The CSUF baseball season came to an abrupt end on Friday when the Big West canceled all spring sports competitions.
The cancellation comes in the wake of COVID-19, which the World Health Organization has declared a pandemic, to eliminate large gatherings of people to slow the spread of the virus.
On Thursday, the Big West suspended its spring sports, but before that, Fullerton planned on playing games without spectators. The cancellation of spring sports, including baseball, was decided after the NBA season was suspended last Wednesday, due to Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert testing positive for the coronavirus.
The baseball team had been playing poorly in non-conference play to start the season as they had a 4-12 record when the season was canceled, in spite of the season’s promising start with a series victory at Stanford. Although they came into the season unranked, D1 Baseball ranked the Titans No. 24 in the country as they came into the season unranked after a convincing series win against the Cardinal.
Since then, the Titans went 2-11 and failed to win a series. They finished their shortened season on a six-game losing streak, including a sweep to the Texas Longhorns.
The Titans were scheduled to begin conference play this Friday with a home series against Long Beach State. Preseason polls such as Baseball America, D1 Baseball and the Big West coaches poll picked Fullerton to win the Big West title this year, but their play failed to inspire confidence.
Fullerton was also looking to return to the postseason after missing it last season, which was the first time they missed it since 1991. Unfortunately, the Titans were on pace to miss the NCAA postseason for the second year in a row, which has not happened since the mid-1980s.
Despite the disappointing season, there were some notable moments. In their 6-1 victory over Stanford on Feb. 15, CSUF head coach Rick Vanderhook picked up his 300th win in nine seasons as the Titans coach. This placed him third in the program’s history, behind Augie Garrido and George Horton.
One notable player for the Titans this season was sophomore infielder Zach Lew. He led the team with a .339 batting average and nine runs batted in. He also led the team with 21 hits on the season, which is nine more than four of his other teammates, who are tied with 12 hits. He is also tied for the team lead with three doubles and one triple.
The Titans pitching staff was led by Tanner Bibee and Kyle Luckham. Luckham led the team with a 2.52 earned run average across 25 innings pitched. He had a 2-0 record across four starts and recorded 20 strikeouts.
Bibee had an earned run average of 2.73 and 33 strikeouts through 29.2 innings pitched. However, across four starts, Bibee had a 1-3 record, highlighting the lack of offense the Titans produced in their shortened season.
The Titans offense had a batting average of .214 and only produced 21 extra base hits on the season. Paired with the lack of success from starting pitchers outside Luckham and Bibee, this explains the overall poor performance from the Titans this season.
Joe Magrisi had an 0-3 record across four games started for the Titans. Across 19.1 innings pitched, he allowed 12 earned runs, which gave him a 5.59 ERA. Michael Knorr, Cameron Repetti and Landon Anderson also started games for the Titans. Knorr posted a 13.50 ERA across four appearances and Anderson recorded a 16.20 ERA in two appearances.
Seniors on the baseball team whose careers may have ended prematurely include Isaiah Garcia, Zach Weisz, Dillon Brown, Jeff Pelegrino, Matthew Sanchez and Brady Barcellos. However, the NCAA is considering eligibility relief for seniors playing in spring sports, so that they could finish out their careers on their own terms next season.
Now, the baseball program will have to focus on recruiting through digital communication, and the players will have to prepare for next season while trying to remain safe during the COVID-19 pandemic.