We picked Cal State Fullerton baseball's all-time starting nine
This is the latest in our series of all time starting nines for some of college baseball’s most successful programs. Players' professional careers were not considered, just their college careers — along with consideration given to their positional fits as well as a batting order that could provide a combination of a high batting average, speed and power.
Picking the Titans' all-time starting nine was no easy task. With four national championships and three Golden Spikes winners, Cal State Fullerton has quite the bevy of collegiate baseball legends to choose from.
Outfielder: John Fishel (82-85)
Fishel played a lot of games with Cal State Fullerton, which led to a lot of at-bats. In fact, Fishel is the NCAA record holder in both of those categories, playing 295 games and coming to bat 1,114 times. He did a lot of good things with those at bats, ending his career as the Titans' all-time leader in hits (379), doubles (72), RBIs (281) and total bases (596), while still placing second in runs (234) and third in stolen bases (83). Fishel was also the Most Outstanding Player in the 1984 College World Series, head coach Augie Garrido’s second championship.
Outfield: Mark Kotsay (1994-96)
Kotsay had an amazing career at the plate for the Titans and he was a relief pitcher as well, which earns him bonus points. He was a hit machine, leading the team in average for three straight seasons from 1994-96. Kotsay also led the team in home runs and RBIs in back-to-back years. His 1995 campaign, in which he hit .422 with 21 home runs and 90 RBIs, won him the Golden Spikes Award. Kotsay is Fullerton’s all-time leader in batting average (.404) and slugging percentage (.743) while he also finds himself among the top 10 in home runs (45), doubles (60), runs (201), RBIs (216), hits (259) and on-base percentage (.481).
Kotsay shined brightest when it mattered most. He's the only player to hit two grand slams in a College World Series and his .517 career batting average is tops in CWS lore. Kotsay hit .563 in the CWS when the Titans romped their way to the 1995 championship.
First base: Tim Wallach (1978-79)
This may have been the easiest choice on the list. Wallach isn’t only a Titans legend, but as a member of the College Baseball Hall of Fame, he’s an NCAA all-time great. Wallach won the second Golden Spikes Award ever in 1979. He actually led the team in hitting (.394), home runs (16) and RBIs (80) in 1978 the year prior to his Golden Spikes season. Wallach followed that by launching 23 home runs and driving in a nation-best 102 runs in 1979.
Despite that monster 1978 junior season, Wallach returned for his senior year. It not only paid off with the Golden Spikes Award and numerous All-American accolades but the Titans won their first national championship with Wallach's monster bat in the heart of the lineup.
Third base: Phil Nevin (1990-92)
Another one of the Titans' Golden Spikes winners, Nevin claimed his in 1992. He put up video game-like numbers that season, hitting .402 with 22 home runs and 86 RBIs. Unlike his fellow Golden Spikes winners, Nevin's Player of the Year season did not end with a national championship. The Titans lost in Omaha to Pepperdine in the championship series that year.
Still, Nevin's time in Fullerton won't be forgotten any time soon. His name litters the record books and he went onto a nice big league career as a player while now transitioning into a successful MLB coach, while his son continues to grind it out as one of the Colorado Rockies top prospects. It shouldn't come as a surprise that Nevin has mastered multiple aspects of the game. Nevin was such a dynamic athlete that he was also a Freshman All-American kicker for the football team before becoming a punter as well.
Catcher: Kurt Suzuki (2002-04)
This was another very tough category. You look at a player like Bob Caffery who set the single-season home run record with 28 in 1984 on the way to another national championship in Fullerton. Brent Mayne is a Titans Hall of Famer who holds Fullerton’s longest hitting streak at 38 games. Mark Pirrucello is the all-time home run king and one of the Titans' greatest sluggers of all-time.
But it is Suzuki that gets the nod. Suzuki was the 2004 Johnny Bench Award winner as the best catcher in the nation. He posted a perfect fielding percentage in 2003 and is third all-time with a .996 mark for the Titans. He won a Cal State Fullerton triple crown in 2004, leading the team in average (.413), home runs (16) and RBIs (87). His .390 career average is third-best behind Kotsay and Wallach.
Outfield: John Christensen (1979-81)
Kotsay and Fishel made the first two outfield spots relatively easy to pick, but there were plenty to choose from for the third slot. Christensen was the first back-to-back All-American in program history, earning second team honors in 1980 before landing on the first team in '81. He is in the Titans' top 10 in home runs (42), RBIs (174), and runs (217) as well as on-base and slugging percentage.
Second base: David Bacani (1998-01)
This was a tough one. Justin Turner was a Freshman All-American in 2003 and an All-American again in 2006. His name can be found all over the Fullerton record books. But so can Bacani’s.
Like Turner, Bacani could play a few positions but was a Freshman All-American at second base in 1998 and an All-American in 1999. While his name is in the record books for offensive numbers, he was known to flash the glove and make big plays, still the leader in assists in Fullerton’s history. Bacani is the Titans' all-time leader in runs, walks, and hit-by-pitches, but he’s also in the top five in games played, hits, doubles, triples, total bases and could swipe some bags too, with 70 in his career.
Shortstop: Christian Colon (2008-10)
Another deep position with several options, but it is hard to overlook what Colon accomplished in Fullerton. Colon began his Titans career as a Freshman All-American but didn’t stop there. He earned All-American honors the next two seasons. Colon is still in the top 10 in several categories like hits, runs, and total bases, but his claim to fame is when he and then-teammate Gary Brown were the first pair of Titans to be selected in the first round of the MLB Draft in the same year.
Starting pitcher: Dave Weatherman (1979-81)
It was not easy to pick from the pitching arsenal Fullerton has put together over the years. Curt Lewis was an annual lock for success, leading the team in ERA (1.17) and wins (11) in 1976 before leading the team in wins (12) and strikeouts (65) in '77. Kirk Saarloos is still atop a few categories in the record books as well. You have Tom Eshelman and his ridiculous career 1.65 ERA and Freshman Pitcher of the Year Award and the Titans' all-time strikeout king Wes Roemer and his Player of the Year honors just to name a few.
But Dave Weatherman is the choice for one big reason. He's the Titans' all-time leader in innings pitched (453.1), wins (42) and complete games (25). But ultimately, Weatherman is remembered best for his 1979 CWS performance. After pitching a stinker and getting pulled early, he was told by coach Augie Garrido that he was taking the ball the next day on no rest in the championship game. The Titans then won 2-1, picking up their first national championship and beginning the rise of CSUF to an elite level.
Head coach: Augie Garrido
There are quite a few great coaches that have left their mark on this program, but none of them are at the iconic level of Garrido. There aren’t going to be too many coaches that left their impact on two different programs like Garrido did. Though Florida State’s Mike Martin just surpassed Garrido as the winningest coach in Division I history, there is no denying his greatness. Garrido took the Titans to a national championship in 1979 and 1984 before leaving for Illinois. The Titans skipper came back in time to win one more championship in 1995 for the Titans before heading to Texas to win two more. Most coaches dream of winning a CWS. Garrido did it five times with two different schools.