First the numbers on Conant's start against Nebraska - 3 innings, 1 hit, 2 runs (both earned), 2 strikeouts and 2 walks. He faced 13 batters and threw 42 pitches, 23 for strikes. I'd say he was slightly unlucky in the way that the runs were scored on him - a couple of sacrifice bunts and some well placed ground balls - but he didn't do himself any favours by consistently falling behind in the count on most batters. He threw a first pitch strike to only 6 of the 13 hitters he faced but in this night, but so did most of the other Titan pitchers.
In the end, Conant left a tie ball game but with some big bats in the later innings, Cal State Fullerton ended up with a comfortable 10-4 win. After putting the first 2 batters on with a walk and an HBP, Conant seemed to shake off the first inning jitters and settle in a bit. He was hit pretty hard a couple of times but overall, I think it was a great experience that he can hopefully build on. He did struggle somewhat with his control and that is something he can work on, but he does throw hard and is an imposing presence on the mound, standing at 6 feet 5 inches.
door. It seems like the Titans were giving some mid-week action to their freshman against a weaker hitting Nebraska team and both of our boys benefited by seeing some decent action.
Conant also saw the field in the most recent outing, a 3-2 loss to Loyola Marymount on Tuesday. Here he faced one batter in a the pivotal seventh inning. With the Titans clinging to a 1-0 lead, he entered the game with runners on first and second and one out. After getting behind in the count, Conant gave up a single to load the bases.
Enter Joe Navilhon. Our other baby 'Cat came in and ended up pitching the rest of the seventh and all of the eighth. Although his line looks respectable for 1 and 2/3 innings - 1 hit, no runs, one walk and 2 strikeouts - the seventh was a bit of a nightmare. With the bases loaded, Navilhon got behind in the count and threw a wild pitch to score a run before giving up a single to score another. With the Titans now down 2-1, a couple more wild pitches saw another run cross the plate before he settled in and got the last two outs.
The eighth inning was much better and after walking the first batter, he retired the next two and got some help from his catcher in nailing a runner attempting to steal second. Overall, Navilhon seems to have a decent fastball and definitely some nice bending pitches (slider and curve) that he struggled with a bit, but again, a pretty stressful situation to address. It was good to see the Titans stick with him after he cleared the bases in the seventh and I think he'll be the better man for it. Even though they lost the game 3-2, the experience that both our freshman got in this game, and in the previous one against Nebraska, is all part of the growing process. Getting a start or having to come into a bases-loaded jam is all part getting the feel at the next level of baseball.
It really is great being able to watch these guys on-line as the Big West network saves all the games so you can go back and watch pretty much any game. I'd encourage you to go and find these games and give them a look. Now I'm curious as to how they will be used this summer when they are getting even more seasoning here in the WCL. My guess is that Conant will end up a starter for the HarbourCats and I'm really not sure on Navilhon as I haven't seen him pitch enough yet. The fact that he entered the last game with the bases loaded makes me think he could be a set up guy or maybe the closer, even though I believe he was a consistent starter in high school.