Big West Baseball Release - Week 15
• As we head into the final week of the regular season, two teams remain in contention for the 2016 Big West Conference baseball title - Cal State Fullerton and Long Beach State. The Dirtbags, who sit one game back from the Titans, host Cal State Fullerton at Blair Field Thursday-Saturday. The highly-anticipated showdown pits two of the top pitching staffs in the country, as CSF ranks No. 1 and LBSU sits 22nd. Both teams also sport top-25 fielding percentages as well. Worth noting: The two teams met back in March in a tightly-contested, nonconference series in which LBSU won, 2-1.
While CSF and LBSU battle for the conference crown, UC Santa Barbara will be looking for a series win over UC Riverside to guarantee sole possession of third place. The Gauchos currently sit third with a 12-9 mark, while Hawai’i, who finished conference play last week with a 12-12 record, sits fourth. There is a three-way tie for fifth between CSUN, Cal Poly and UC Riverside, who all own a 10-11 mark. UC Irvine is eighth at 9-12 and UC Davis rounds out the field with a 4-17 record.
• Regional hosts and sites for the 2016 NCAA Division I Baseball Championship will be announced by the NCAA Division I Baseball Committee at approximately 5:30 p.m. on Sunday, May 29 on the NCAA baseball social media channels, as well as the BottomLine of the ESPN Networks at 6:00 p.m. The 2016 NCAA Division I Baseball Championship Selection Show, with regional pairings and site assignments, will be revealed in a live, one-hour telecast on ESPNU at 9:00 a.m. (PDT), Monday, May 30.
• UC Irvine continues to produce the top offense in the Big West as it sports a .282 batting average. Cal State Fullerton dominates on the mound with a nation-best 2.28 ERA. Long Beach State has recently moved to the top spot in the Big West on defense with a .978 mark.
• The national baseball publications have started releasing their midseason watch lists and four Big West student-athletes have earned various distinctions. The National College Baseball Hall of Fame released its updated 2016 National Pitcher of the Year Award watch list and UC Santa Barbara’s Kyle Nelson made the cut. McCaughan can also be found on the USA Baseball Golden Spikes midseason watch list along with UC Irvine’s Keston Hiura. Sponsored by Major League Baseball and presented in partnership with the Rod Dedeaux Foundation, the 39th Golden Spikes Award is given to the top amateur baseball player. Nelson, along with CSUN’s Conner O’Neil and Long Beach State’s Chris Rivera, earned spots on the NCBWA Stopper of the Year Midseason watch list.
• 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. 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 smart phones and tablets via the WatchESPN app, through ESPN on Xbox LIVE to Gold members, on Apple TV and Roku to fans who receive video subscription from an affiliated provider.
CP Suffers Series Loss But Ends Drought:
Cal Poly dropped its final road series of the year at UC Riverside, 2-1, and now sit 10-11 in league play. The lone victory marked Cal Poly’s first conference road win in nine attempts.
The Big 3-0:
With an overall mark of 30-24, the Mustangs notched their fourth 30-win season in five years and 11th since 2000.
Brett Barbier is hitting .359 to rank fifth in the league, while on the mound Jarred Zill sports the ninth-best ERA at 2.79
CAL STATE FULLERTON
CSF Slips In Final Home Series:
League-leading Cal State Fullerton suffered its first home series of the 2016 season as it fell to Hawai’i, 2-1, to give the ‘Bows their first series victory over the Titans.
We’re Number One:
The Titans’ pitching staff continues to showcase the nation’s best ERA with a 2.28 mark. They are led by Colton Eastman, who sits second in the Big West with a 2.21 ERA and closely followed by John Gavin in third at 2.31. Connor Seabold, who is tied for fourth with a 2.35 ERA, ranks fifth nationally with an average of .82 walks allowed per nine innings.
After two consecutive series sweeps, CSUN struggled last week, posting a 1-4 record. The Matadors fell to Pepperdine, 3-1, in their final home contest of 2016 and then dropped a four-game road series to Purdue (1-3).
King Of The Hill:
Junior Conner O’Neil has been impressive on the mound all season as he sports the league’s seventh-best ERA of 2.68, while ranking fourth in opposing batting average (.196). Teammate Kenny Rosenberg is holding the opposition to a .194 batting average while striking out 113 batters to rank eighth in the nation.
LONG BEACH STATE
LBSU Eye’s Big West Title:
LBSU swept UC Davis last week and Cal State Fullerton stumbled against Hawai’i, which gives the Dirtbags an opportunity to grab at least a share of their first conference title since 2008. They currently sit one game back from the league-leading Titans, who they host this week at Blair Field.
On A Roll:
No. 22 Long Beach State enters the final week of the regular season riding a season-long, nine-game win streak. Even more impressive, the Dirtbags have only lost twice since April 24 for a record of 14-2 over that span.
UC Davis Ends Season On The Road:
Riding a seven-game skid, the UC Davis Aggies head to San Luis Obispo to battle Cal Poly for their final series of the year. The Aggies enter the matchup with an overall mark of 16-34 and a 4-17 conference record.
Ace On The Mound:
Robert Garcia continues to rank among the top 10 in the Big West Conference in ERA, currently owning the eighth slot with a 2.71 mark.
UCI Closes Out Season At Home:
After dropping two-of-three to No. 20 UC Santa Barbara last week, UC Irvine looks to close out the 2016 season on a high note as its entertains CSUN in a Thursday-Saturday series. The Matadors enter the series having won just one game over the last five contests.
Powering To The Top:
UC Irvine continues to pace the league with a .282 batting average while two players rank in the top 10. Sophomore Keston Hiura holds the top spot with a .370 mark and senior Grant Palmer sits ninth at .322.
UC Riverside Finds Win Column:
The Highlanders were successful last week, posting a 3-1 record which included their first series win of May as they downed Cal Poly, 2-1. Prior to the series victory, UC Riverside downed San Diego State, 8-3.
Going, Going, Gone:
In Friday’s series opener against the Mustangs, UC Riverside notched three home runs, with Aaron Cisneros registering two of them. The Highlanders sit atop the Big West with 29 home runs and Cisneros, along with teammate Vince Fernandez, are tied for third with eight apiece.
UC SANTA BARBARA
The Small Screen:
In Friday’s 10-3 win over UC Irvine, Devon Gradford became just the ninth Gaucho ever to hit two triples in one game. The last Gaucho to do so was Gunnar Terhune on Mar. 28, 2010.
How Grand It Is:
The Gauchos have Austin Bush to thank for the 9-5 victory over the ’Eaters Sunday evening as he blasted a game-tying grand slam in the eighth inning. An inning later he clubbed a three-run double as part of the four-run, ninth-inning rally. The victory clinched UCSB’s first series at UC Irvine in 30 years.
UH Ends Conference Play With Big Win:
Hawai’i captured its fourth Big West Conference series of the year last weekend, and its first against a ranked opponent, as the Rainbow Warriors downed league-leading No. 18 Cal State Fullerton, 2-1. The victory marks UH’s first-ever series win against CSF. Hawai’i, who battles nonconference foe Arizona this week, ends the year with a 12-12 league mark for the second consecutive year.
Jacob Sheldon-Collins continues to pace the ‘Bows in batting average (.364) and hits (67).