Play Ball: Big West Opens Season With A Bang, Hosting Four Top 25 Opponents
Big West Baseball Release - Week 1
BIG WEST TID BITS
• Four Big West teams will be challenged right from the start as they battle Top 25 opponents for their season-opening weekend series. The Gauchos of UC Santa Barbara entertain No. 5 N.C. State, Hawai’i says Aloha to No. 6 Oregon, Long Beach State welcomes No. 8 Vanderbilt to Blair Field and Cal Poly takes on No. 18 Kansas State. The Big West Conference was 21-36 against Top 25 nonconference opponents last season.
• The Cal State Northridge Matadors announced the hiring of Head Coach Greg Moore over the summer. Moore, recently named by Baseball America as one of the Top 10 Assistant Coaches in college baseball, spent the past three seasons as the associate head coach at the University of San Francisco, where he oversaw pitching, admissions, community service and summer placement. Moore becomes the ninth head coach in Matador history as the program enters its 55th year of competition in 2013-14. While at USF, Moore coached three first-round draft picks and eight players taken in the first 10 rounds of the MLB Draft. Of the eight players, only one had been previously drafted out of high school and three were walk-ons.
• Preseason top-ranked Cal State Fullerton and Hawai‘i will play two games on ESPNU in late April, as ESPN announced its college baseball broadcast schedule last week. ESPNU will broadcast back-to-back contests from Goodwin Field on Saturday, April 26 at 5:00 p.m. (PDT) and Sunday, April 27 at 7:30 p.m. (PDT). Every game on ESPN’s platforms will also be 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.
• A look back at last season: Cal State Fullerton (51-10), who claimed its 27th overall conference championship with a 23-4 mark and earned its 35th berth into the NCAA Regionals - 27th as a Big West member. • The Big West sent three teams to the 64-team NCAA Baseball Championship for the first time since 2009. Big West Champion Cal State Fullerton, Cal Poly and UC Santa Barbara represented the league. • The Gauchos’ at-large selection into the Corvallis Regional marked the school’s first appearance in the postseason since 2001. • Cal Poly competed in its second NCAA Regional since moving to Division I prior to the 1995 season. The Mustangs’ first appearance was back in 2009 when they went 0-2 at the 2009 Regional. • Six Big West teams concluded the regular season with an overall winning percentage above .500 - Cal Poly, Cal Sate Fullerton, Cal State Northridge, Long Beach State, UC Irvine and UC Santa Barbara. The last time the league ended the year with six teams above the .500 threshold was back in 2006. • Titans’ Thomas Eshelman was named national freshman pitcher of the year by College Baseball and the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association (NCBWA).
Hopes Of A Successful 2014: Cal Poly is kicking off the 2014 season on a high note after receiving its highest preseason ranking in the Big West preseason poll as the Mustangs were selected to finish second.
What’s Ahead: The Mustangs return 19 letterwinners from a squad that finished 40-19 last year to set a school Division I record for victories while marking the third time they won at least 40 games in a season.
CAL STATE FULLERTON
Out To Get Them: The Titans open the year as the team to beat after multiple publications tabbed them No. 1 in the their preseason poll. They return 18 players, which includes a pitching staff that led the nation last year in walks allowed per nine innings (1.41), strikeout to walk ratio (4.94) and in WHIP (1.0), while also ranking fourth with a 2.47 earned run average.
Impressive Youth: CSF’s 2013 recruiting class was ranked No. 7 last fall, according to Collegiate Baseball. Baseball America tabbed the Titans’ newcomers 12th.
CAL STATE NORTHRIDGE
Carrying The Momentum: The Matadors, who are coming off just the second winning season for the program since 2002 and the team’s first Top 4 finish in the Big West since the same year, hope to continue where they left off in 2013. Cal State Northridge, under the helm of first year head coach Greg Moore, returns all three of its weekend starting pitchers - Jerry Keel, Calvin Copping and John Salas. In addition, CSUN brings back four position players that appeared in over 50 games and two others that factored into at least half of the games played last year.
LONG BEACH STATE
Beach Starters: Long Beach State returns six position starters from last year and welcomes back two All-Big West selections on the mound. Also returning are Ryan Strufing and Kyle Friedrichs, who missed all of 2013 but return to the mound this year.
Taking On The Best: Long Beach State is one of three Big West schools to open the year hosting a Top 10 team with No. 8 Vanderbilt visiting Blair Field opening weekend. The Dirtbags were 23-11 at home in 2013.
Aggies Open Season At Home: UC Davis opens the 2014 season with a brief homestand as it welcomes Seattle to Dobbins Stadium for a four-game series. This marks the Aggies’ only home contests for the month of February.
UCD Welcomes Back All-Big West Honorees: Leading the Aggies this year are All-Big West Second Team members Steven Patterson and Tino Lipson, along with All-Big West honorable mention selection Nick Lynch.
Home Sweet Home: UC Irvine opens the 2014 season with an eight-game homestand. Included in the mix is a season-opening weekend series against Fresno State. In 2013 the Anteaters posted a 25-9 mark at Cicerone Field at Anteater Ballpark.
Veteran Leaders: UCI returns 2013 co-Big West Player of the Year and ABCA Gold Glove award winner Taylor Sparks. On the mound, Andrew Morales, who was undefeated on the mound in 2013, logging a 10-0 record and a 1.89 ERA who, leads the way.
Highlanders Return Impressive Quartet: UC Riverside welcomes back four 2013 All-Big West members. David Andriese, Joe Chavez and Zach Varela earned second team accolades while Devyn Bolasky grabbed an honorable mention nod.
UCR Opens At Home: The Highlanders are one of seven Big West teams kicking off the 2014 season with a weekend home series. San Francisco heads to the Inland Empire for three contests at the Riverside Sports Complex Feb. 14-16.
UC SANTA BARBARA
Future Looks Bright: During the fall the Gaucho recruiting class was tabbed 31st best in the country by Collegiate Baseball. This is the second consecutive year that the Gauchos have placed on the annual recruiting results.
Off With A Bang: UC Santa Barbara will be tested right out of the gates as they host No. 5 N.C. State in its season-opening weekend series. The Gauchos posted a 7-9 record against the Top 25 last season.
Deja Vu: For the fourth straight year, Hawai’i opens the season hosting No. 6 Oregon in a four-game series. Over the course of the three seasons, UH registered a 3-9 mark against the Ducks.
A Solid Lineup In 2014: Hawai’i begins its second season of competition in the Big West with a veteran club that returns seven of the eight position starters from 2013, while also welcoming back a pair of solid starting pitchers in Matt Cooper and Scott Squier.