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2008 REGIONAL PREVIEW: FULLERTON & PALO ALTO
May 30, 2008

SCS.com New coach, same results. Cal State Fullerton has had an excellent season under former player and assistant Dave Serrano, who has led them to the #5 national seed after taking Big West rival UC Irvine to the College World Series last spring. The Titans will have a fight on their hands, as talent-laden UCLA and Virginia teams have their eyes on putting it all together at the right time and making a run to glory. The winner of their regional will take on the winner of the Palo Alto Regional, where host Stanford will look to kickstart a run towards their first appearance in Omaha since 2003. However, they'll face a test right out of the gate in regional first-timer UC Davis, who may be a first-timer but has some big wins this season, including two over the Cardinal. Pepperdine, the #2 seed, and #3 Arkansas are two experienced, talented teams that should also pose a challenge to Stanford's hopes of a potential meeting with Fullerton.

FULLERTON REGIONAL
  vs Palo Alto Regional

The Field

(1) Cal State Fullerton [#5 National Seed]
The Titans finished the regular season with a 37-19 record, and tied for first in the Big West with Long Beach State at 16-8. Dave Serrano's Titans are making their 17th straight postseason appearance and their 30th in 34 seasons on the D-I level.
(2) UCLA
The Bruins (31-25) finished 3rd in the Pac-10 with a 13-11 record, three games behind conference champion and #3 national seed Arizona State. UCLA is making its third straight postseason appearance for the first time in school history.
(3) Virginia
The Cavaliers are making their fifth straight postseason appearance in head coach Brian O'Connor's five seasons. Virginia (38-21) finished 4th in the ACC Coastal Division with a 15-15 record and advanced to the final of the ACC tournament, losing 8-4 to Miami.
(4) Rider
Rider (29-26) is making its first regional appearance since 1994, when they were in the Northeast Conference. This season, the Broncs, who finished 4th in the Metro Atlantic, went 3-1 in the MAAC tournament and defeated Siena 12-5 for the conference championship.

The Venue

Cal State Fullerton has been playing at Goodwin Field since April 18, 1992, and the stadium has been named Goodwin Field since April 2000, when it was dedicated in honor of benefactors Jerry and Merilyn Goodwin. Will we see Fullerton alum and huge sports fan Kevin Costner in the stands this weekend, or will he be in Houston to see Texas in the Rice regional?

The Best

Starting Pitcher - Jeff Kaplan, Cal State Fullerton - Kaplan is one of the nation's leader in wins, as he has an 11-1 record this season in 15 starts, with a 4.00 ERA. Kaplan has struck out 82 hitters in 99 innings.
Runner-up: Jacob Thompson, Virginia
Relief Pitcher - Matt Packer, Virginia - Packer (6-2, 1.16 ERA) is tied for the team's lead in wins and leads the team in ERA. He came up huge for the Cavaliers in the ACC tournament, as excellent relief efforts in close victories over North Carolina and Florida State that allowed them to reach the championship game.
Runner-up: Michael Schwimer, Virginia
Infielder - Casey Haerther, UCLA - UCLA's sophomore first baseman has made only three errors in more than 450 chances in the field this season, and he's also UCLA's leading power hitter (10 homers) and run producer (49 RBI), and he's hitting .326 (2nd on the team) with 22 doubles (1st).
Runner-up: Jeremy Farrell, Virginia
Outfielder - Josh Fellhauer, Cal State Fullerton - Fellhauer is Fullerton's second leading hitter (.350, 7 homers, 37 RBI, 16 steals) and has a .976 fielding percentage.
Runner-up: Erik Komatsu, CSF
Homerun Hitter - Jeremy Farrell, Virginia - There isn't a big-time power producer in this regional, but Farrell and Rider's Sean Olson have the most homers of any player in the regional with 11.
Runner-up: Sean Olson, Rider
Coach - Dave Serrano, Cal State Fullerton - O'Connor has taken Virginia's baseball program to new heights in the five seasons that he's been at the helm. With two wins this weekend, O'Connor will have his fifth straight 40-win season.
Runner-up: Dave Serrano, Cal State Fullerton

The Forecast

The main thing to watch in this regional is the pitching. Virginia has one of the best collection of arms in the country, but their rotation hasn't consistently up to par this season. Their ace, Jacob Thompson, has had a down year (6-4, 4.40 ERA), but he had a strong outing in the ACC tournament against FSU, and he'll need to do so again this weekend, along with Pat McAnaney and Andrew Carraway. The same can be said for UCLA, who's got three top-notch starters in Tim Murphy, Gavin Brooks, and Charles Brewer. If Virginia can get a strong effort on the mound from their starters and put the bullpen in a position to nail down the win, the Cavaliers could finally make the breakthrough we've been waiting for over the last few seasons. As for the host team, they should hold serve at home, but the keys are going to be the same for them as they will be for the other teams - solid pitching, timely hitting, and manufacturing runs. All four teams have at least a little speed, including Rider (one of the nation's top basestealers in James Hayes, who has 37 steals this season), and it will play a factor this weekend.

The Predictions

Eddie Jason Jimmy Jonathan
Cal State Fullerton Cal State Fullerton Cal State Fullerton Cal State Fullerton

PALO ALTO REGIONAL
  vs (City Name) Regional

The Field

(1) Stanford
The Cardinal (33-21-2) finished second behind Arizona State in the Pac-10 with a 14-10 record. This is Stanford's 28th postseason appearance.
(2) Pepperdine
The Waves (36-18) finished 2nd in the West Coast with a 14-6 record and lost to San Diego in the conference championship series. Pepperdine is making its sixth straight regional appearance and 25th overall.
(3) Arkansas
Arkansas (34-22) finished 9th in the SEC with a 14-15 record, which kept them out of the SEC tournament, but the Razorbacks still received a postseason bid thanks to an RPI in the 30s.
(4) UC Davis
The Aggies, in their first season as a full D-I member, are in the regionals after finishing 6th in the Big West with a 13-11 record and 34-22 overall.

The Venue

Stanford's Klein Field at Sunken Diamond was originally constructed in 1931, and is thought of as one of the premier college baseball stadiums in the country. The field is 335 down the left and right field lines, 375 in the alleys, and 400 to straightaway center.

The Best

Starting Pitcher - Eddie Gamboa, UC Davis - Gamboa, the Aggies' Friday starter, is 6-3 with a 2.67 ERA in 14 appearances (13 starts). Gamboa has thrown two complete games and one shutout, and has 59 strikeouts and only 12 walks in 91 innings.
Runner-up: Erik Davis, Stanford
Relief Pitcher - Justin Fitzgerald, UC Davis - Fitzgerald has a star out of the pen for the Aggies this season, as his 15 saves are one of the top totals in the country. Fizgerald has a 3-1 record with a 2.76 ERA in 23 appearances, and he has 35 strikeouts and only five walks in 32.2 innings.
Runner-up: Nick Gaudi, Pepperdine
Infielder - Denny Duron, Pepperdine - Duron has had an excellent year in the field, as the second baseman has only four errors in 300 chances in the field. He's also hitting ..285 with five homers and 34 RBI.
Runner-up: Cord Phelps, Stanford
Outfielder - Eric Thames, Pepperdine - Unfortunately for Pepperdine, Thames won't be in the lineup this weekened as he tore his quad recently. Before the injury, Thames had been putting together an stellar year, hitting .407 with 13 homers, eight triples, and 59 RBI - all team-leading totals - and had made only one error in the outfield in 105 chances.
Runner-up: Sean Ratliff, Stanford
Homerun Hitter - Sean Ratliff, Stanford - Ratliff has bashed 18 homers this season, which is tops on the team and one of the top totals in the Pac-10. Ratliff has also driven in a team-leading 57 runs.
Runner-up: Aaron Murphree, Arkansas
Coach - Mark Marquess, Stanford - Marquess, who has been the head coach at Stanford since 1977, has won more than 1,300 games in his tenure and led the Cardinal to the College World Series 13 times, with national championships in 1987 and 1988.
Runner-up: Dave Van Horn, Arkansas

The Forecast

It may be UC Davis' first time in the NCAA regionals, but don't be surprised if they end up making a run to the regional title. Not only do they have two wins over Stanford this season, but they have two excellent starters in Gamboa and Brad McAtee (8-4, 3.03 ERA) and a solid bullpen, and they have a solid bunch of hitters, led by Jake Jeffries (.396, 4 homers, 54 RBI), who can put enough runs on the board. The Cardinal have some dangerous hitters in the lineup (Ratliff, Phelps, and Jason Castro are in double digits in homers), but their pitching is going to have to come up big against the Aggies and against Pepperdine/Arkansas, who can both hit pretty well. It makes a big difference for Pepperdine to be without Thames, but will the rest of the guys be able to pick up the slack to offset his absence? More than anything, they need to show up on the mound - they've given up 31 runs in their last three games. As for Arkansas, they're pretty deep in the power department, but just swinging for the fences won't win them this regional.

The Predictions

Eddie Jason Jimmy Jonathan
Pepperdine Pepperdine Stanford Pepperdine

Read more from Eddie throughout the week at
www.NCAABaseballReport.com

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