P.J. Pilittere is a fifth-year senior
catcher at Cal State Fullerton. He capped an outstanding 2003 season with a spot
on the College World Series all-tournament team by hitting .500 (6-12) with
three extra-base hits and three RBI in four games. A native of Walnut, Calif.,
Pilittere is a broadcast journalism major and hopes to pursue a career in
television broadcasting. He will provide weekly insight on the Titans' program.
Feb. 10, 2004
Silence is Golden
Once again, the Titans
began their season with the mighty Cardinal of Stanford. As a fifth-year senior
this was my third trip to fog-friendly Sunken Diamond. Since I have been at
Fullerton, the team’s record is a disappointing 6-12 with four of those losses
coming in the College World Series.
The guys were excited to
finally get a chance to play, as Coach Horton would say, “someone in a different
color.” We are fortunate to play in Southern California, where the sun always
shines. This blessing of good weather may present one of the toughest challenges
I have faced as a college player. Year in and year out, pre-season January
practice is a many-hours-a-day, six-days-a-week, rigorous development period,
preparing us for the long haul of the upcoming season.
The six-hour bus ride to
Stanford was rather pleasant. Our new bus has a DVD player, so we watched
American Wedding, Major League II, and Pirates of the Caribbean.
We pulled into Palo Alto at 5 p.m., and headed straight to Sunken Diamond for
practice. It was misty, so the field tarp was on, which meant batting practice
in the cages. That night at the hotel, sophomore outfielder Danny Dorn,
sophomore infielder Justin Turner and I engaged in an epic battle of Halo on
X-BOX. Dornie was victorious as usual.
Friday January 30 - the day
of reckoning was finally upon us. It felt like we had just played these guys in
Omaha. Well, the game did not turn out quite like we had planned it. We allowed
eight runs on just one hit through two innings. Then the cold air and Cardinal
bats began to put us away. The final score was 16-3, which looks bad, I know.
But this is college baseball, and the scoreboard would be wiped clean the next
Left-handed sophomore Ricky
Romero gave us a solid start on the mound, but our middle relief failed. We got
up off the floor, but still came up one run short and lost 8-7.
We were now sitting on two
losses and trying to avoid a sweep. I was very proud of freshman right-hander
Lauren Gagnier’s performance on the mound. It was exciting to see a first-year
player staring a sweep in the face give his team a chance to win. Our pitching
staff pounded the strike zone, but so did the Cardinal crew in recording a 4-1
This past week was rather
strange and unusual.
Coach Horton was determined
to get us focused and have us be self-accountable for our actions - both
mentally and physically. So he said that practice this week would be silent. No
talking, no cheering, no laughing. This was especially hard for me because I’m
used to being an enthusiastic leader.
We were looking to rebound
quickly at home against the UNLV Rebels. The team was certainly excited to
finally play in front of our outstanding home crowd.
The first win of our young
season would not come easy. Friday night, we pulled out a 9-8, five-hour,
11-inning marathon. It felt good to get our first win and avoid being labeled as
the first Titans team to start a season 0-4.
It was 12:30 a.m. when the
game ended, and most of us had been at the field since 3. Luckily, Saturday’s
was a 6 p.m. start, so we could at least sleep in a little bit.
Saturday’s game was special
- we honored the 1984 national championship team with a ceremony before the
game. Our first win certainly relieved some pressure. Saturday, our offense
landed and finally put up some crooked numbers. Ricky Romero pitched a solid
seven innings, leading us to a 13-1 win.
Sunday games in college
baseball are a test to see which team can remain focused on the task at hand no
matter what has happened the previous two games. Our attitude seemed to be in
place as we jumped out early and never looked back. It was really exciting to
see Jason Windsor close it out in his first outing back from rehab.
We next travel to Arizona
for a three-game set against the Wildcats. This will be my first experience
It looks like the silent
treatment is working, so maybe we will continue to use it.
(photo courtesy of Cal State Fullerton Media Relations Office)