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More Ranked Opponents Loom Ahead For Big West Baseball

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12 BB Release-Week 2


Three series against top 25 non-conference opponents highlights the Big West baseball schedule this week.  No. 19 Cal State Fullerton hosts No. 11 TCU, Long Beach State entertains No. 20 California and UC Riverside visits No. 12 Arizona State.


Titans Preseason Favorite

Cal State Fullerton was selected as the favorite to capture the 2012 Big West Conference title according to the 2012 Big West Baseball Preseason Coaches Poll after receiving six of the nine first-place votes and totaling 76 points. Picking up three first-place votes was UC Irvine, who was selected second with 70 points. Rounding out the top three after collecting 58 points were the 49ers of Long Beach State.

Last season CSF claimed its 25th Big West Conference championship after posting a 19-5 mark. Entering his first season as head coach of the Titans, Rick Vanderhook guides a team that welcomes back 16 letterwinners, six of which are starting position players. Unfortunately the Titans lost all their starting pitchers in the offseason so they will rely on a young and inexperienced pitching squad.

UC Irvine is coming off a season where it posted a fourth 40-plus win season (43-18) in five years, finished second in the Big West with a 16-8 mark and advanced to the Super Regionals after earning an at-large berth into its sixth-straight NCAA Tournament. Head coach Mike Gillespie returns three All-Big West honorees, including American Baseball Coaches Association Gold Glove catcher, Ronnie Shaeffer.

Third-place pick Long Beach State might be showcasing the most veteran Big West team this season as the 49ers welcome back 24 letterwinners, which includes seven starting position players and two starting pitchers from last year’s team. Long Beach State boasted a 29-27 overall mark after playing one of the strongest schedules in the country.

Earning the fourth spot is Cal Poly, who finished last season in third place with a 15-9 record. This year head coach Larry Lee leads a team that is highlighted by five starting position players and four starting pitchers.

UC Riverside secured the fifth spot with 44 total points, followed by UC Santa Barbara in the sixth slot with 37 points. Pacific garnered 37 points to lock down the seventh spot, while UC Davis and Cal State Northridge were picked eighth and ninth, earning 23 and 18 points, respectively.

Pitching Staffs Deal Four Shutouts

The opening weekend of the 2012 season witnessed some rather impressive pitching performances from Big West hurlers.  A total of four shutouts occurred, including two from the Cal Poly pitching staff against perennial NCAA regional participant Oklahoma State.  Three of the shutouts were combined.  UC Riverside lefty Dylan Stuart, the Big West Pitcher of the Week, was the only one to throw a complete game shutout as he stifled Brigham Young.  Thanks to allowing Oklahoma State just three runs in three games, Cal Poly was the only Big West team to escape the first weekend of play unscathed.  In fact, the Mustang pitching staff posted an impeccable 0.67 ERA with 27 strikeouts against only five walks.  It was the first time Cal Poly swept a season opening series since 2006 against Fresno State.

Here are the impressive pitching lines from week one of non-conference play:
Player, School Oppt. IP H R ER
Joey Wagman, CP Oklahoma State 8.0 2 0 0
Dayne Quist, UCD Utah 6.0 3 0 0
Dylan Stuart, UCR Brigham Young 9.0 5 0 0
Kyle Brueggemann, CP Oklahoma State 6.2 6 0 0

Three Ranked Foes On Tap
The Big West picked up a couple of victories against top 25 opponents last week, giving two skippers their first career head coaching victories.  Cal State Fullerton salvaged the third game of a season-opening series against top-ranked Florida to put first year head coach Rick Vanderhook in the win column.  On the Central Coast, UC Santa Barbara handed new mentor Andrew Checketts his initial head coaching win as the Gauchos upended No. 19 Oregon State once during their four-game set.

This week’s schedule features the Big West against three ranked opponents.  UC Riverside travels to No. 12 Arizona State as part of a slew of games against Pac-12 opposition.  Long Beach State hosts No. 20 California and No. 11 TCU invades Cal State Fullerton’s Goodwin Field in a clash between two top 25 programs.

Titans, Anteaters Stay In Top 25
Perennial Big West top 25 programs Cal State Fullerton and UC Irvine remained amongst the nation’s best in a couple of polls after the opening weekend of play.  The Titans, which play the nation’s toughest non-conference schedule, opened up 1-2 against No. 1 Florida and the mild success kept them situated at No. 19 in both the NCBWA and Collegiate Baseball polls.  UC Irvine moved up to No. 21 in the NCBWA and No. 27 in Collegiate Baseball after a 3-0 week at the MLB Urban Invitational.  The Anteaters promptly dropped a Monday afternoon contest to UNLV but hope to redeem themselves with a home series this weekend against Pac-12 Washington.

Palermo Saves Gauchos From Dark
UC Santa Barbara senior Ryan Palermo hit a dramatic ninth inning home run to tie the game at 12-12 in the second game of a doubleheader against Oregon State on Saturday.  The blast occurred right before the umpires suspended the game due to darkness.  Once the teams reconvened to finish the game on Sunday morning, the Gauchos scratched across the game-winning run in the 12th inning to win, 13-12.

LBSU’s Magallon Named To Preseason Watch List
Junior Eddie Magallon was one of 45 pitchers to be named to the 2012 National Collegiate Baseball Writer’s Association (NCBWA) Stopper of the Year Award preseason watch list. The annual award is given to the top relief pitcher in NCAA Division I baseball.  Magallon (2-1) posted a career-low 3.62 ERA last season for the Dirtbags in 23 appearances, while tallying nine saves to rank third in the Big West Conference.

This is the second time Magallon was named to the Stopper of the Year watch list after receiving the same recognition last year.  The NCBWA’s All-America Committee will select the winner, with this year’s recipient to be announced during the 2012 College World Series.

The Boob Tube
Two Big West contests have been selected by ESPNU as part of its 2012 college baseball coverage.  The showdown between defending championship Cal State Fullerton and 2009 Big West Champion UC Irvine is slated to air on Sunday, April 15 at 2:00 p.m. at Cicerone Field at Anteater Ballpark.  The Anteaters make their second appearance on ESPNU the following month when they host UC Santa Barbara on May 6 at 2:00 p.m.

New Blood At Helm Of Three Programs
The Big West features a multitude of fresh faces this baseball season as one-third of the schools changed leadership in the offseason.  Cal State Fullerton, UC Davis and UC Santa Barbara showcase a new skipper for the 2012 season. 

Following the departure of Head Coach Dave Serrano, who left to take the head job at Tennessee, Cal State Fullerton hired former Titan assistant Rick Vanderhook as the Titans’ fifth Division I head coach.  A coaching veteran of 12 conference championships, 20 postseason appearances, eight Super Regionals appearances, 11 trips to the College World Series and two national championships, Vanderhook comes back to lead a program that has been a fixture among the nation’s elite since 1975.

UC Davis elevated associate head coach Matt Vaughn to head coach after Rex Peters announced his resignation following the conclusion of the 2011 season.  Vaughn, an Aggie pitcher from 1989-92, enjoys a long affiliation with UCD and has spent the last 19 seasons as an assistant.

Andrew Checketts, who has spent the past three seasons as the top assistant coach/recruiting coordinator at Oregon, was named UC Santa Barbara’s new head baseball coach following the departure of Bob Brontsema.  Checketts becomes the ninth head coach in Gaucho baseball history.

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 three years ago with a near perfect conference mark of 22-2.