Big West Baseball Release - Week 9
• UC Irvine moved to the top spot in the conference with a .280 batting average, while Cal State Fullerton continues to dominate on the mound with a league-best 2.44 ERA, which ranks the Titans sixth in the nation. The Titans have also been stellar on defense with the nation’s seventh-best mark of .981, a league-high.
• The University of Hawai’i swept UC Davis to improve to 5-1 in league play and secure the top spot in the standings. Cal State Fullerton sits second after dropping to 4-2 following a 2-1 series loss to Cal Poly. UC Santa Barbara and Cal Poly are knotted in third at 2-1 and is followed by Long Beach State, UC Irvine and UC Riverside, who are log-jammed in fifth with a 3-3 record. UC Davis and CSUN follow with a 1-5 mark.
• 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 opened Big West play with a series win over defending conference champion Cal State Fullerton. This week they travel to Hawai’i to try to keep the momentum going.
Michael Sanderson has reached base in all 30 Cal Poly games this season and owns a .429 on-base percentage to rank ninth in the league. His Teammate, Brett Barbier, owns the top spot in on-base percentage with a .526 clip, while sitting second in batting average (.390) and third in slugging percentage (.543)
CAL STATE FULLERTON
The Titans suffered its first Big West series loss last weekend when it fell to Cal Poly, 2-1. The last time CSF won a series at Baggett Stadium was in 2013. They look to rebound this week when they host UC Davis in a three-game series with Friday’s contest airing on ESPN3.
Wanting To Be First:
Cal State Fullerton is 13-3 when scoring first this season.
Swing And A Miss:
The Titans pitching staff ranks second in the nation in hits allowed per nine innings.
Big West Play:
CSUN collected its first Big West victory of the season with a 4-2 win in its final game against No. 20 Long Beach State. The Matadors face their second-straight ranked opponent this week when they visit No. 13 UC Santa Barbara.
And You’re Out:
A month after downing then-ranked No. 14 UCLA, the Matadors took care of business again last week with a 4-1 victory over the Bruins. With the win, CSUN secured its first season series sweep of the Bruins since 1998 and its first season series victory since the 2002 campaign.
LONG BEACH STATE
Going, Going Gone:
In LBSU’s 6-3 victory over CSUN, Sanchez blasted two home runs to be the first Dirtbag to hit two homers in a game since Eric Hutting did so back on May 10, 2015, against Indiana.
Freshman Chris Rivera has earned 11 saves this season to lead the country. The next closest in the Big West is CSUN’s Connor O’Neil with six.
Climbing The Ranks:
Ty Provencher made his 80th career appearance for Long Beach, tying him with current Cleveland Indians reliever Bryan Shaw for fifth in program history.
UC Davis senior Cameron Olson became the first Aggie to hit for the cycle in nearly 15 years, finishing 4-for-4 with a walk and four RBI to help lift his team to a 15-3 victory over visiting San Francisco. Olson tripled and scored in the first, doubled home a run in the second, singled home a run in the sixth and saved his best for last, a towering home run off the right field pole in the seventh to drive home two and complete the cycle. He became the first Aggie to hit for the cycle in the program’s Division I Era and the first since Ryan Coultas did so against Concordia on March 24, 2002.
UC Irvine, who picked up its first conference series victory of 2016 last week, begins an eight-game road trip this week with a midweek contest at CSU Bakersfield and a Big West series at No. 20 Long Beach State. This weekend marks the first Top 25 opponent the Anteaters have faced this season.
Explosion At The Plate:
Keston Hiura paces the Big West in RBI with 29 and has registered a league-high seven home runs.
A Look Back:
UC Riverside suffered a series loss to UC Irvine (1-2), dropping its Big West record to 3-3 to sit tied for fifth. In the midst of an eight-game road trip, this week the Highlanders take a break from league play to battle Utah.
Powering Through The Conference:
In conference-only contests, junior Mark Contreras paces the Big West with eight runs scored, while tying for second in hits with 10. Teammate junior Vince Fernandez holds the top spot in RBI, notching 11 in conference contests.
UC SANTA BARBARA
Battling The Best:
UC Santa Barbara completed its second consecutive series against a ranked opponent last week with a 1-1-1 mark at No. 24 College of Charleston, which also ended an eight-game road trip. This bumps the Gauchos’ Top 25 overall record to 6-4-1. UCSB returns to Big West action this week when it hosts CSUN.
Kyle Nelson, a relief pitcher, has registered a conference-low 1.07 ERA in 33.2 innings pitched to rank 8th in the nation. He is also limiting his opposition to a conference-best .148 batting average.
Riding The Wave:
Hawai’i has opened Big West play with an impressive 5-1 mark and currently owns the top spot in the league. UH has now won 10 of its last 14 contests. This week the Rainbow Warriors return home to host Cal Poly, who just picked up a 2-1 series win over preseason favorite Cal State Fullerton.
Against The Big West:
In conference-only contests, Hawai’i is hitting a league-best .347 batting average, while also leading in multiple offensive categories - runs scored (38), hits (74) and RBI (35).