Undefeated Cal Poly Battles Defending National Champion UCLA
Big West Baseball Release - Week 2
• Cal Poly’s Matt Imhof picked up Louisville Slugger Collegiate Baseball National Player of the Week honors after he registered a career-high 14 strikeouts Friday night as the Mustangs beat nationally-ranked Kansas State, 3-0. Imhof pitched seven scoreless innings, allowing just two hits and three walks.
• Four Big West teams opened the 2014 season winning their weekend series - Cal Poly, Cal State Fullerton, Cal State Northridge and UC Riverside. However, the Mustangs were the only team to record a series sweep, downing No. 18 Kansas State by score of 3-0, 5-2 and 10-1 at Baggett Stadium.
• Fans received a lot of free baseball this weekend as five games went into extra innings. UC Irvine was the main culprit with back-to-back extra inning contests. Friday’s matchup against Fresno State went 10 innings and the Anteaters topped that on Saturday with a 13-inning outing. UC Irvine dropped both contests.
Cal State Northridge and Cal State Fullerton each battled 11 innings on Saturday while Hawai’i took No. 6 Oregon to 10 innings in Sunday’s matinee.
• Last week USA Baseball announced its 60-man preseason Golden Spikes Award watch list and six Big West student-athletes made the list. A quartet of Titans - junior Matt Chapman, junior J.D. Davis, sophomore Thomas Eshelman and sophomore Justin Garza - were joined by Cal Poly’s Matt Imhof and UC Irvine’s Taylor Sparks. Sponsored by Major League Baseball, the Golden Spikes Award, given to the top amateur baseball player, will be presented in 2014 for the 37th time.
• The National Collegiate Baseball Writer’s Association (NCBWA) also announced its 2014 preseason stopper of the year watch list and the Big West Conference received two nods in UC Santa Barbara sophomore Dylan Hecht and Cal Poly junior Reed Reilly. The prestigious award, in its 10th season, is given to the top relief pitcher in NCAA Division I baseball.
• 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).
Mustangs Open Season With Impressive Series Sweep: Cal Poly had a strong showing opening weekend with a home sweep over No. 18 Kansas State. Up next is a midweek contest at Santa Clara before visiting defending national champion UCLA for a three-game weekend series.
Friday Night Fireworks: Junior southpaw Matt Imhof tied a Cal Poly Division I record with 14 strikeouts to lead the Mustangs to a 3-0 victory over the nationally-ranked Wildcats.
CAL STATE FULLERTON
Eshelman Ties Career-Best Performance: Opening the season for the Titans, 2013 Big West Freshman Pitcher of the Year Thomas Eshelman tied a career-high with eight strikeouts in his seven innings of work to lift Cal State Fullerton to a 12-0 victory over Washington State.
Top Dog: Cal State Fullerton maintained its top spot in the Collegiate Baseball national poll after going 2-1 against Washington State last weekend, while dropping to second in the NCBWA poll. The one game the Titans lost to the Cougars was an 11-inning, 9-7 defeat.
CAL STATE NORTHRIDGE
CSUN Wins First Road Series Of Season: After dropping the first of a three-game series, Cal State Northridge registered two consecutive shutout victories to claim the series over Bethune-Cookman. The entire series was a tightly-contested pitcher’s duel that witnessed only eight combined runs scored in three games.
Power On The Mound: In their opening weekend series, the Matadors’ pitching staff posted a combined 0.96 ERA.
LONG BEACH STATE
A Look Ahead: After falling to No. 8 Vanderbilt last week, Long Beach State is set to host another Top 25 opponent in Arizona State on Friday, Feb. 21. The Dirtbags also battle Wright State on Saturday and then visit UC Irvine in a nonconference showdown.
Their Grand Return: The Dirtbags welcomed back three All-Big West selections from 2012 that missed all of the 2013 season - outfielder Johnny Bekakis, pitcher Ryan Strufing and closer Kyle Friedrichs.
Road Warriors: The UC Davis Aggies embark on a season-long 12-game road trip this week that begins in Moraga, Calif., for the Gael Invitational where they battle host Saint Mary’s, Portland and Kansas State.
Close But No Cigar: UC Davis dropped its season-opening four-game series to Seattle, 3-1, but victories were definitely within reach. Two of the three losses were by one run as UCD fell to Seattle, 2-1, in the first game and 4-3 in game three.
Close Encounters: Thirty two...the number of innings played in the Fresno State-UC Irvine three-game series last weekend. This tightly-contested series showcased two one-run decisions and two extra-inning contests. The Bulldogs took the first two contests by scores of 2-0 (10) and 8-7 (13), while the Anteaters slipped past the Bulldogs, 1-0, in the final game.
Pitching Powers: Andrew Morales (4H, 8K) and Evan Brock (3H, 6K) each pitched seven scoreless innings against Fresno State.
Offense Explosion: The bats were hot for UCR as it tallied 21 runs in the series win over San Francisco last weekend. Joe Chavez, who hit .500 for the series, led the Highlanders and tied for first in the Big West after scoring five runs.
Highlanders Headed To Lone Star State: Following a Monday matchup with Washington State, UC Riverside travels to Texas State for its first road contests of the season. The Highlanders hope to fair better on the road this year then last season where they went 1-22.
UC SANTA BARBARA
Winter Storm Troubles Hit UCSB: Despite living in sunny southern California, UC Santa Barbara was still effected by the winter chill that has hit the east coast. The Gauchos’ home series against No. 5 N.C. State was cancelled when the Wolfpack were unable to catch a flight out west. The Gauchos now open the 2014 season Tuesday when they host CSU Bakersfield at 2:00 p.m. They follow that up with a weekend series at San Jose State.
Hanging With The Big Boys: Hawai’i may have dropped all three contests to sixth-ranked Oregon over the weekend but the Rainbow Warriors proved they could hang with the best as two of the contests were decided by one run, including a 10-inning, 6-5 Sunday matinee.
Home Sweet Home: The Rainbow Warriors continue their 12-game homestand this week as the close-out a four-game series with Hawai’i on Monday and then entertain Pepperdine this weekend.