Baseball Wraps Up Six-Weekend Homestand, Brings in UTRGV for Bye Week Series

Photo by Eric Isaacs
Photo by Eric Isaacs

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• The Schedule
Friday, Apr. 6 at 3:00 p.m. PT vs. UTRGV (16-13)
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: 10-7-1 / 3-6
UCSB Streak / Last 10:  Lost 1 / 6-4
UTRGV Streak / Last 10:  Lost 3 / 5-5

• 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. UCSB surrendered 15 hits to USC in a 9-3 midweek loss on Tuesday, using a season-high seven pitchers in the game. Clay Fisher clubbed his first home run of 2018 in the defeat. 

• Projected Starting Pitchers
Friday: LHP Jack Dashwood (1-4, 4.26 ERA) vs. RHP Carter Johnson (1-3, 3.55 ERA)
Saturday: RHP Chris Lincoln (0-1, 2.15 ERA) vs. LHP Jorge Flores (3-2, 3.05 ERA)
Sunday: RHP Stevie Ledesma (2-1, 2.55 ERA) vs. RHP Chase Adams (4-1, 4.14 ERA)

• Strikeouts Are Good, Walks Are Bad
The UCSB pitching staff enters the weekend with a 2.70 strikeout-to-walk ratio, a figure which ranks first in the Big West and 26th nationally. Shea Barry (12.0), Luke Andrews (5.5), 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 2.90 team walks per nine ratio ranks 16th in the country and trails only Hawaii (2.75) in the Big West. 

• Reversing the Trends
Over the last month, UCSB has begun to turn around some of the trends that have been haunting the team. 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 tilts, winning three games in March when scoring four runs or fewer, a feat they accomplished just once from the beginning of 2017 through the end of February 2018. 

• 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 a starter) and Stevie Ledesma (0.96) have made especially successful transitions from the bullpen into weekend slots. 

• 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 (131-62) at home, over 20% higher than their road winning percentage over that same span (.482). Heading into the weekend, 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 (3.34 home, 5.85 away). 

• Messing With Texas
Though UCSB has never before tangled with UTRGV, the Gauchos have accrued an 8-15 all-time record as a program against teams from Texas. 

• Big West Bye
This will be UCSB's fifth season with a conference bye week series, coinciding with Pacific's departure from the league after the 2013 campaign. The Gauchos have an overall record of 8-4-1 in bye week games, winning two series, splitting another, and losing one. Starting from 2017 and heading back, UCSB has faced off against SDSU (lost two of three), College of Charleston (1-1-1), Fresno St. (four-game sweep), and San Francisco (won two of three). 

• Last Ditch
UCSB will be looking to cash in on more of its two-out opportunities from here on out, as the Gauchos have struggled to stay alive when down to their last out. UCSB is hitting just .221 with two outs (opponents are hitting .258) and has only 33 two-out RBIs (opponents: 48). 

• Fewer Errors Mean More Wins
For a team that rolls up as many ground balls as UCSB does, defense is crucial to the team's success. In games where the Gauchos have played error-free baseball, the team is 5-2. Conversely, UCSB is 6-11 when making one or more error. 

• UCSB Quick Fact
Tuesday's game against USC marked the first time this season that UCSB lost a game when scoring in the first inning. 

• By The Numbers: +24
UCSB's run differential in innings six through nine this season, compared to a -15 mark in innings one through five.