No. 17 UCSB Begins Big West Play at Cal State Fullerton this Weekend

Photo by Tony Mastres)
Photo by Tony Mastres)

The Schedule
Friday, Mar. 29 at 7:00 p.m. at Goodwin Field
Saturday, Mar. 30 at 6:00 p.m. at Goodwin Field
Sunday, Mar. 31 at 1:00 p.m. at Goodwin Field
UCSB Gauchos (17-4) vs. Cal State Fullerton Titans (11-11)
All-time record vs. the Titans: 44-109
2018 Series: UCSB won 2-of-3

Gauchos on the Air
UCSB Baseball will be available to stream all season long through BigWest.TV. In addition, Assistant Director of Baseball Operations Kevin Cannon will provide an audio only broadcast available on UCSBGauchos.com.

Probable Pitchers
LHP Ben Brecht (4-0, 3.06 ERA) vs. RHP Tanner Bibee (3-3, 2.43 ERA)
LHP Jack Dashwood (4-0, 2.61 ERA) vs. RHP Kyle Luckham (3-2, 4.26 ERA)
LHP Rodney Boone (2-0, 2.89 ERA) vs. RHP Michael Knorr (2-1, 5.16 ERA)

Last Week in Review
The No. 17 UC Santa Barbara baseball team swept past visiting Missouri State over the weekend, relying on dominant pitching from its starters and strong offensive performances to keep the wins coming. The Gauchos defeated the Bears 7-3 on Friday, 5-3 on Saturday and 11-1 in seven innings on Sunday while getting 10 strikeouts in each game from starter's Ben Brecht, Jack Dashwood and Rodney Boone. In the series opener, UCSB set a season-high with 16 strikeouts from the mound and throughout the entire series allowed just 15 total hits. In Tuesday's midweek game at Saint Mary's, the Gauchos jumped out to a 6-0 lead behind a trio of home runs, but the Gaels pulled off the comeback to snag the 7-6 win.

Poll Position
After earning a ranking for the first time since 2017 earlier in the season, the Gauchos have continued to climb the ranks. UCSB jumped five spots to the No. 17 position in the Collegiate Baseball Poll and moved up one position in the NBCWA Poll to No. 27. The Gauchos also received 60 votes in the USA Today Coaches Poll to put them in the No. 29 slot.

Golden Gloves
Despite an uncharacteristic three errors in a loss to Saint Mary's on Tuesday, UC Santa Barbara still leads the nation in fielding percentage. The Gauchos have just 11 errors (four less than the second-place team) in 719 chances for a .985 percentage. UCSB is all over the national statistical rankings, ranking third in strikeout-to-walk ratio (3.89), fifth in triples (13) and triples per game (0.62), fifth in walks allowed per nine innings (2.74), sixth in strikeouts per nine innings (10.7), and eighth in sacrifice flies (17).

Clash with the Titans
UCSB opens up Big West Conference play this weekend at Cal State Fullerton. The Titans are 11-11 to start the year, and are coming off an 11-4 loss to Pepperdine after sweeping Long Beach State last weekend. Last season, the Gauchos took two-out-of-three at home from the Titans for its first series win against CSF since 2014. Cal State Fullerton is led by a pair of outfielders Isaiah Garcia (.400/.477/.564, 1 HR, 14 RBI) and Mitchell Berryhill (.395/.453/.461, 13 RBI, 5 SB) and will turn to starter Tanner Bibee (3-3, 2.43 ERA) on Friday.

Midweek Matchup with USC
After this weekend's series, the Gauchos will return home for its second meeting of the season with the Trojans of USC on Tuesday, Apr. 2 at 3:00 p.m.. Earlier in the year, UCSB edged out USC 2-1 behind a strong pitching performance from Jack Dashwood, who took a no-hitter into the seventh inning and struck out 10 to earn Big West Player of the Week honors. Tommy Jew hit a leadoff home run in the game and came a double shy of the cycle. USC is 9-14 this year, coming off an 8-5 win in extra innings against Long Beach State, and host No. 1 UCLA this weekend.   

Hot Start for Yang
Junior catcher Eric Yang is playing some of the best baseball of his career, and leads the Gauchos with a .408 batting average (31-for-76), which ranks 33rd in the nation.

Home Run Power
Before Tuesday, the Gauchos were 13-0 in games in which they hit at least one home run. With three home runs on Tuesday in a 7-6 loss, the streak was snapped. In that game against Saint Mary's, however, Andrew Martinez and Tevin Mitchell hit back-to-back home runs, the third time UCSB has done so this season. Martinez and Tommy Jew hit back-to-back blasts against Pepperdine and Armani Smith and Thomas Rowan went back-to-back against Missouri State. In all, UCSB has hit 25 round trippers to rank 23rd in the nation (16th in home runs per game) and nine different Gauchos have hit one through 21 games. Smith and Jew lead the team with six apiece.

Series Openers
The Gauchos are 7-0 in series openers in 2019, scoring an average of 7.9 runs per game. UCSB will look to keep its opener streak alive this Friday at Cal State Fullerton with junior southpaw Ben Brecht on the mound. Brecht has started six of the seven series openers and will start his seventh on Friday. 

On the Road Again
UCSB is 7-3 on the road this season, and had won five straight before Tuesday's game at Saint Mary's. In contrast, the Gauchos are 10-1 at home where they boast a .688 winning percentage (152-68-3)  all-time under head coach Andrew Checketts.