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Regional preview: Cal State Fullerton

One of the best programs in college baseball history is the 3-seed in Stillwater.



One of college baseball’s bluebloods is also part of the Stillwater Regional. Here’s a closer look at the Cal State Fullerton Titans.

Team Info

Location: Fullerton, CA
Record: 32-22
Conference: Big West

How they got here: Midway through the season, the Titans were at risk to miss out on the postseason. But winning 10 of its last 12 games, including the final seven of the season, earned Fullerton one of the 33 at-large bids.

About The Titans

This team didn’t reach the same level as last season’s team, but that doesn’t mean they are without talent. Right fielder J.D. Davis (.338/.425/.521) and third baseman Matt Chapman (.321/.418/.516) anchor the lineup, combining for 11 home runs and 84 RBIs. The Titans like to run, too – six players on the team have at least six steals this season.

And if the offense doesn’t beat you, the pitching will. The Titans staff leads the country in ERA (2.03) and strikeout-to-walk ratio (5.20). They average less than a walk and a half per game, which is astronomical to me. The staff is led by starters Thomas Eshelman (8-3, 1.92 ERA, 94:7 K:BB in 117.1 IP) and Grahamm Wiest (4-4, 1.55 ERA, 4 CG). Fullerton is always in the game no matter how its offense does, because the pitchers don’t allow walks and don’t allow home runs – two specialties of the OSU offense.

About The Coach

Rick Vanderhook is in his third season in charge of CS Fullerton, finally getting the call up after spending 24 years as an assistant coach. As a player, he was part of the Titans’ second national championship, in 1984. He was also an assistant coach for two more titles, but now he gets the chance to lead his own team to the promised land.

Vanderhook has a career mark of 119-53 at Fullerton, which includes Big West Conference championships and Big West Coach of the Year honors in each of his first two seasons. Last year’s team had the second-best winning percentage in program history as “Hook” led the Titans to a Super Regional loss to eventual national champion UCLA.

About The Program

Established in 1975, the Titans have never had a losing season. It’s where the legendary Augie Garrido – the NCAA’s all-time wins leader and the current Texas head coach – got his start, winning three national championships. Fullerton would add a fourth in 2004. Matter of fact, the number of national championships the Titans have won is the same number of times they’ve missed the NCAA Tournament since 1975 – four.

The numbers just keep getting outstanding. This is the 23rd consecutive year Fullerton has reached a Regional, which is the third-longest active streak in the nation. They’ve won 11 of their past 15 Regional appearances, and they’ve never gone winless at one.

Simply put, this is one of the best programs in college baseball.

All-Time Series

Against Oklahoma State: 3-4 (Most recent: Split two games in Stillwater in 2009)
Against Nebraska: 6-0 (Most recent: Swept four games against Nebraska in 2013)
Against Binghamton: 0-0

Fun Fact

This might not be fun for any of the other teams in the Stillwater Regional, but Cal State Fullerton has won 11 regionals on the road, including the 1994 Stillwater Regional. The assistant coach on that OSU team was none other than Tom Holliday – father of current head coach Josh.

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