Final Tune-Up Before Conference Play
Big West Baseball Release - Week 6
• CSUN is hitting .299 to pace the Big West Conference, while Cal State Fullerton continues to dominate on the mound with a league-best 2.17 ERA, which ranks the Titans fourth in the nation. The Titans have also been stellar on defense with the nation’s second-best mark of .986. Long Beach State isn’t far behind in 10th place with a fielding percentage of .981.
• UC Santa Barbara and Long Beach State moved up in the polls this week with the Gauchos sporting a 17th ranking and the Dirtbags sitting in 20th. Cal State Fullerton, who dropped a tightly-contested series to Maryland, fell into the receiving votes category.
• This week Cal State Fullerton gives us a glimpse into the upcoming conference season for the Big West as it entertains Long Beach State in a nonconference-scoring, three-game series. The two teams will return to the diamond the final week of the regular season, this time at Blair Field, for what could possibly a battle for the title as both teams have been moving in and out of the top 25 all season.
• The Cal State Fullerton Titans have been tabbed the team to beat in 2016 as they begin their quest to defend the Big West Conference title, according to the nine conference coaches that voted on the 2016 Big West baseball preseason poll. The Titans earned four first-place votes en route to a total of 71 points while UC Irvine, who received one first-place vote, holds the second spot with 65 points. Long Beach State secured the third slot after earning three first-place votes for a total of 62 points and the Gauchos of UC Santa Barbara picked up the final first-place vote and tallied 60 points to finish fourth.
With 44 total points, CSUN clinched the fifth spot and Cal Poly, who captured its first-ever title in 2014, landed sixth with 43 points. Hawai’i ranked seventh with 27 points and was followed by UC Riverside (17) and UC Davis (16).
• Last fall Collegiate Baseball announced its annual evaluation of the NCAA Division I recruiting classes and Cal State Fullerton and UC Santa Barbara landed on the elite list. The Titans secured the 24th spot while the Gauchos grabbed the 36th slot. Other Big West teams recognized as having notable recruiting classes were UC Riverside, UC Irvine, Cal Poly and Long Beach State. The CBN’s ranking uses only players who joined their respective programs for the 2015-16 school year and excludes all signees who decided to sign a professional contract.
• A selection of Big West baseball games will be carried on ESPN3 this season with all games originating from Southern California member institutions Cal State Fullerton, Long Beach State, UC Irvine and UC Riverside. Every Big West team will make an appearance on the televised baseball schedule.
Through the Big West’s new mobile production facility, each game will be produced by the Conference utilizing full ESPN production standards, including graphics, replay and on-air crew. It is the first fully operational mobile production unit of its kind that expands upon what ESPN Emerging Technology has already done at the institutional level.
Every game on ESPN’s platforms is available through WatchESPN, accessible online at WatchESPN.com, on smartphones and tablets via the WatchESPN app, through ESPN on Xbox LIVE to Gold members, on Apple TV and Roku to fans who receive their video subscription from an affiliated provider.
Cal Poly Continues Road Trip: The Mustangs wrap up a season-long, 10-game road trip this week with a three-game series at Wichita State. They enter the midwest showdown having picked up their first road series of the season last week, downing Sacramento State, 2-1.
Scoring Superstars: John Schuknecht, who’s notched six doubles this season, has driven in 21 runs to pace the Big West Conference. He is also tied for seventh in runs scored with 18, while his teammate, Alex McKenna, is knotted in second after scoring 21 runs.
CAL STATE FULLERTON
Pitching Power: The Titan pitching staff is allowing just 5.66 hits per nine innings to rank second in the nation. Individually, Blake Quinn paced the Titans and sits 11th nationally with an average of allowing just 3.86 hits per nine innings.
CSF Snaps Win Streak: Cal State Fullerton suffered its first weekend series loss since opening weekend when the Titans went 1-2 at Stanford. The Titans only managed to picked up one win against Maryland on Friday before falling to the Terrapins 8-4 and 1-0.
Hot, Hot, Hot: CSUN is off to its best start since 1996 and enters the week on a 13-game winning streak. The Matadors embark on an eight-game road trip beginning with a four-game, weekend series at Portland.
Topping The Nation: Fred Smith has been explosive at the plate this season as he is currently tied for first in the country with 39 hits. He is hitting .415 on the season to rank second in the Big West. While Smith is shinning on offense, Kenny Rosenberg has been hot on the mound, posting the nation’s second-highest strikeout total of 48.
LONG BEACH STATE
Riding The Momentum: Long Beach State has won nine of the last 11 contests and currently owns a 14-6 record.
The Stopper: Chris Rivera is already making a name for himself in his first season donning the black and gold as he is one of two players to earn eight saves this season to lead the country. The next closest in the Big West is CSUN’s Connor O’Neil with five.
Going The Distance: The Dirtbags are 1-5 when their starter fails to pitch at least 6.0 innings.
Back In Action: After a week off for finals, UC Davis is back in action this week hosting Stanford (3/21) and Air Force in a three-game series.
You’re Out: Robert Garcia is one of four players in the country that has maintained a 0.00 earned run average through the first month of the season. The freshman has tossed 21.0 scoreless innings in seven appearances, striking out 29. He is also limiting his opposition to a .125 batting average to lead the Big West Conference.
Light Week: UC Irvine, riding a five-game win streak, will be enjoying a little spring break this week as it is slated to only host a single contest against Loyola Marymount (3/22).
Hiura Explodes At The Plate: Keston Hiura’s .467 batting average places him fifth in the country.
Home Is Where The Win Is: The Anteaters are 10-2 this season when playing at Cicerone Field at Anteater Ballpark. Last week they earned four consecutive victories in front of their hometown fans to boost their record to 14-6.
Taking A Break: In the midst of spring break, UC Riverside is schedule to play just one contest at San Diego State on Tuesday before taking the remainder of the week off. The Highlanders will then resume play on Tuesday, March 29 with a two-d0ay series at Arizona.
Highlander Leaders: Junior Vince Fernandez has knocked 30 hits to tie for third in the league, while also tying for seventh with a .370 batting average. On the mound, Sodders paces UCR with the conference’s third-best strikeout total of 34.
UC SANTA BARBARA
East Coast Domination: The Gauchos have swept their last two east coast opponents - Hartford and Connecticut - to improve to 15-3 on the season. This week UCSB, riding a six-game win streak, battles CSU Bakersfield (3/22) and USC.
Handing Out Freebies: Andrew Calica seems to be a threat to the opposing pitchers seeing how he has been walked 20 times to rank 18th in the country. He has also been hit a nation-leading 11 times this season.
Back On Track: Hawai’i picked up its second series win of the season last week, downing Chicago State, 3-1, to improve to 9-12 on the season. The Rainbow Warriors look to continue their success this week as they host Santa Clara in a four-game series.
Leading The Way: Jacob Sheldon-Collins paces Hawai’i, and ranks ninth in the conference, with a .370 batting average. His 27 hits places him sixth in the Big West. On the mound, Brendan Hornung ranks sixth in the league with 31 strikeouts.