Longo Garcia, who helped Cal State Fullerton's baseball team to a 44-17 record last season, will be the starting pitcher as the Titans open their first season under Larry Cochell at 2:30 today in a game against Cal Poly Pomona on Titan Field.
Garcia had a 10-5 record and a 3.88 earned-run average last season for the Titans, who advanced to the NCAA regionals but lost in the South II Regional final.
The game marks the debut of Cochell, who replaced Augie Garrido last fall. Garrido, who left to become the coach at Illinois, guided the Titans to two NCAA championships during his 15 years at the school.
"I think we have a chance to have a very fine ballclub," Cochell said. "We'll be a good defensive club and we'll score runs. We'll go as far as our pitching will carry us."
Besides Garcia, the Titans return Mark Beck to the starting rotation. Beck, who was the fourth starter last season and a Collegiate Baseball preseason All-American, will miss at least the first week of the season because of a back ailment.
Greg Mannion, an outfielder who was the Titans' fourth-best hitter last season, is the top returning hitter. Mannion hit .306 last season with 10 home runs and 48 runs batted in. Among the other top returning players are second baseman Mike Ross--a first-team all-Pacific Coast Athletic Assn. choice last season--and shortstop Mark Razook, a second-team all-PCAA choice.
The game against Cal Poly Pomona, headed by longtime Coach John Scolinos, is the first of a four-game home stand. A three-game series against Chapman begins Thursday.
"I'm not nervous," said Cochell, who coached at Oral Roberts and Northwestern and will begin his 23rd season as a coach. "It's exciting to start a new season. I think if it gets to be not exciting you should get out of the game."
Dave Rice will be the starting pitcher for the Broncos, who finished 31-29 last season. Scolinos, who has guided the Broncos to three NCAA Division II championships, begins his 28th season at the school.