No. 8 UCSB Heads to College World Series For First Time Ever

No. 8 UCSB Heads to College World Series For First Time Ever

UCSB 2016 College World Series Media Guide

• The Schedule (All Times PDT)
Saturday, June 18 at 12:00 PM vs. Oklahoma St.
Monday, June 20 at TBA vs. Miami/Arizona
Additional Games TBA
All games at TD Ameritrade Park in Omaha, Neb.

• The Next Opponent
No. 6 Oklahoma State (41-20)
Big 12 Record / Place: 16-8, 2nd
UCSB's all-time record vs. the Cowboys: 0-1
Last meeting: L, 7-2 in 1990 Regionals at Arizona St.
OK St. streak / last 10: Won 5 / 8-2
OK St. RPI: 21

• Gauchos in Omaha
By virtue of UCSB's dramatic series win in the Louisville Super Regional, handing the Cardinals just their second and third home losses of the year, the Gauchos advanced to the first College World Series in program history. Freshman catcher Sam Cohen sent UCSB to Omaha with a pinch-hit grand slam in the bottom of the ninth inning against All-American closer Zack Burdi for a 4-3 walk-off win in the second game of the series. Shane Bieber and Kyle Nelson combined to hold Louisville to two runs in a series-opening 4-2 win while Austin Bush hit the go-ahead home run, his fourth of the postseason.

• College World Series Primer
The eight team field in the College World Series is divided into two brackets. Each four-team bracket plays each other in double-elimination format (similar to the regionals) until a winner emerges. The two bracket winners face each other for the national title in a best-of-three series (like the Super Regionals). UCSB is grouped in a bracket with Oklahoma State, Miami, and Arizona. The second bracket consists of TCU, Texas Tech, Coastal Carolina, and Florida. 

• UCSB Rolling in the Postseason
In a perfect 5-0 postseason, UCSB has raised its level of play on both sides of the ball. Offensively, players like Clay Fisher (.435/.435/.913, eight extra-base hits), Austin Bush (.833 SLG, four homers), and JJ Muno (.421 average) have stepped up big time. On the mound, UCSB has an ERA of just 2.70 this postseason despite facing some prolific offenses. Much of this is due to Shane Bieber (2-0, 1.88 ERA) and Kyle Nelson (0 ER in 8 IP), but the entire bullpen has an ERA of just 0.93 over the past five games.

• UCSB Reaches First Ever Super Regional
With a perfect 3-0 record in the Nashville Regional hosted by Vanderbilt, UCSB advanced to the first Super Regional in program history.

• Gauchos Back in the NCAA Tournament
For the third time in the last four years, UC Santa Barbara had its name called on Selection Monday, as the Gauchos were picked as the No. 2 seed in the Nashville Regional hosted by Vanderbilt from the SEC. This is the first time in program history that UCSB has reached the NCAA Tournament three times in four years and just the second time the Gauchos have gone to the playoffs in back to back seasons.

• Media Coverage
The entirety of the College World Series will be televised live on the ESPN family of networks. Saturday's game will appear on ESPN2, with all subsequent games to be determined. All CWS games will be available online through WatchESPN (ESPN3). As always, will carry a live audio broadcast of each Gaucho baseball game, with Voice of the Gauchos Gerry Fall on play by play and Kevin Cannon on color.

• A Brief History of the Gauchos in the Postseason
The Gauchos have an overall record of 12-21 all-time in the postseason and have appeared in a Regional 11 times including this year. Previous trips occured in 1952, 1972, 1983, 1986, 1987, 1990, 1996, 2001, 2013, and 2015. Only four other coaches besides Checketts have led UCSB to the NCAA Tournament: Roy Engle ('52), Dave Gorrie ('72), Al Ferrer ('83, '86, '87), and Bob Brontsema ('96, 01'). UCSB had never advance past the Regionals prior to this year. The five victories in this postseason equals the win output of UCSB's past eight trips to the Regional combined, dating back to 1983.

• Postseason Play Under Checketts
This is the third trip to the playoffs under the current Checketts regime. Under Checketts, the Gauchos were a three-seed in the 2013 Corvallis Regional while UCSB was a one-seed and host for the first time in 2015. The Gauchos were one of the first teams out in the one year they missed the dance, 2014, posting a 34-17 record and an RPI of 51. Last year, UCSB hosted USC, eventual national champion Virginia, and San Diego State in the Lake Elsinore Regional, held at Storm Stadium in Lake Elsinore, Calif., a city in western Riverside County and home to the Lake Elsinore Storm of the California League, the Advanced A-level affiliate of the San Diego Padres.

• This is 40
With UCSB's undefeated postseason, the team has reached 42 wins this season, setting a new program record for wins against Division-I opponents (previously 40, 2015). This is the seventh time UCSB has reached 40 wins in a season but just the second time the Gauchos have won 40 in back-to-back years. The program record for overall wins in a season with 46, set in 1984.

• Four Gauchos Earn All-Regional Status
Led by Tournament MVP Austin Bush, a quartet of Gauchos earned 2016 All-Nashville Regional honors. Bush went 5-16 (.313) and hit one home run in each game of the weekend, including the walk-off winner against Washington on Friday and the go-ahead homer in the title game. Clay Fisher made a case for Tournament MVP himself, going 7-15 (.467) with seven RBIs and five extra-base hits, including his first career home run. UCSB's shortstop had three extra-base hits and four RBIs in the title game alone. Other honorees were Andrew Calica (6-13) and Justin Kelly, who earned a win and a save in his two outings. Kelly had the pitching performance of the tournament in UCSB's first game against Xavier, striking out seven of the eight batters he faced. The one batter who he didn't punch out, he picked off at first.

• 2016 Regular Season in Brief
In what was pegged as a rebuilding year by pundits, UCSB jumped out to a hot start in 2016, winning eight of its first nine games including a tournament championship at the inaugural Tony Gwynn Classic in the season's second weekend. UCSB continued to play well early in the season, hitting its peak in mid April with a 25-8-1 record and a No. 9 national ranking. Exacerbated by injuries to starting third baseman Ryan Clark and Saturday starter Noah Davis, the Gauchos went just 12-11 over the final six weeks of the season, finishing in third place in the three-bid Big West Conference. UCSB maintained one of the top RPIs among West region teams all season.

• Winner Winner, Chicken Dinner
So far this season, UCSB has accrued the third most wins (42) in single-season program history, while the team's .700 winning percentage would rank fifth all-time in school history were the season to end today.

• New Year, New Gauchos
Most impressive about UCSB's success this year is that it has been done with almost an entirely new cast of contributors. Among this team's starters, only center fielder Andrew Calica, shortstop Clay Fisher, right-hander Shane Bieber, and left-hander Kyle Nelson were regulars on last year's squad. In all, the 2016 Gauchos had seven new starting position players and three new starting pitchers.

• Five Gauchos Selected in 2016 MLB Draft
Five Gauchos were selected in last week's MLB Draft, led by Shane Bieber (4th rd., CLE). Later picks included OF Andrew Calica (11th rd., CLE) and relief pitchers James Carter (21st rd., LAD), Trevor Bettencourt (25th rd., PHI), and Justin Kelly (33rd rd., LAA).

• Poll Report
Though most polls haven't been updated since the end of the regular season, UCSB jumped to a season-high No. 8 in one that did, Collegiate Baseball. Two weeks ago, the Gauchos appeared in a pair of major national polls this week, checking in as high as No. 21 (NCBWA) while also coming in at No. 23 (USA Today Coaches Poll).

• Home Cooking
As has become tradition in the Checketts era, UCSB had another dominant year on its home turf in 2016, going 24-6 (.800 winning percentage). UCSB has won exactly 80 percent of its games at Caesar Uyesaka Stadium since the beginning of the 2014 season (76-19) while the Gauchos have posted a 112-48 mark (.700 winning percentage) in Santa Barbara over the entirety of the Checketts era (since '12). Earlier this year, UCSB won 14 straight at home (Mar. 1 - May 10), the longest home winning streak in program history.

• Feeling A Draft
Since Andrew Checketts' hiring in 2011, no Big West program has had more players drafted than UCSB (27). That total includes a program-record 10 draftees in 2015, headlined by No. 4 overall pick Dillon Tate (TEX) and fifth-rounder Justin Jacome (MIA).

• Minimizing Mistakes
One thing UCSB has consistently done better than its opposition this season is minimizing its mistakes. On the year, there are sharp contrasts for the Gauchos in walks (217 drawn, 188 issued), hits by pitch (91 UCSB batter hits, 46 opponents plunked), and errors (64 committed by UCSB, 85 by opponents).

• On A Roll
Starting on Mar. 12 against Hartford and ending on Mar. 26 against USC, the Gauchos won nine straight games, tied for the longest win streak in the Checketts era and the longest the program has seen since 1990 (11 games). The school's longest win streak is 12 games, set in 1984.

• In Control
Headlined by two pitchers with top control numbers in the Big West, UCSB has once again been effective this season in limiting free passes. The Gauchos are averaging 3.08 walks per nine innings as a team, a figure which ranks 37th nationally. Shane Bieber (1.14 BB/9, 15th in NCAA) and Kyle Nelson (2.14, 12th in Big West) have been some of the premier control pitchers on the west coast.

• Eight Gauchos Named to All-Big West Team
Eight players from the Gauchos were selected to the 2016 All-Big West Team, highlighted by First Team choices Shane Bieber and Kyle Nelson. JJ Muno and Austin Bush garnered Second Team selections, while Ryan Clark, Clay Fisher, Andrew Calica, and Devon Gradford all earned honorable mentions.

• UCSB Wins Inaugural Tony Gwynn Classic
With an 11-4 win over then No. 22 Kentucky, a 16-2 drubbing of Bryant, and a 9-3 victory over San Diego in the Championship Game, UCSB won the inaugural Tony Gwynn Classic hosted by USD and San Diego State. The Gauchos outscored their opponents 36-9 in the regional emulation, which took place from Feb. 26-28.

• Out of Your League
UCSB has been tough to beat outside the Big West in the past couple years, going 81-21 against non-conference opponents since the beginning of the 2014 season (.794 winning percentage). The Gauchos are 29-7 so far this year in non-league competition.

• Keep the Ice Packs Ready ... Again
Led by Andrew Calica's UCSB-record 24 hits by pitch this season, the Gauchos are having another historically painful season in the batter's box. As a team, UCSB has accrued 91 HBPs so far this season, which already ranks fourth all-time in single-season UCSB history. In each of the last three seasons, UCSB has produced a top-five mark in HBPs, including a program record 98 in 2014. Besides Calica, JJ Muno (18 HBPs, third all-time at UCSB) and Kyle Plantier (12) have been bruised and battered throughout the season. The Gauchos rank eighth in the NCAA in HBPs.

• Sleepers
As mentioned before, big things were not expected from the UCSB baseball team this season. The Gauchos were picked to finish fourth in the nine-team Big West in the annual preseason poll of conference coaches.

• Six is the Magic Number
With a solid pitching staff in tow, UCSB has proven its hard to beat with even a medium amount of run support. So far in 2016, the Gauchos are an undefeated 23-0 when scoring six or more runs.

• Taking Offense
Though the team's batting average dipped at the end of the regular season, UCSB still has the Big West's top run-producing offense. Averaging 5.4 runs per game, the Gauchos also lead the league in HBPs while ranking second in stolen bases, (76) third in on-base percentage (.355), and second in slugging percentage (.375).

• You're Right
Over the course of the the season, UCSB has overall been better against right-handed pitchers. The Gauchos are 26-11 this year when a righty starts against them compared to a 16-7 mark against lefties. In addition, UCSB is hitting about 30 points higher against righties than lefties as a team (.273 vs. .241). That being said, UCSB has downed a lefty starter in four straight postseason games.

• RPI Report
One of the few teams outside the SEC or ACC to have a top-25 RPI, UCSB ended the season at No. 24 in the NCAA's index. UCSB's RPI was buoyed by a strong non-conference RPI (No. 9) and one of the highest non-conference strength of schedules (No. 32) of any western team. The Gauchos reached as high as No. 7 in the RPI over the course of the season.

• Comeback Kings
It's probably not in the game plan, but UCSB certainly doesn't seem to have any issues falling behind in ballgames this year, as they actually have practically the same record when their opponent scores first (23-10, .697 W%) as when they get on the board first (19-8, .703 W%). UCSB has won six games this season in which they've trailed heading into the eighth inning.

• Drama Majors
UCSB has registered a program-record six walk-off wins this season, including two in the postseason.Bush has hit two walk-off home runs and Cohen hit a walk-off grand slam to send UCSB to the CWS. Dempsey Grover (SF) and Michael McAdoo (FC) have the other walk off hits. UCSB walked off the other on a wild pitch.

• Game One Recap of Nashville Regional – UCSB def. (3) Washington 3-2 in 14 innings
UCSB's resident go-to man for clutch home runs, Austin Bush, saved the most important big fly of his career for the regional opener, blasting a solo shot over the right field fence in the bottom of the 14th inning to give his team a 3-2 walk-off win over three-seed Washington in the first game of the Nashville Regional. The Gaucho pitching staff held the Huskies without a hit for the final seven innings of the game and limited them to just two runs over the entirety of the contest. Shane Bieber got the ball rolling with 7.1 solid innings of one-run ball. He handed off to Kyle Nelson with one out on the ninth, and UCSB's relief ace proceeded to rack up a career-high seven strikeouts over four-plus innings. Righty Trevor Bettencourt and lefty Justin Kelly each got four outs without allowing a hit deep in extra innings. UCSB collectively set a new program record with 17 pitching strikeouts in the four-hour, 45-minute affair at Hawkins Field. Devon Gradford also made a huge play, hitting a home run in the bottom of the 12th to extend the game after UW scored in the top of the frame.

• Game Two Recap of Nashville Regional – UCSB def. (4) Xavier 5-4
UC Santa Barbara booked its trip to the Vanderbilt Regional final after holding on for a 5-4 victory on Sunday afternoon in the winner's bracket game against Xavier at Hawkins Field. UCSB stormed out to a 5-0 lead through 3.5 innings against XU starter Trent Astle. But starting in the bottom of the fourth, the Musketeers' bats started to come alive, plating runs in three straight innings and cutting their deficit to just one in the sixth. Justin Kelly saved the win for UCSB, facing the minimum over 2.2 IP and striking out 7 batters.

• Game Three Recap of Nashville Regional – UCSB def. (4) Xavier 14-5
UCSB clinched its first ever trip to the Super Regionals with a 14-5 rout of Xavier in the Regional title game. XU scored a pair of runs in the first and looked to have all the momentum early on as starter Greg Jacknewitz went nine-up, nine-down in the first three innings. UCSB adjusted their second time through the lineup, unloading for nine runs in the fourth, tied for their biggest inning of the year. Austin Bush and Clay Fisher each mashed three-run homers as part of that big inning. Joe Record held the Musketeers at bay after that first inning.

• Game One Recap of Louisville Super Regional – UCSB def. No. 2 Louisville 4-2
Behind a rock-solid seven inning start from Shane Bieber, UCSB defeated Louisville 4-2 in the first game of the Super Regionals. After falling behind 1-0 early, UCSB tweaked their approach against Louisville starter Brendan McKay – a projected first rounder in next year's draft – scoring off the southpaw in three of four innings starting with Clay Fisher's run-scoring bloop double down the first base line in the third. Austin Bush followed with a go-ahead solo homer in the fourth before Kyle Plantier drove in the eventual game-winner with an RBI double down the left field line. Bieber held the Cards to just two runs over his seven innings and Kyle Nelson pitched two shutout innings of relief to preserve the W.

• Game Two Recap of Louisville Super Regional – UCSB def. No. 2 Louisville 4-3
After getting shut out for eight innings by Louisville starter Drew Harrington, Sam Cohen rescued UCSB from a third game in the Supers and send the team to its first College World Series with a pinch-hit grand slam off All-American closer Zack Burdi with one out in the ninth. The third-string catcher unloaded on a 1-2 changeup to end the game for the Gauchos. JJ Muno started that rally with a single before Burdi walked back to back batters to load the bases. Noah Davis was solid over 5.1 innings, allowing three runs, while the bullpen combined for 3.2 shutout frames.