Big West Weekly Release - Week 7
• Cal Poly is currently leading the Big West on offense with a .282 batting average, while Cal State Fullerton continues to dominate on the mound with a league-best 2.46 ERA, which ranks the Titans eighth in the nation. The Titans have also been stellar on defense with the nation’s seventh-best mark of .982, but Long Beach State has them beat with a .983 mark that places the Dirtbags fourth in the country.
• Following the first week of Big West play, preseason favorite Cal State Fullerton sits atop the leaderboard with a perfect 3-0 mark after downing CSUN, who entered the week with the most nonconference wins. No. 12 UC Santa Barbara is tied for second with Hawai’i and UC Riverside with a 2-1 mark. The Gauchos won the battle of the ranked teams as they took 2-of-3 from then-ranked No. 17 Long Beach State. UC Irvine, Long Beach State and UC Davis are knotted in fifth with a 1-2 mark and CSUN sits eighth. Cal Poly will begin conference play this week hosting league-leading CSF after dropping a nonconference series to San Jose State last week.
• 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 opens Big West play this weekend hosting conference leader and preseason favorite Cal State Fullerton. The Mustangs are coming off a series loss (1-2) to San Jose State.
The Mustangs currently pace the league with a .282 batting average and are lead by Brett Barbier’s .402 mark, which is second-best in the Big West. Alex McKenna has scored 27 runs scored to pace the conference, while teammate John Schuknecht is knotted in first with nine doubles.
CAL STATE FULLERTON
The preseason favorite opened conference play sweeping CSUN, who entered the week with a conference-best 20 wins. Prior to their weekend success, CSF dominated UCLA, 14-7, in a midweek showdown. This week the Titans host San Diego (4/5) before hitting the road to battle Cal Poly.
Controlling The Mound:
Blake Quinn, who is limiting his opposition to a league-low .127, ranks fourth in the nation in hits allowed per nine innings (3.76). He currently owns a 1.88 ERA with 38.1 innings pitched while striking out 46 batters.
Big West Play:
CSUN dropped its conference-opening series to Cal State Fullerton, with the Titans taking all three contests. This week the Matadors look to rebound as they host Long Beach State, who fell out of the rankings after dropping a series (2-1) to UC Santa Barbara.
And You’re Out:
CSUN has struck out 265 batters this season to lead the Big West. Leading the charge is sophomore Kenny Rosenberg, who ranks second in the nation with 64 strikeouts.
LONG BEACH STATE
LBSU Suffers Loss:
LBSU suffered its first series loss of the year last week as it fell to UCSB, 2-1, in a tightly-contested series.
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 11 saves this season to lead the country. The next closest in the Big West is CSUN’s Connor O’Neil with five.
Zack Domingues has now reached base safely in 24 consecutive games.
UC Davis opened Big West play with a 1-2 mark against UC Riverside. This week the Aggies entertain Hawai’i, who took the series against UC Irvine, 2-1, last week.
Bats On Fire:
The Aggies posted their best hitting series of the season last weekend at UC Riverside, batting .330 as a team in the three-game set with the Highlanders, while out-hitting their hosts, 36-30. Overall, Mark Cardinalli is hitting .375 on the season to rank third in the Big West Conference.
Big West Action:
UC Irvine kicked off Big West play in Hawai’i and struggled to pick up a victory in the first two games. The Anteaters were able to escape being swept after they put up a season-high 14 runs in the final contest to down the Rainbow Warriors, 14-4. UCI (16-9) hosts UC Riverside this weekend with Friday’s contest airing on ESPN3 at 6:30 p.m.
Explosion At The Plate:
Keston Hiura’s .417 batting average places him 24th in the country, while he’s slugging a 19th-best .729, which paces the Big West.
Highlanders On ESPN3:
UCR, who opened league play with a 2-1 record, visits UC Irvine this week where the first game of the series is set to air on ESPN3 at 6:30 p.m. This is the first of three UC Riverside games sscheduled for broadcast this season.
In the final game against UCD, the Highlanders scored 12 runs in the third inning, marking the third most runs scored by the Highlanders in a single frame since they joined the Big West prior to the 2002 season. The program’s Big West-era record is 14 set back on February 23, 2002, in the eighth inning of a 21-4 win over Oregon State.
UC SANTA BARBARA
Off To A Great Start:
The No. 12 Gauchos are currently tied for second in the Big West after taking 2-of-3 from then-ranked No. 17 LBSU. This week they take a break from conference play to visit College of Charleston.
Kyle Nelson has registered a conference-low .65 ERA in 27.2 innings pitched to rank 7th in the nation. He is also limiting his opposition to a .146 batting average, third best in the Big West.
And He Scored:
Andrew Calica, with a .488 on-base percentage, ranks second in the conference with 26 runs scored.
Riding The Wave:
Hawai’i has won seven of the last 10 contests, which includes a BWC series win over UC Irvine. The first win of the series was UH’s first victory over UC Irvine in 10 tries and the first since 2009. The Rainbow Warriors carry that momentum to UC Davis for their first road trip since February.
Control On The Mound:
Tossing a conference-high 54.1 innings pitched, Brendan Hornung owns the league’s fifth-best ERA of 2.15. He is also tied for third in strikeouts with 46.