop the Big West standings.
Despite the young season, the Titans’ top-of-the-line pitching staff is already proving its worth as its 2.65 ERA ranks ninth in the country and is by far the best among Big West teams. The next-best pitching staff belongs to Hawaii with a 3.01 ERA.
Left-handed starter John Gavin leads the Titans pitching staff with a 1.63 ERA, which ranks second in the Big West. Fellow starter Connor Seabold is posting a 3.19 ERA, a slight decline from his 2.48 clip last season. However he’s recorded 43 strikeouts, which ranks third in the conference.
Seabold projects to start Friday night’s game against the Aggies with Gavin as the projected starter for Sunday. Gavin Velasquez has been filling in as the second man in the starting pitching rotation for weekend series since typical starter Colton Eastman— who has not pitched since Feb. 25 at UNLV—is out due to tendinitis in his throwing arm.
Velasquez has started five games in the absence of Eastman, giving up 11 earned runs in 27 innings pitched. In his three appearances before being forced into the starting lineup, Velasquez had not given up a run in 10.1 innings.
In the other dugout, UC Davis (9-13) sits at third place in the Big West following its conference series victory over Cal State Northridge last weekend. While the Aggies are in third place in the conference with a 2-1 record, they have the worst overall record with nine wins.
The Aggies have used a combination of four pitchers in the starting rotation throughout the season. Robert Garcia has the best ERA of the top starters with a 3.86 while Orlando Razo leads the team with six starts on the mound and is second on the team with a 4.37 ERA.
UC Davis’ pitchers rank fifth in the Big West while giving up 4.50 earned runs per game. Other possible starters for the Aggies in the weekend matchup with Fullerton are Justin Millins and Matt Blais, both of whom have ERAs over 4.00.
Fullerton has greatly improved its batting average in the month of April. While they have only played three games, the Titans are batting .363 with 34 runs and 31 RBIs, compared to a 2.56 average in March.
“I think after those couple of losses, we all kind of came back together and we all kind of know what we have to do and we’re just playing as a team, we’re playing together and hopefully we can keep the ball rolling,” Valenzuela said.
The first game of the three-game series begins Friday at 7 p.m. and will be aired on ESPN3.