One year after failing to reach a Super Regional for the first time since 2002, the Cal State Fullerton Titans open their 2012 college baseball season with a tough task, facing the consensus No. 1 Florida Gators in a three-game series on the road beginning Friday afternoon at McKethan Stadium in Gainesville. New head coach Rick Vanderhook, longtime Fullerton assistant, coaches his first game with the Titans on Friday.
The Titans were ranked No. 25 in the preseason poll by Baseball America, No. 21 by Collegiate Baseball, and No. 16 in the USA Today / ESPN coaches poll. The Gators were ranked No. 1 in all three polls.
The Gators are coming off a 53-19 season that saw them lose the College World Series championship to SEC rival South Carolina. They return a deep team, with seven preseason All-Americans per Baseball America. This is the first-ever matchup between Fullerton and Florida.
Since 1981, Cal State Fullerton is 12-21 in games against teams ranked No. 1 by Baseball America. Here is a look at the series schedule:
Game 1 - Friday, 4 p.m. PST
Dylan Florio, the junior right-hander who was 4-2 with a 4.23 ERA in 25 games, including 21 in relief, in 2011, gets the opening day start for Fullerton. Hudson Randall, who was 11-3 with a 2.17 ERA for Florida last year, gets the call for the Gators.
Game 2 - Saturday, 1 p.m. PST
Redshirt freshman RHP Grahamm Wiest makes his first collegiate start for the Titans; Karston Whitson (8-1 with a 2.40 ERA in 2011) starts for Florida.
Game 3 - Sunday, 11 a.m. PST
Brian Johnson (8-3 with a 3.62 ERA in 2011) starts for the Gators. Fullerton has yet to name their Sunday starter.
Audio for all three games of this series will be streamed online for free at FullertonTitans.com. Friday's game will be televised on Fox Sports Florida.