Gaucho Baseball Opens 2018 Campaign On the Road at San Diego State

Noah Davis (photo by Eric Isaacs)
Noah Davis (photo by Eric Isaacs)

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• The Schedule
Friday, Feb.  15 at 6:00 p.m. PT vs. San Diego State
Saturday, Feb. 16 at 6:00 p.m. PT vs. San Diego State
Sunday, Feb. 17 at 1:00 p.m. PT vs. San Diego State
at Tony Gwynn Stadium in San Diego, Calif.
All-time record vs. the Aztecs: 9-34-1
Record vs. SDSU in Checketts era: 1-3
UCSB away record / SDSU home record (2017) : 8-18 / 19-11
2017 series: SDSU wins two of three at UCSB
UCSB Streak / Last 10:  N/A / N/A
SDSU Streak / Last 10:  N/A / N/A

• Projected Starting Pitchers
Friday: RHP Noah Davis vs. RHP Logan Boyer
Saturday: LHP Jack Dashwood vs. RHP Harrison Pyatt
Sunday: RHP Chris Clements vs. RHP Garrett Hill 

• Gauchos on the Air
UCSBGauchos.com will carry live audio broadcasts of each game of the SDSU series, with Kevin Cannon calling play-by-play. 

• A New Season Begins
UCSB baseball kicks off the 2018 campaign this weekend with a three-game set at San Diego State. The Gauchos will play the first two games of the series under the lights at Tony Gwynn Stadium before playing a 1:00 p.m. game on getaway day before returning to Caesar Uyesaka Stadium to host Fresno State on Opening Day this Wednesday, Feb. 21. 

• Welcome Back!
When the season opens this weekend, head coach Andrew Checketts will welcome back four starting position players and three starting pitchers. Standout returners include Tommy Jew (.295 average in 2017, League MVP of New England Collegiate Baseball League), Sam Cohen (2017 All-Big West Honorable Mention, 2016 postseason hero at Louisville), and Noah Davis (career 14-8 record, nailed down UCSB's first College World Series win, against Miami, in 2016). In addition, the Gauchos will be boosted by the return of All-American shortstop Clay Fisher, who returns to UCSB after undergoing Tommy John Surgery and opting not to sign with the Cincinnati Reds, who selected him in last summer's draft. 

• Program on the Rise
Though the Gauchos recorded a sub-.500 record last season – the first losing season in Checketts' six years at the helm – observers around the country still recognize that UCSB Baseball is a program on the rise, evidenced by the team's three trips to the postseason, first-ever College World Series berth (2016), and first-ever Regional hosting appointment (2015) in the past five seasons. Because of that, national outlet D1Baseball pegged UCSB as the No. 38 program in the country, which is second-best in the Big West and fourth-best among California programs. 

• Rolling on the Recruit Trail
While UCSB has experienced a golden age of on-field success over the past five years, the program has done equally well on the recruiting trail. This past offseason, recruiting coordinator Eddie Cornejo, Checketts, and the rest of the coaching staff brought in the No. 19 recruit class (per Collegiate Baseball). The Gauchos were the only Big West program to appear in every major recruit class rankings. UCSB has put together a nationally-ranked recruiting class five of the past six seasons, and on three occasions had classes ranked in the top-20. 

• Gauchos Thrive in Summer Leagues Around the Country
Collectively, UCSB players experienced a high level of success in summer collegiate leagues around the country in 2017. Center fielder Tommy Jew was named the NECBL Most Valuable Player, while he was joined on the NECBL All-Star Team by Gaucho teammate Kevin Chandler. Elsewhere, senior right-hander Steven Ledesma made the All-Alaska League team while sophomore hurler Chris Lincoln was tabbed as the No. 1 prospect of the West Coast League. Jew (No. 5 – NECBL), Davis (No. 23 – Cape Cod League), and Armani Smith (No. 5 – Alaska League) were also cited as top prospects from their respective leagues.

• Fab Freshmen
Anchoring UCSB's recruiting class are four freshmen who were listed among the top first-year players in the country by Perfect Game. Pitcher/outfielder Ben Fariss (No. 75), right-hander Chris Troye (No. 91), infielder Jason Willow (No. 108), and left-hander Jorge Arellano (No. 225) all made the cut. All of those besides Troye were drafted by MLB teams, and Troye has carved out a significant role in the Gaucho pitching staff. UCSB had the most players listed among Big West teams, and had three of the top four prospects in the conference. 

• Hitting the Ground Running
The Gauchos will waste no time putting themselves to the test in 2018, as the team opens the season with seven of eight away from home, including the only two non-conference road series of the year. The Gauchos start a stretch that sees them host home series for six straight weekends on Mar. 3. 

• Gauchos Tabbed to Finish Fourth
UC Santa Barbara was picked to finish fourth in the ultra-competitive Big West Conference, as voted on in the Preseason Coaches Poll. Cal State Fullerton was selected to win the league title, while Long Beach State and Cal Poly finished above the Gauchos in the poll. 

• UCSB Quick Fact
UCSB is 4-2 on Opening Day under Andrew Checketts, but has rallied to win four straight after dropping the first two of his tenure. Similarly, they have won four of their six opening series under Checketts. 

• By the Numbers: 4-7
UCSB's record last season in night games. The Gauchos will play two of their eight scheduled night games of 2018 this weekend at San Diego State.