Red-Hot Gauchos Head to Tucson For Hi Corbett Classic Tourney

Andrew Calica (Photo by Vince Agapito)

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• The Schedule
Friday, Mar. 7 at 2:00 p.m. vs. Mississippi State (10-4)
Saturday, Mar. 8 at 2:00 p.m. vs. Mississippi State
Saturday, Mar. 8 at 7:00 p.m. vs. Arizona (6-6)
Sunday, Mar. 9 at 2:00 p.m. vs. Arizona
All games at Hi Corbett Field in Tucson, Ariz.

All-Time Record vs. Arizona: 7-14
Last meeting: Arizona won 3-game series 2-1 (2000)
All-Time Record vs. Mississippi State: 0-1
Last meeting: 1996

• Hot Start
With a 7-1 record, UCSB is off to its best eight-game start to a season since 1996 (also 7-1). Since dropping the middle game of their series against San Jose State, the Gauchos have reeled off six straight wins for the first time since Mar.7-20, 2010. UCSB hasn't won seven straight since the 2008 season.

• Series Clinchers
After their sweep of Princeton this past weekend, the Gauchos won their eighth consecutive series dating back to last season. UCSB hasn't lost a series since Apr. 12-14, 2013 against Cal State Fullerton. In addition, the Gauchos remain unbeated in home series, as the last away team to win a series at Caesar Uyesaka was Cal State Fullerton in May 2012.

• Offense Firing On All Cylinders
Through eight games, UCSB can boast one of the top all-around offenses in the country. The Gauchos lead the Big West and rank top-5 in the NCAA in all slash categories (.341 batting average ranks third in the country, .442 OBP ranks fifth, .487 slugging percentage ranks fourth) while posting gaudy numbers in doubles (2.63 per game: first in the conference, ninth nationwide) as well. Once UCSB has runners on, it can manufacture scoring as well, evidenced by its of 2.63 stolen bases per game rate (first in the conference, fifth in the country) and eight sac flies (first in the conference and 15th nationwide).

• Ball Magnets
With 97 offensive hit-by-pitches in the 2013 campaign, UCSB set a new program record. So far, the Gauchos have picked up right where they left off last season, as they are currently tied for the NCAA lead with an average of 3.0 plunked batters per game. The Gauchos are currently on pace for 156 HBPs this season. Four UCSB batters (Woodward, Morrow, Calica, Clark) rank among the top-10 in the Big West in hit-by-pitches per game.

• Unstoppable Epperson
Senior third baseman Joey Epperson is off to about the best possible start one could hope for in 2014, as he leads the conference and ranks sixth nationwide with a .500 batting average while ranking third in the country in runs per game. UCSB's leadoff man was named the Big West Player of the Week on Monday after collecting multiple hits in each game and hitting .588 to lead the team to a perfect 4-0 weekend, including an upset over defending national champion and nineteenth-ranked UCLA. It was the second career conference honor for the speedster, who is also 5-5 on stolen base attempts this year.