Gauchos Host USC in Tuesday Tune-Up

Michael McAdoo (photo by Eric Isaacs)
Michael McAdoo (photo by Eric Isaacs)

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• The Schedule
Tuesday, Apr. 3 at 3:00 p.m. PT vs. USC (13-11)
at Caesar Uyesaka Stadium
All-time record vs. the Trojans: 43-59-1
Record vs. USC under Checketts: 8-2
UCSB home record / USC away record: 10-6-1 / 3-6
UCSB Streak / Last 10:  Won 2 / 7-3
USC Streak / Last 10:  Lost 2 / 3-7

Friday, Apr. 6 at 3:00 p.m. PT vs. UTRGV (16-12)
Saturday, Apr. 7 at 2:00 p.m. PT vs. UTRGV
Sunday, Apr. 8 at 1:00 p.m. PT vs. UTRGV
at Caesar Uyesaka Stadium
All-time record vs. the Vaqueros: First Meeting
UCSB home record / UTRGV away record: 10-6-1 / 3-5
UCSB Streak / Last 10:  Won 2 / 7-3
UTRGV Streak / Last 10:  Lost 2 / 6-4

• The Week Ahead
This week, UCSB wraps up a 21-of-22 game homestand by hosting USC for a Tuesday tune-up before welcoming in UTRGV this weekend in the team's conference bye week. All four games this week will have live audio and video broadcasts available through UCSBGauchos.com.

• The Week in Review
UCSB is coming off the first week of Big West action, as the Gauchos welcomed Cal State Fullerton and overcame a no-hitter by CSF in the Thursday opener to take two of three overall, putting UCSB in a four-way tie for first place. A ninth inning go-ahead, pinch-hit RBI single from Drew Williams helped UCSB survive a late Titans charge in Friday's contest, as the visitors tied the game at 5-5 with three runs in the late innings. Stevie Ledesma held CSF to one run over 7 2/3 innings and two runs in the sixth – on a Williams single and a Sam Cohen sac fly – held up as UCSB was able to take the series from Fullerton for the first time since 2014. Last Tuesday's midweek at Pepperdine was suspended due to darkness, and will be resumed when the Waves visit Caesar Uyesaka Stadium on May 8. 

• Strikeouts Are Good, Walks Are Bad
The UCSB pitching staff enters the weekend with a 2.60 strikeout-to-walk ratio, a figure which ranks first in the Big West and 42nd nationally. Shea Barry (12.0), Luke Andrews (5.0), and Jack Dashwood (3.8) are all Gauchos that have logged significant innings this year with outstanding K-BB ratios. UCSB has done well in limiting free passes in general, as its 3.01 team walks per nine ratio ranks 21st in the country and trails only Hawaii (2.77) in the Big West. 

• Trouncing the Trojans
Despite being one of the most successful programs in college baseball history, USC has fared poorly against the Gauchos under the Checketts regime. UCSB is leading the series 8-2 during that span (since 2012) and has won four straight overall dating to 2016. The Trojans have never won a game at Caesar Uyesaka Stadium (0-5) with Checketts in the home dugout. 

• Reversing the Trends
During its current 7-3 run, UCSB has begun to turn around some of the trends that have been haunting the team recently. The Gauchos have won three straight one-run games (they were 0-4 previously in one-run contests) and also have been pulling out low-scoring contests, winning three games in March when scoring four runs or fewer, a feat they accomplished just once previously since the start of the 2017 season.

• New-Look Rotation Getting It Done
Though the rotation has only been in its current configuration for three weekends, the Gauchos' recent weekend starts are already showing positive results. Over the last three weekend series, the starters have combined for a 2.26 ERA in 51 2/3 innings, and that figure goes down to 1.54 over 46 2/3 innings in the last eight games. Chris Lincoln (2.70 ERA as starter) and Stevie Ledesma (0.96) have made especially successful transitions from the bullpen into weekend slots. 

• Brecht Draws the Start vs. USC
Sophomore lefty Ben Brecht is slated to take the ball for UCSB on Tuesday, making his fourth start of the season and first since Mar. 9. In three previous starts this year, Brecht has pitched to a 5.22 ERA. It's been an up-and-down year for Brecht, who has logged multiple standout outings (5 scoreless innings apiece vs. TAMCC and Sac State) but has an overall ERA just south of 6.00. As a freshman midweek starter in 2017, he logged a team-low 3.99 ERA and won two-thirds of his decisions (4-2). 

• Offense Waking Up
After a slow start to the season, UCSB's offense picked it up in the month of March, slashing .274/.363/.425 with 12 homers compared to a .204/.309/.265 line and one roundtripper in February. 

• Home Cooking
The Gauchos have fared extremely well at Caesar Uyesaka Stadium under Andrew Checketts, crafting a .682 winning percentage (131-61) at home, over 20% higher than their road winning percentage over that same span (.482). Heading into the week, UCSB is hitting 149 points higher as a team and has an ERA over 2.5 runs lower in home games compared to away contests.