Gauchos Continue Road Trip at USC Tuesday

Clay Fisher (photo by Eric Isaacs)
Clay Fisher (photo by Eric Isaacs)

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• The Schedule
Tuesday, Apr. 17, 2018 at 6:00 p.m.
UCSB at USC at Dedeaux Field
All-time record vs. the Trojans: 43-59-1
The last meeting: USC 9, UCSB 3 (Apr. 3, 2018)

• The Week Ahead
UCSB takes a break from Big West action to wrap up its home-and-home series with USC on Tuesday. Earlier this season, the Gauchos fell to the Trojans 9-3 at Campus Diamond after USC pounded out 15 hits and scored in six of the final eight innings after the Gauchos took an early 2-0 lead after one. Tuesday's projected starter, sophomore southpaw Ben Brecht, pitched in the previous meeting against the Trojans and gave up two earned and five hits in 2.1 innings. Tommy Jew, Clay Fisher and Jason Willow all collected two hits apiece in the game.

• The Week in Review
Over the weekend, the Gauchos dropped two-out-of-three at UC Irvine in an unconventional series that essentially featured three blowouts. In the series opener on Friday night, UCSB had tough luck against one of the top pitchers in the nation, Andre Pallante, who went 7.0 innings while holding the Gauchos to just three hits and one run while striking out 10 in a 10-2 victory for UCI. UCSB bounced back in a big way on Saturday with 16 hits and nine runs in a 9-4 victory to even the series. The rubber match on Sunday, however, proved to be similar to Friday for UCSB as the Gauchos managed just three hits and one run in an 11-1 loss.

• Fisher Back in the Field
After starting the first 30 games of the season as the designated hitter, junior Clay Fisher made his return to the field with starts at second base on Saturday and Sunday at UC Irvine. Fisher, a 2017 Preseason All-American, was one of the best defensive shortstops in the nation before undergoing season-ending Tommy John surgery 15 games into last year. In Saturday's debut, Fisher made three assists in all three of his chances.

• On the Road Again...Actually, On the Road Finally
The Gauchos are currently in the midst of a season-long, seven-game road trip that will conclude with a weekend series at UC Davis afer a midweek match against USC. Prior to the weekend series against UC Irvine, UCSB had played 22 of its 30 games at Caesar Uyesaka Stadium and two others at a neutral site. They have now played just two three-game series' away from home in 2018. Ironically, one of the first six true road games was a Mar. 27 contest at Pepperdine which was suspended in the 11th inning. That game will actually be completed on May 8 in Santa Barbara prior to the regularly scheduled 3 pm game.

• A Sixth Sense
UCSB has outscored its opponents in the first, second, fourth, sixth and seventh innings this season. The opposition holds the edge in the third, fifth, eighth and ninth. The sixth inning has been by far the most dominant inning for the Gauchos as they hold a sizable 37-10 advantage. The second largest is a 22-9 edge in the fourth. The opponents largest imbalance is in the fifth, 32-13.

• 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.

• 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. Through eight games so far in April, the Gauchos have stayed hot with a .275/.370/.416 slash line with six homeruns.