Gauchos Set to Host Sac State in Three-Game Set

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

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• The Schedule
Friday, Mar. 16 at 3:00 p.m. PT vs. Sacramento State (6-10)
Saturday, Mar. 17 at 2:00 p.m. PT vs. Sacramento State
Sunday, Mar. 18 at 1:00 p.m. PT vs. Sacramento State
at Caesar Uyesaka Stadium
All-time record vs. the Hornets: 31-24-2
Record vs. Hornets under Checketts: 4-2
UCSB home record / Sac St. away record: 4-3-1 / 1-3
UCSB Streak / Last 10:  Won 1 / 4-5-1
Sac St. Streak / Last 10:  Won 1 / 4-6

• The Week Ahead
This weekend, UCSB continues a six-weekend homestand with a three-game set against Sacramento State starting on Friday at 3:00 p.m. The Gauchos are in the midst of a span that sees them play 21 of 22 games at home, and the team will not leave the state of California for the remainder of the regular season. All three games this weekend will have live audio and video broadcasts available through UCSBGauchos.com. 

• Projected Starting Pitcher
Friday: LHP Jack Dashwood (0-2, 4.98 ERA) vs. RHP Scott Randall (2-2, 5.62 ERA)
Saturday:  RHP Chris Lincoln (0-1, 1.42 ERA, making his first start of 2018) vs. RHP Parker Brahms (1-0, 0.00 ERA)
Sunday: RHP Stevie Ledesma (0-1, 7.50 ERA, making his first start of 2018) vs. RHP Austin Root (2-1, 2.42 ERA)

• The Week in Review
UCSB has gone 1-2-1 over the last week, losing a home series against Texas State before recovering for a 15-5 midweek win over Dartmouth on Wednesday. UCSB dropped a 1-0 pitcher's duel on Friday before losing the opener and tying in the nightcap of a Sunday doubleheader. Saturday's scheduled contest was postponed a day due to rain. The Gauchos out-hit TXST 7-3 in Friday's series-opener, but stranded 10 runners on base. UCSB's clutch-hitting was an issue on Sunday as well as the team finished the series with a .138 batting average with runners in scoring position (4-29). The Gauchos clubbed a Checketts era record eight extra-base hits against Dartmouth, including back-to-back-to-back homers as part of a go-ahead, seven-run rally in the sixth inning. 

• Bringing Out the Bats
UCSB set a number of Checketts-era record and hit a number of milestones in Wednesday's win, including:
-Eight extra-base hits (Checketts era record, most since Mar. 7, 2009; 11 vs. CSUN)
-First three-triple game since Feb. 22, 2013 vs. San Francisco
-First three-home run inning since May 23, 2009 (Mark Haddow, Brian Gump, Ryan Cavan vs. UC Irvine)
-First back-to-back-to-back homers in program's recorded history 
-Tommy Jew's go-ahead grand slam in the sixth inning was UCSB's first grand slam since Sam Cohen's walk-off winner at Louisville in the 2016 Super Regional

• Offense Waking Up
After a slow start to the season, UCSB's offense is starting to show signs of life. The Gauchos are slashing .307/.395/.483 as a team in March and are averaging just under seven runs per game, compared to a .204/.309/.295 line and under four runs per game in February. Jason Willow (.423 average, .500 slugging percentage), Jew (.409, .727) and Clay Fisher (.367, .533) have been UCSB's hottest hitters this month.

• No Bull from the Bullpen
UCSB's bullpen collectively has done a nice job for the most part this season, combining for a 3.66 ERA over 66 1/3 innings (Gaucho starters have allowed 36 earned runs in 62 2/3 innings for a 5.17 ERA). The Gauchos have leaned heavily on the right-handed trio of Chris Lincoln (1.42 ERA, 12.2 IP), Alex Patterson (3.00 ERA, 11.2 IP), and Chris Troye (3.00 ERA, 9 IP) to eat up the majority of bullpen innings.  

• Looking Forward
Having played ranked teams in SDSU and Mississippi St. as well as teams with excellent win-loss records such as Fresno St. and Texas St., the Gauchos' road so far this year has been among the toughest in the country, with a combined .557 winning percentage that ranks in the top-100 nationally. However, things may lighten up the rest of the way, as the Gauchos' future opponents have just a .454 winning percentage.

• Take A Seat
While results have been up and down, UCSB has consistently done well in two inter-related areas: striking out opponents while limiting free passes. UCSB's 9.1 strikeouts per nine innings ratio – six Gaucho hurlers are currently striking out more than a batter per inning led by Ben Brecht's 15.43 K/9 ratio – and 3.13 walks per nine both rank second in the Big West and among the top-50 nationally. 

• Non-Conference, No Problem
UCSB has posted a 103-49 mark against non-league opponents since 2014 (.678 winning percentage). 

• Home Cooking
The Gauchos have fared extremely well at Caesar Uyesaka Stadium under Andrew Checketts, crafting a .683 winning percentage (125-58) at home, nearly 20% higher than their road winning percentage over that same span (.482). Heading into the weekend, UCSB is hitting .307 in home games (over 60 points higher than their opponents: .243) and has an ERA nearly two runs lower than visiting teams (3.65 to 5.82).