One and six.
That’s the current record (1-6) of the Titans after losing their recent series to the Houston Cougars this weekend.
Battling frigid temperatures and icy winds, the Titans were only able to steal one out of the three games this weekend. Luckily they got one, as they were at risk of extending the worst start in school history.
On Friday night, the Titans played in a marathon, battling the Cougars in 15 innings before walking it off on a wild pitch to claim the win 2-1. The opening night victory was a plus, however, the Titans continued to struggle at the plate with them only being able to notch two hits in five hours and five minutes.
The one major highlight of the game was Colton Eastman. The junior looked like his old self, going for six innings and fanning six batters. Eastman, who had a rough outing in the season opener at Stanford, battled through the cold and was nearly untouchable as the Cougars were only able to connect on four hits off the ace. Although Eastman walked four batters, his control looked much sharper than his last two outings combined.
And the best stat of the night: 0 wild pitches.
Saturday’s contest was a bit more bearable for the fans and the players, as the 4 p.m. game saw warmer temperatures and bats. Fullerton was able to scatter eight hits, but lost the game 9-4.
Despite being dropped in the lineup to hit in the six slot due to his early season struggles, last year’s All-American Sahid Valenzuela went 3-for-5 at the plate and scored one run to lead the offense. However, some timely errors and mental mistakes by the team cost the Titans the game.
On Sunday, it appeared the Titans were going to steal a victory and the series, as they looked sharp early, both at the plate and on the mound. Head Coach Rick Vanderhook changed things up, starting bullpen staple Blake Workman. It seemed to be “working”, as Workman was hitting his spots and getting the Cougars to hit it right to Fullerton’s defenders.
But the story was all about the bats.
Fullerton seemed to be getting contributions from everyone at the plate, as the Titans seemed to have runners on base almost every inning. However, their ability to hit with runners in scoring position was lacking.
The Titans loaded the bases multiple times, but only managed to knock in five en route to losing 10-5. The Titans outhit the Cougars 15-12, but also stranded 15 runners on-base. Something you can’t obviously do if you want to beat a skilled team such as Houston.
As lopsided as the score may have seemed, the Titans beat themselves more than it was the Cougars defeating them.
The Titans committed five errors, including a few that cost the team to give up key runs.
The team will look to bounce back on Tuesday when they host No. 11 UCLA at Goodwin.
Key Takeaways From The Weekend
- Mitch Berryhill – The junior transfer seemed to be making the most of his starts, going 5-for-12 over the last three games. The centerfielder also showed off some good hustle, and even ran out an infield single on a ball hit to second base. That’s some speed. It should be interesting to see how Coach Vanderhook uses him in the lineup if he keeps hitting. Currently, Berryhill hits in the lower half of the lineup.
- Jace Chamberlin – Another new face, the freshman got his first career hits as a Titan this weekend. Chamberlin hadn’t seen much playing time prior to this series, but I have a feeling we’ll be seeing more of him. He’s making solid contact and has found a way to get some walks too. In order to spark some more life in the lineup, Coach Vanderhook started Chamberlin at first on Sunday, moving Jake Pavletich to third. The change was a good one, as Chamberlin went 2-for-5 on the day.
- Struggling Defense – Last season, the Titans were one of the best defensive teams in the nation, ranking in the top 25 in fielding percentage. This year, they’re far from it. This weekend alone, the team committed seven errors (and crucial ones at that) and one more last Tuesday versus Nevada. Luckily, the season is still very young and this is something they can fix with a little more practice and game-time… but hopefully they can get this under-wraps very soon.