Baseball Enters Final Week Of Nonconference Play
Long Beach State Battles Through Top 25 Competition
Long Beach State entered the 2011 season with the toughest nonconference schedule in the nation, according to Boyd's World. So far this season, the 49ers have played 14 of their 19 contests against a ranked opponent. Over that span, they have boasted a 6-8 record. This week doesn't get any easier for Long Beach State as it plays its sixth straight weekend of competition against a ranked opponent. After a midweek contest with Loyola Marymount, the 49ers travel to the Bay Area to battle the 12th-ranked Stanford Cardinal. Prior to hosting Long Beach State, Stanford is scheduled to face Big West members UC Davis (3/21) and Pacific (3/23).
Rain, Rain Go Away
Mother Nature has not been kind to the baseball season with torrential downpours causing major shuffling with the schedule. Last weekend marked the third time games were either rescheduled, canceled or converted into doubleheaders due to the inclement weather. Cal Poly suffered such bad weather they werent even able to get one contest in against UCLA. The two teams are attempting a doubleheader on Monday, March 21. Looking ahead, the forecast doesnt seem too promising as weather.com is calling for rain throughout the week.
Anteaters On Top
As we enter the final week of nonconference play, UC Irvine is holding the top spot in the Big West Conference with an overall mark of 14-2. The Anteaters' two losses this season were to West Coast Conference members Saint Mary's (1-0) and Loyola Marymount (4-0). UC Irvine strung together a season-best seven straight victories to open the year before falling to the Gaels. UC Irvine continues its seven-game road trip with a midweek contest versus UNLV and a three-game series at Gonzaga.
LMU Takes On The Big West
By looking at West Coast Conference member Loyola Marymount, one would think it is part of the Big West Conference, seeing how it has played 14 of its first 20 games against Big West teams. Over that span, the Lions have posted a 8-6 mark. The Big West stretch continues for LMU this week when it plays Cal State Northridge. In all, LMU faces seven of the nine Big West schools this season and plays 21 of its 34 (62%) nonconference contests against the Big West.
The Big West-heavy schedule might have something to do with LMU head coach Jason Gill and assistant coach Ted Silva, who both have tenures in the Big West. Gill and Silva acquired coaching stints on the Cal State Fullerton and UC Irvine squads.
Pacific Tallies First Series Win
A 2-1 performance against USC last week solidified Pacifics first series win of the 2011 season. The Tigers opened the weekend series with an 8-2 loss to the Trojans Friday evening. The following day they took both games of a doubleheader, 10-9 and 7-2, to capture the series. It was also the first back-to-back victories for Pacific since Feb. 27 and March 2 when it tallied wins against Western Kentucky and Sacramento State.
Boasting three pitchers in the Big West Conferences top five in earned run average, it is no surprise that Cal State Fullerton leads the conference with a 2.51 ERA. Colin OConnell holds a league-best 1.42 ERA and is followed by teammate Jake Floethe (1.85) in the second slot. Rounding out the top five is Tyler Pill, who owns a 2.05 earned run average.
By An Inch
There have been a multitude of tightly-contested battles on the diamond this season for the Big West Conference. In fact, 33% of the games played have been decided by one run. The nine league schools hold a 27-24 mark in the one-run decisions.
Extra-inning ball games seem to be a regular occurrence this season with the Big West nearly doubling the amount of extra inning contests played from last season. In 13 extra-inning games, the Big West owns an impressive 10-3 record. UC Riverside leads the league in extended contests with four, while Cal Poly and UC Santa Barbara are the only two yet to go into extra innings.
Gillespie Earns 900th Win
A 5-3 win over Sacramento State on Saturday, March 12 handed UC Irvine Head Coach Mike Gillespie his 900th career victory. The fourth-year skipper of the Anteaters now owns a 901-526-2 record in his 23rd year of Division I coaching.
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.
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).
Best Of The Big West
Of the nine current members in the Big West Conference, six of them have won the Big West title - Cal State Fullerton, Cal State Northridge, Long Beach State, UC Riverside, UC Santa Barbara and the most recent addition, UC Irvine, who won its first-ever title two years ago with a near perfect conference mark of 22-2.
Most Multi-Hit Games
Jordan Fox, UC Irvine - 10
Matthew Carvutto, Pacific - 9
Richy Pedroza, Cal State Fullerton - 9
Sean Williams, UC Santa Barbara - 9
Ryan Goetz, UC Riverside - 8
Tony Nix, UC Riverside - 8
Jordan Fox, UC Irvine - 7
Steven Keller, Cal State Northridge - 7
Longest Hitting Streaks
Drew Hillman, UC Irvine - 11
Brett Morgan, UC Davis - 11
D.J. Crumlich, UC Irvine - 10
Jordan Leyland, UC Irvine - 10
Richy Pedroza, Cal State Fullerton - 10
Steven Keller, Cal State Northridge - 10
* - active streak
Big West Vs. Top 25
Cal Poly 1-0
Cal State Fullerton 2-5
Cal State Northridge 0-0
Long Beach State 6-8
UC Davis 0-2
UC Irvine 0-0
UC Riverside 0-1
UC Santa Barbara 0-1
Live On The Net
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