Monday, May 30, 2005

Crimson Readies To Face Ricky Romero

The first and perhaps most important question to ask after learning that the Crimson will be facing the defending-national champion Cal State Fullerton Titans is: will we see sure-to-be-first-rounder Ricky Romero in Game 1? Romero is the returning left-handed superstar ace for the Titans, having pitched for Team USA last summer. It was Romero along with fellow ace and 2004 College World Series MVP Jason Windsor who led the Titans to the championship last season. Romero was named to the 2004 CWS All-Tournament team. Windsor is now in the Oakland A’s farm system, where he is pitching in High A for the Stockland Ports.

So will we see Romero? To try to answer this question, I took a look at how Cal State handled their regional games last year. In 2004, they faced #4 seed Minnesota in the first round at home. Windsor, the ace at the time, pitched and dominated the Gophers. Romero pitched the second game against Pepperdine, but the bullpen failed to hold the Titans' lead. The Titans then faced Arizona State and beat them to advance to the final where they had to beat Pepperdine twice and did (with Windsor coming back to start the second game). They then swept Tulane in Super Regionals at home with a dominating performance by Windsor and a less-than-dominating performance by Romero. And we all know the Titans then went on to take the 2004 CWS Title on the strength of Windsor’s 2 victories and a save, and Romero’s victories over Miami and Texas. Past performance suggests that we will see Romero because Coach George Horton does not appear to be one who keeps his bullets in the gun.

But yet, I still pause in saying that the Titans will surely go with Romero, primarily for two reasons. First, they’ll take us more lightly than Minnesota (read “Ivy League”). And second, because they have a quality second starter in LHP Scott Sarver who last year came up with big pitching performances against Pepperdine and South Carolina in the post-season. This year, Sarver is 9-3 with a 3.97 ERA, with 51 Ks, 26 walks in 77 innings pitched. (Romero is 12-4, 2.80, 119 IP, 129 Ks, 31 walks).

So either way, the Crimson will most likely face a lefty starter which seems to be bode well given the strength of our right-handed bats. I’m still hesitant to say the Titans will pitch Romero because they may be looking ahead to a second-round matchup against Arizona, a team that Romero lost to 1-0 during the regular season (Fullerton took 2 of 3 in the regular season match-up). If Fullerton takes the Crimson too lightly, they may be surprised by the offensive strength of the club, a department in which I think we stack up quite well. More on this later.

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