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Flores Moves Into the Leadoff Spot in Titans’ Rotation

Cal State Fullerton pitcher Benny Flores is the Big West Conference’s biggest winner so far this season with a 9-0 record.

It’s only fair that he move into the spot in the rotation where winning has been the most difficult for the Titans.

Matt Wise was regarded as the Titans’ best pitcher a year ago, was 5-8 while pitching primarily in series openers against the other team’s top pitcher.

Erasmo Ramirez, who has been the series-opening starter most of this season, is 6-5. But that doesn’t reflect the quality of his pitching.

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The rotation changed last weekend against New Mexico State. Flores pitched the opener, Greg Jacobs took the second game and Ramirez moved into the No. 3 spot. It worked for a three-game sweep of the Aggies for 16th-ranked Fullerton (33-12), which has won 13 of the last 14.

The rotation will change slightly this weekend when the Titans play at Long Beach State in what will be their biggest series of the regular season. The teams are tied for first in the Big West Southern Division with 17-4 records and nine conference games to play.

Flores will still pitch the opener with Ramirez in the second game and Jacobs going in Sunday’s finale.

“Our track record is that the first game of the series tends to be the toughest for us, and the Friday night guy has pitched into the toughest luck,” Titan pitching coach Dave Serrano said.

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But Serrano said the change was made with the schedule in mind.

“With the first game of the Nevada series on Thursday two weeks ago, we felt Erasmo needed some work before the next weekend, so we pitched him for two innings in the midweek game and then moved him to Sunday,” Serrano said.

“It’s not that we’re moving one guy ahead of another. We feel like we have three No. 1 starters right now, and they’re all pitching well. But Flores has been the most consistent.”

It wasn’t easy for any of the Titan pitchers last weekend in Las Cruces, where the 3,500-foot altitude and dry desert air favors the hitters. Fullerton still managed to gain two games on Long Beach with the sweep.

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Flores says he’s comfortable pitching the series opener. “It’s the same game, and I just have to keep doing the things I’ve been doing,” he said. “I’m pleased with the way it’s been going. I’m trying to bear down more with runners on base, and I’m trying not to nibble at the corners quite so much. It’s been working.”

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A team from Fullerton finished seventh in last weekend’s national collegiate bowling tournament in Madison, Wis. Wichita State won the title and Michigan State was second.

Fullerton’s Vince Wood had a nine-game average of 209, the fourth best in the tournament, and was named to the all-tournament team.

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Titan distance runner Francisco Vazquez continues to improve.

Vazquez broke his school record in the 10,000 meters last weekend in the Mt. San Antonio College Invitational with a time of 30 minutes 43.77 seconds.

Vazquez also set the school record at 30:58.59 at Stanford three weeks ago.

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“I think he’s starting to come into his own now,” Coach John Elders said. “He trained in Colorado last summer and put in a lot of mileage. It probably hurt him in the cross-country season because his body was tired from all that training, but he’s just now getting the benefits of all that hard work. He’s running strong now.”

Vazquez was 27th in the race but was third among Big West runners, trailing UC Santa Barbara’s Liam Jones (20th) and UC Irvine’s Shawn Frack (22nd).

Fullerton’s female distance runners also did well in the 5,000 and Elders thinks they’re on the verge of doing much better.

Sarah MacDougall was 25th in 17:40.75, Erin Remy 26th in 17:42.75 and Alison Livermore 29th in 17:53.84. Remy’s time was her personal best in the 5,000, her first over that distance in her comeback after a two-year battle with chronic fatigue syndrome.

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“I was pleased with all their times, but they’re all capable of doing better, and I expect it to happen in the next few weeks,” Elders said.

Phil Sitner had a personal best in the 800 meters (1:53.38), Quincy Sims a triple jump of 47 feet 8 inches and Gary Van Sluis a 16-1 3/4 effort in the pole vault last weekend.

Titan Notes

Wrestling Coach Ardeshir Asgari will be an assistant coach for the U.S. team at the University World Championships June 2-7 in Ankara, Turkey. . . . New Mexico State, which has one of the Big West’s top softball teams this season, is coached by JoAnn Ferrieri, third baseman and captain on Fullerton’s 1986 NCAA championship team. She is in her first season with the Aggies. . . . Three former Titans--Heidi Robertson, Sue Lewis and Miki Mangan--will be playing for the Orlando team in the Women’s Professional Fastpitch Softball League this summer. The team is coached by former UCLA Coach Sharron Backus. Lewis is the softball coach at Mt. San Antonio College.

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Coming Attractions

Key events for Cal State Fullerton this week:

* Baseball vs. Long Beach State 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 1 p.m. Sunday at Blair Field.

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* Softball at Long Beach State 1 p.m. Saturday.

* Women’s tennis, at Big West Championships, continues through Saturday at Ojai.

* Men’s and women’s track, Fullerton Open, today at Titan Track Complex, field events begin at 2:30 p.m. and running events at 3:30; and at Cal-Nevada Championships Saturday and Sunday at Fresno.


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