Baseball Welcomes San Jose State for Three at Caesar Uyesaka Stadium

Armani Smith (photo by Eric Isaacs)
Armani Smith (photo by Eric Isaacs)

Big West TV

• The Schedule
Friday, Mar. 23 at 3:00 p.m. PT vs. San Jose State (9-10)
Saturday, Mar. 24 at 2:00 p.m. PT vs. San Jose State
Sunday, Mar. 25 at 1:00 p.m. PT vs. San Jose State
at Caesar Uyesaka Stadium
All-time record vs. the Spartans: 46-51
Record vs. SJSU under Checketts: 8-1
UCSB home record / SJSU away record: 5-5-1 / 2-4
UCSB Streak / Last 10:  Lost 1 / 4-5-1
SJSU Streak / Last 10:  Won 1 / 4-6

• The Week Ahead
This weekend, UCSB continues a six-weekend homestand with a three-game set against San Jose 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 Pitchers
Friday: LHP Jack Dashwood (0-3, 5.74 ERA) vs. RHP Josh Goldberg (2-1, 4.74 ERA)
Saturday:  RHP Chris Lincoln (0-1, 2.16 ERA) vs. LHP Andrew Mitchel (2-0, 7.29 ERA)
Sunday: RHP Stevie Ledesma (0-1, 3.75 ERA) vs. RHP Nick Morales (1-3, 7.77 ERA)

• The Week in Review
UCSB dropped two of three last week in a home series against Sacramento State. The Gauchos gave up seven runs late in a 12-3 series-opening loss, a contest which had to be completed on Saturday after rain forced a suspension after five innings on Friday. UCSB bounced back to take game two of the series by a score of 10-2, with the Gauchos roughing up Sac St. starter Parker Brahms, who had entered the game with a 28-inning scoreless streak and the nation's lowest ERA. Sophomore Chris Lincoln and Ben Brecht combined to hold the Hornets to just two runs, with Brecht allowing just one hit - a bloop double - and retiring the final 12 batters he faced in a standout five-inning relief effort. UCSB mustered just one hit in Sunday's series finale, falling 2-0. 

• Swatting the Spartans
UCSB has dominated the series against San Jose State since head coach Andrew Checketts took over before the 2012 season. The Gauchos and Spartans played three-game series in each of Checketts' first three years, with UCSB sweeping the first two and then winning two of three in 2014. The two haven't played each other since that 2014 series, the longest gap without playing each other since 2000. UCSB and San Jose State have faced each other in 14 of the last 18 years (UCSB leads the series 22-19 since 2000). 

• Standout Debuts
Making their first starts of the 2018 season last weekend, senior righty Stevie Ledesma and sophomore right-hander Chris Lincoln both made solid cases to remain rotation members going forward. Getting the start in Sunday's rubber match, Ledesma scattered four hits over six shutout innings, the longest scoreless outing of his Gaucho career. Ledesma was an all-state starting pitcher at Ventura CC before transferring to UCSB. Getting rewarded with a Saturday start after being UCSB's top relief pitcher statistically early on, Lincoln surrendered just two runs in four-plus innings and retired eight straight at one point. At 2.16, Lincoln has the lowest ERA on the UCSB staff among pitchers with at least two innings.

• Offense Waking Up
After a slow start to the season, UCSB's offense is starting to show signs of life. The Gauchos are slashing .298/.373/.461 as a team in March and are averaging just under six runs per game, compared to a .204/.309/.295 line and under four runs per game in February. Jason Willow (.375 batting average), Tommy Jew (.353) and Andrew Martinez (.324) have been UCSB's hottest hitters this month.  

• 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 .531 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 .461 winning percentage.

• In Control
UCSB has done fairly well as a team this year in limiting free passes. The Gauchos are currently averaging 2.86 walks per nine innings, which ranks 18th in the country and second in the Big West. Coupled with the team's high strikeout rate - eight Gaucho hurlers are averaging over a strikeout per inning - UCSB has a league-leading 3.08 strikeout to walk ratio (15th nationally).

• Non-Conference, No Problem
UCSB has posted a 104-51 mark against non-league opponents since 2014 (.671 winning percentage). 

• Home Cooking
The Gauchos have fared extremely well at Caesar Uyesaka Stadium under Andrew Checketts, crafting a .677 winning percentage (126-60) at home, nearly 20% higher than their road winning percentage over that same span (.482). Heading into the weekend, UCSB is hitting .299 in home games (over 50 points higher than their opponents: .244) and has an ERA nearly a run and a half lower than visiting teams (4.12 to 5.44).