No. 14 UCSB Hosts No. 15 UC Irvine in Big West Showdown

Tommy Jew (Photo by Tony Mastres)
Tommy Jew (Photo by Tony Mastres)

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The Schedule
Friday, Apr. 12 at 3:00 p.m. at Caesar Uyesaka Stadium
Saturday, Apr. 13 at 2:00 p.m. at Caesar Uyesaka Stadium
Sunday, Apr. 14 at 1:00 p.m. at Caesar Uyesaka Stadium
UCSB Gauchos (24-5) vs. UC Irvine Anteaters (21-6)
All-time record vs. the Anteaters: 46-48
2018 Series: UCI won 2-of-3

Gauchos on the Air
UCSB Baseball will be available to stream all season long through BigWest.TV. The Voice of the Gauchos, Gerry Fall, will be on play-by-play alongside all-time winningest UCSB Baseball coach Bob Brontsema handling color. An additional audio only broadcast will be available with UCSB Assistant Director of Operations, Kevin Cannon on the call. 

Probable Pitchers
LHP Ben Brecht (6-0, 3.00 ERA) vs. RHP Andre Pallante (5-2, 2.83 ERA)
LHP Jack Dashwood (4-0, 2.27 ERA) vs. RHP Tanner Brubaker (4-1, 2.04 ERA)
LHP Rodney Boone (3-0, 3.00 ERA) vs. RHP Trenton Denholm (6-0, 1.53 ERA)

Last Week in Review
It was another series sweep for the UC Santa Barbara baseball team over the weekend, their fourth of the year, as the Gauchos grinded out a pair of wins over Stephen F. Austin on Friday and Saturday before shutting out the Lumberjacks on Sunday. In Friday's 3-2 win that lasted just one hour and 53 minutes, the Gauchos managed just two hits, but Tommy Jew provided the highlight of the game when he stole home for the game-winning run in the seventh inning. In Saturday's wild 14-12 win in the 11th inning, the first extra inning affair for UCSB this season, redshirt freshman Kyle Johnson hit a walk-off grand slam. Freshman Rodney Boone took a no-hitter into the eighth inning of Sunday's contest, leading the Gauchos to a 7-0 win. UCSB made it six wins in a row with an 8-2 midweek win at Pepperdine, putting together a five-run second inning, highlighted by the eighth home run of the season from Armani Smith

Poll Position
For the first time this season, Santa Barbara is ranked across the board in all the major polls. UCSB is ranked as high as No. 14 in the Collegiate Baseball Poll and cracked the D1baseball.com Poll at No. 23 for the first time in 2019. UCSB moved up three spots to No. 21 in the USA Today Coaches Poll, five spots to rank No. 19 in the Baseball America Poll, six spots to sit No. 16 in the Perfect Game Poll and seven spots to sit at No. 20 in the NCBWA Poll. 

Ultimate Sacrifice
UCSB leads the nation in sacrifice flies with 27 after they had three in Tuesday's 8-2 win over Pepperdine. Senior left fielder Tevin Mitchell leads the team with five, which ranks 13th in the nation among individuals, while Tommy Jew and Jason Willow have four apiece. 

Statistical Rankings
In addition to leading the nation in sacrifice flies, the Gauchos find themselves all over the national statistical rankings. UCSB ranks third in the country in triples per game (0.59) and fourth in overall triples (17) with Armani Smith leading the way with five to rank third in the nation individually. Santa Barbara's .828 win-loss percentage is third best in the country and the Gauchos' pitching staff's mark of 2.66 walks allowed per nine innings is also third in the nation. UCSB is fourth with a 3.62 strikeout-to-walk ratio, 11th with a WHIP of 1.15 and 28th with 9.6 strikeouts per nine innings. The UCSB offense is seventh with a .492 slugging percentage and 24th with a scoring average of 7.5 runs per game. 

Big West Showdown
The matchup between No. 14 UCSB and No. 15 UC Irvine will be the first meeting with a ranked opponent for the Gauchos this season. The Anteaters hold a slight 48-46 advantage in the all-time series, and took two out of three last season in a series where every game was a blowout. UCI All-American pitcher Andre Pallante will start on Friday and boasts a 5-2 record with a 2.83 ERA. UCI's best pitcher this season, however, will be its Sunday starter Trenton Denholm, who is 6-0 with a 1.53 ERA. In the bullpen, the Anteaters are led by Taylor Rashi who has a 0.00 ERA in 13 appearances with 20 strikeouts and seven saves.  Offensively, junior infielder Brandon Lewis leads the way with a .355 average, 11 home runs and 37 RBIs. UCI is 21-6 overall, averages 6.7 runs per game and is coming off a 9-3 loss to No. 1 UCLA after sweeping Long Beach State over the weekend. 

Yang on a Tear
Junior catcher Eric Yang leads UCSB with a .400 batting average (44-for-110) while playing a premium defensive position at catcher, boasting a .996 fielding percentage and has thrown out 50% of base runners attempting to steal (8-of-16). The West Hills, Calif. native has three home runs and a team-high 33 RBIs while slugging .573 with an on-base percentage of .493. His .400 BA is good for 32nd in the nation. 

Home runs = W's
UCSB is 20-1 when hitting at least one home run in a game and 4-4 when failing to hit one. The Gauchos have 34 home runs on the year, one less than they did all of 2018 through just 29 games. Tommy Jew and Armani Smith are tied for the team lead with eight home runs apiece while Thomas Rowan has hit five. Eric Yang, Andrew Martinez and Tevin Mitchell have three apiece and nine different Gauchos have at least one blast on the year. 

Series Openers
The Gauchos are 9-0 in series openers in 2019, scoring an average of 7.2 runs per game. UCSB will look to keep its opener streak alive this Friday at home against No. 15 UC Irvine with junior southpaw Ben Brecht on the mound. Brecht has started eight of the nine series openers and will start his ninth on Friday. 

Home Sweet Home
The Gauchos have fared extremely well at Caesar Uyesaka Stadium under Andrew Checketts, crafting a .692 winning percentage (157-68-3) at home, over 20% higher than their road winning percentage over that same span (.459). UCSB went 21-12-1 at home last season and is off to an 14-1 start at home in 2019.