Big West Takes On Top 25
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11 BB Release-Week 2
Top 25 Showdown
The 12th-ranked Cal State Fullerton Titans travel to the Long Star state this weekend to battle third-ranked TCU. The Horned Frogs were the nations preseason favorite but dropped a few spots after going 2-1 in their opening series versus Kansas. Last year, TCU won the weekend series with Fulelrton, 2-1, at Goodwin Field.
For the second straight week, Long Beach State is battling a Top 25 team. The 49ers went 1-2 in a nonconference three-game series versus nationally-ranked Cal State Fullerton. Both losses were by one run. This weekend Long Beach State continues its 11-game homestand with a showdown against No. 17 Arizona at Blair Field. First pitch is slated for 6:30 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 25.
UC Irvine Opens Season
With A Bang
UC Irvine was one of only two Big West schools to come out of the opening weekend unscathed. The Anteaters recorded a sweep over the Nevada Wolf Pack and they did so in dominating fashion. Fridays 17-4 victory was UC Irvine's largest margin of victory on opening day in program history. The previous best in a season opener was nine runs, recorded in 1972 and 2005. Not showing any signs of struggle with the new bats, the Anteaters continued their power in game two, posting a 15-3 win. They concluded the three-game series with a 7-1 win. In total, UC Irvine scored a conference-best 39 runs in its debut weekend, while holding the Wolf Pack to just eight.
R'Side's Strikeout Kings
UC Riverside pitchers Matt Larkins and Trevor Frank were the only two hurlers to record 10-or-more strikeouts last weekend to pace the Big West Conference. On Saturday, Larkins tossed 11 strikeouts in 8.0 innings pitched, without issuing a walk, to lead UC Riverside to a 3-0 victory over Loyloa Marymount. The following day, the Highlanders received a 10-strikeout, five-hit pitching performance from Frank but were unable to turn it into a victory. UCR fell to LMU, 2-1. As a team, UC Riverside totaled 33 strikeouts over the opening weekend to rank second in the league.
As Seen On TV
As part of the 2011 Urban Invitational presented by the U.S. Army, the UC Irvine-Bethune Cookman showdown will air live on MLB Network and will be streamed live on MLB.com, the official Web site of Major League Baseball, on Saturday, Feb. 26 from the MLB Urban Youth Academy. Greg Amsinger will handle the play-by-play with analysis from Harold Reynolds. First pitch is slated for 1:00 p.m.
Titan Duo Listed On Golden Spikes Watch List
USA Baseball announced its preseason Golden Spikes Award Watch List last Thursday, and a pair of Cal State Fullerton players were recognized - Nick Ramirez and Noe Ramirez. Both Ramirez have picked up several preseason accolades this year, including Nick's selection to the Stopper of the Year watch list. The Golden Spikes watch list features 50 of the nations top amateur players, and it will be a rolling list to ensure that athletes can play themselves into consideration for the Golden Spikes Award, to be presented live on Monday, July 11, at the 2011 Major League Baseball All-Star FanFest in Phoenix, Ariz.
Gauchos Look To Keep Perfect Record Intact
Like UC Irvine, UC Santa Barbara managed to come out of the rain-shortened weekend with an unblemished 2-0 record, defeating La Salle 7-3 and 13-1. This week the Gauchos host Westmont before traveling to Washington State for a weekend series. The Cougars opened the 2011 season going 2-1 versus Cal State Bakersfield.
Pacific, logging in the most miles of any Big West school this week, travels cross-county to compete in the Baseball at the Beach Tournament in Myrtle Beach, S.C. In the three-day event, the Tigers face N.C. State, Kansas State and Western Kentucky. Saturday's contest against the Wildcats is a rematch for the Tigers, who suffered a three-game sweep to Kansas State last weekend.
Cal State Northridge Hires New Head Coach
Matt Curtis, who for the last ten years has been a major contributor in one of the West Coast's most successful college programs, has been hired as head baseball coach at Cal State Northridge. Curtis comes to CSUN from Fresno State where he served as assistant coach for a program that has won five consecutive Western Athletic Conference titles, made four NCAA tournament appearances in the last five years, and won the 2008 College World Series.
Buckley Named Long Beach State Head Coach
Following the retirement of Head Coach Mike Weathers at the end of the 2010 season, Troy Buckley was promoted to head coach. Buckley made his return as the team's pitching coach for the 2010 season after spending two years as the Minor League Pitching Coordinator with the Pirates. That opportunity came on the heels of the tremendous success that Long Beach State's players have had both at the collegiate and professional levels. Since Buckley came to Long Beach State in 2001, the Dirtbags have earned five Big West Pitcher of the Year awards, and in 2004 Jered Weaver was named the National Player of the Year after posting a 15-1 record with 213 strikeouts and a 1.62 ERA.
Mustangs Try To Keep Injury Bug
At Bay In 2011
Cal Poly's hopes to improve on last year depends on the dreaded injury bug that has plagued the team the past few years. The pitching staff has been hit hardest with the Mustangs losing Steven Fischback for both the 2009 and 2010 seasons, Frankie Reed for the 2008 and 2009 campaigns, Matt Leonard in 2009, DJ Mauldin (injured in 2007 season opener) and Mason Radeke (started first four weeks of 2010 season before elbow injury). If the pitching staff can remain healthy, you may find the Mustangs in the mix at the top of the Big West standings. In all, Cal Poly returns 20 letterwinners, including five position starters and nine pitchers, from a squad which fell 17 games below the .500 mark at 10-27 in the first 10 weeks of the 2010 season, but finished 23-32, posting a 13-5 mark in May and climbing from last place to fifth in the Big West Conference.
Up For The Challenge
Long Beach State once again has one of the strongest schedules in the country, ranked third overall and first in nonconference strength going into the 2011 season. The Dirtbags play 17 teams out of 22 total that received votes in the preseason polls, including No. 1 UCLA, No. 8 Cal State Fullerton for six games, No. 9 Oregon, No. 10 Stanford and No. 11 Arizona State.
The Titans constructed the second-toughest nonconference schedule, ninth overall, for the upcoming year with weekend series at preseason No. 1 TCU, 2009 national champion LSU and Hawaii. Cal State Fullerton also faces No. 3 UCLA, No. 11 Arizona State, North Carolina, USC and San Diego.
Long Beach State and Cal State Fullerton aren't the only Big West programs taking on such a challenging schedule. UC Santa Barbara ranks 25th overall and Pacific follows in 26th place. All nine league schools rank in the Boyd's World top 100 overall strength of schedule list.
Titans Unanimous Preseason Pick For 2011 Title
Cal State Fullerton is the predominate favorite in the 2011 Big West Baseball Preseason Coaches Poll, receiving all nine first-place votes. The Titans have at least a share of eight of the last 12 titles and a conference-best 15 overall. UC Irvine and UC Riverside found themselves knotted in second place with 65 votes apiece. Receiving 50 points to grab the fourth slot is Cal Poly while Long Beach State rounds out the top five with 47 points.
UC Santa Barbara secured the sixth spot with 36 total points and Pacific locked down seventh with 26 points. Garnering 22 points was UC Davis, who ranked eighth and was followed by Cal State Northridge (13 points).
Live On The Net
The Big West Conference and the CBS College Sports Network are partnering to bring you exclusive coverage of Big West sports, press conferences, interviews and features into your home via the Internet! Now in its sixth year, BigWest.TV covers every home and conference contest in women's volleyball as well as men's and women's basketball. Also covered are select contests in men's and women's soccer, baseball, softball, and Big West Conference Championships. A monthly subscription of $9.95 or an annual subscription of $79.95 delivers exclusive coverage to you. If you cant make it to the gym or the field, you can still catch all the action on BigWest.TV!