No. 19 Gauchos to Play Final Non-Conference Series this Weekend

Jason Willow (Photo by Tony Mastres)
Jason Willow (Photo by Tony Mastres)

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The Schedule
Friday, Apr. 5 at 3:00 p.m. at Caesar Uyesaka Stadium
Saturday, Apr. 6 at 2:00 p.m. at Caesar Uyesaka Stadium
Sunday, Apr. 7 at 1:00 p.m. at Caesar Uyesaka Stadium
UCSB Gauchos (17-4) vs. Stephen F. Austin Lumberjacks (14-16)
All-time record vs. the Lumberjacks: First Meeting
Last Meeting: N/A

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. 

Last Week in Review
The No. 17 UC Santa Barbara baseball team opened Big West Conference play with a series win at reigning conference champions Cal State Fullerton. The Gauchos held off the Titans' furios comeback to take the opener 7-6 before falling 9-7 on Saturday. In Sunday's rubber match, Michael McGreevy gave a strong performance in relief and Armani Smith homered to help UCSB to an 8-7 series-clinching victory. In Tuesday afternoon's midweek game against USC, the Gauchos got a strong start from Jorge Arellano Jr. and defeated the Trojans 10-4. 

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 made its first appearance in the USA Today Coaches Poll (No. 24), Perfect Game (No. 22) and Baseball America (No. 24). The Gauchos held steady at No. 27 in the NBCWA Poll and dropped two spots to No. 19 in the Collegiate Baseball Poll. 

Statistical Rankings
Behind a hot start to the season, UC Santa Barbara has put itself among the national leaders in a handful of statistical categories. The Gauchos rank third in the country in sacrifice flies (22) and triples per game (0.60), fourth in strikeout-to-walk ratio (3.66), sixth in triples (15), seventh in walks allowed per nine innings (2.79), eighth in fielding percentage (.980), ninth in win-loss percentage (.800) and slugging percentage (0.493), 13th in strikeouts per nine innings (10.2) and 17th in WHIP (1.19)

Stephen F. Austin Comes to Town
This is the first meeting all-time between UCSB and Stephen F. Austin. The Lumberjacks come to Santa Barbara with a 14-16 overall record, having just lost 6-4 to Arkansas Pine-Bluff on Wednesday night. SFA is hitting .232 as a team and is led by freshman outfielder Brandon Uhse, who is hitting .310 with 11 RBIs. Senior Manny Vasquez leads the team with three home runs and junior infielder Sean Moore has 18 RBIs along with a .287 average. On the mound, SFA is led by Friday's starter Alex Palmer (3-2, 3.20 ERA) while relievers Jesus Gamez (0.00 ERA, 11.0 IP, 4 SV) and Jeremy Rodriguez (2.38 ERA, 22.2 IP, 4 SV) lead a strong bullpen. 

Yang Named Big West Field Player of the Week
Junior catcher Eric Yang helped UCSB to a series victory over reigning conference champions Cal State Fullerton to capture his first career Big West Field Player of the Week award. Yang hit .500 (7-for-14) in the three-game series against the Titans, adding a home run to go along with six RBIs and four runs scored, playing a role in 10 of the Gauchos' 22 runs scored. The West Hills, Calif. native went 3-for-5 with a homer, three runs scored and two RBIs in a 7-6 victory in the series opener on Friday and reached base in all five plate appearances in Saturday's 9-7 loss after going 4-for-4 with a walk, four RBIs and a stolen base. Yang leads the Gauchos with a .419 batting average (39-for-93), which ranks 15th in the nation. Yang also leads the team with 14 multi-hit games and reached base in 18 straight to start the year. 

Back-to-Back Jacks
Eric Yang and Tommy Jew hit back-to-back home runs in Friday's win at Cal State Fullerton, the fourth time UCSB has hit back-to-back home runs this season. Last Tuesday, Andrew Martinez and Tevin Mitchell went back-to-back and before that, Armani Smith and Thomas Rowan accomplished the feat against Missouri State. Jew along with Martinez also went back-to-back in a win at Pepperdine. UCSB is 16-1 when hitting at least one home run in a game, and rank 33rd in the nation with 29 round trippers. Nine different Gauchos have hit at least one with Jew leading the team with eight and Smith has seven. 

Series Openers
The Gauchos are 8-0 in series openers in 2019, scoring an average of 7.8 runs per game. UCSB will look to keep its opener streak alive this Friday at home against Stephen F. Austin with junior southpaw Ben Brecht on the mound. Brecht has started seven of the eight series openers and will start his eighth on Friday. 

Best Start Since...
UCSB is off to a 20-5 start, matching the best start for the Gauchos since 2016 when Santa Barbara advanced to the College World Series. Earlier this season, UCSB matched a program record 12-game win streak that was set back in 1984. 

Home Sweet Home
The Gauchos have fared extremely well at Caesar Uyesaka Stadium under Andrew Checketts, crafting a .689 winning percentage (153-68-3) 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 11-1 start at home in 2019.