Gauchos Host Penn State to Start 21-of-22 Homestand

Andrew Martinez (photo by Eric Isaacs)
Andrew Martinez (photo by Eric Isaacs)

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• The Schedule
Saturday, Mar. 3 at 2:00 p.m. PT vs. Penn State (3-3)
Sunday, Mar. 4 at 2:00 p.m. PT vs. Penn State
Monday, Mar. 5 at 2:00 p.m. vs. Penn State
at Caesar Uyesaka Stadium
All-time record vs. the Nittany Lions: first meeting
UCSB home record / PSU away record (2017) : 16-14 / 6-21
UCSB Streak / Last 10:  Lost 1 / 2-6

PSU Streak / Last 10:  Lost 3 / 3-3

• The Week Ahead
This weekend, UCSB returns to Caesar Uyesaka Stadium to host Penn State – in the first-ever matchup between the two schools – for a three-game series starting on Saturday. All games are slated for 2:00 p.m. starts. This weekend's games start a stretch that sees the Gauchos play 21 of the next 22 games at home.

• Projected Starting Pitchers
Saturday: LHP Jack Dashwood (0-1, 7.20 ERA) vs. RHP Justin Hagenman (1-0, 0.82 ERA)
Sunday: RHP Noah Davis (0-1, 16.88 ERA) vs. LHP Taylor Lehman (1-0, 1.80 ERA)
Monday: LHP Ben Brecht (0-0, 4.26 ERA) vs. LHP Dante Biasi (0-1, 15.43 ERA)

• The Week in Review
UCSB last week traveled to Corpus Christi, Tex. to take part in the 2018 Kleberg Bank College Classic, hosted by Texas A&M-Corpus Christi at Whataburger Field, home of the Double-A Hooks (Houston). The Gauchos opened with narrow losses to No. 21 Mississippi State on Friday and TAMCC on Saturday, but recovered with an 8-6 triumph over Nicholls State on Sunday. Five Gaucho regulars hit over .300 for the tourney, led by outfielder/catcher Thomas Rowan's .385 mark, while UCSB starting pitchers held the opposition to one earned run or fewer in two of three games. The Gauchos were limited to one hit a 6-1 midweek loss at Fresno State on Wednesday night. 

• Non-Conference, No Problem
UCSB has traditionally excelled against out-of-league competition, posting a 100-46 record against non-conference opponents since the beginning of 2014, good for a .685 winning percentage. 

• Home Cooking
The Gauchos will be happy to put their longest stretch of road games behind them and return to Caesar Uyesaka Stadium this weekend, where they have fared extremely well under Andrew Checketts, crafting a .689 winning percentage (122-55) at home, nearly 20% higher than their road winning percentage over that same span (.482, 67-72). Over the last seven years, UCSB has dropped just three non-conference series at home (SDSU in 2017, Oregon in 2015, Oregon State in 2012). 

• Dayman, Fighter of the Nightman
Another benefit of the team's upcoming homestand? UCSB's next 22 games are all day games. The Gauchos have done relatively well in day games so far (.297 team batting average, 3.86 team ERA) while they have struggled under the lights. 

• Taking a Walk
One area where the Gauchos have succeeded so far this season is in the base on balls department, as the team's batters have drawn 31 walks compared to the 23 issued by the pitching staff. On the offensive side, UCSB ranks second in the conference behind Cal Poly's 34 walks. Before last night's game, UCSB's hurlers combined to issue just six walks over four games including back-to-back walk-free contests (against Fresno State and Mississippi State), a first for the program in the Checketts era. 

• 10 is the Magic Number
UCSB has managed to reach the 10-hit plateau three times over its last five games, including a 13-hit, eight-run outburst (both season highs) on Sunday against Nicholls State in the finale of the Kleberg Bank College Classic. Reaching that mark has been a recipe for success for the Gauchos, as they are 2-1 this year when doing so and they were 21-6 in 2017 when collecting 10 or more hits. 

• 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 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, D1Baseball pegged UCSB as the No. 38 program in the country,  second-best in the Big West and fourth-best in California.

• 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 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 this offseason. UCSB has put together a nationally-ranked recruiting class five of the past six seasons, including three groups ranked among the top-20 nationally.