Central Coast Showdown Highlights Baseball Docket
Big West Baseball Release - Week 8
• Big West Conference play began last week and only No. 5 Cal Poly came out of the opening weekend unscathed with a 3-0 record over UC Davis. Hawai’i took two-of-three from nationally-ranked UC Santa Barbara while UC Irvine and Long Beach State also posted 2-1 marks.
This week’s action is highlighted by a central coast showdown that pits No. 5 Cal Poly against No. 13 UC Santa Barbara. The two teams enter the matchup with the top two offenses in the conference as the Gauchos own a league-best .307 batting average and Cal Poly is close behind with a .298 clip. When it comes to scoring, the Mustangs sit atop the rankings with 177 runs scored while the Gauchos are second at 164.
This marks the third weekend series against a ranked opponent for the Mustangs and the first for the Gauchos, but UCSB is 3-0 against the Top 25 this season. Cal Poly won the previous weekend series, sweeping No. 18 Kansas State and downing No. 10 UCLA, 2-1.
Defending champion Cal State Fullerton, who battled Wichita State in a nonconference series last week, begins its quest to the conference crown this week when it entertains the UC Davis Aggies at Goodwin Field.
• The Big West Conference continues to dominate the other west coast conferences (Mountain West, Pac 12, WAC and West Coast), posting an overall record of 77-48 (.616) among its western opponents. The league owns a winning percentage against each individual conference.
• Andrew Morales is one of 30 baseball student-athletes to be named as a candidate for the 2014 Senior CLASS Award®. Current pitching coach, Daniel Bibona, was the first Anteater to win the award in 2010. Morales, a 2014 Big West scholar-athlete, became the only pitcher in UCI history to go undefeated on the mound, posting a 10-0 record last year.
• 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.
• A total of 19 Big West baseball games will be carried on ESPN3. All games will originate from Southern California member institutions Cal State Fullerton, Long Beach State, UC Irvine and UC Riverside. Every Big West team will make an appearance on the baseball schedule
ESPN3 is ESPN’s live multi-screen sports network accessible online at WatchESPN.com, on smartphones and tablets via the WatchESPN app, and streamed on televisions through Xbox, Apple TV and Roku. It is available in more than 85 million households nationwide at no additional cost to fans who receive their high speed internet connection or video subscription from an affiliated provider.
• The Cal State Fullerton and UC Irvine baseball rivalry will be featured this spring on Prime Ticket. The Titans and Anteaters play the final two games of their Big West baseball series from Cicerone Field at Anteater Ballpark on Saturday, May 17 at 6:00 p.m. and Sunday, May 18 at 1:00 p.m.
• 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. and Sunday, April 27 at 7:30 p.m.
History In The Making: No. 5 Cal Poly enters the week having won 13 of the last 14 contests. Their overall mark of 23-4 awards them the best start in school history.
Home Sweet Home: Cal Poly is slated to host CSU Bakersfield Tuesday and No. 13 UC Santa Barbara over the weekend at Baggett Stadium, where it is 16-1 this season.
King Of The Hill: Friday-night starter Matt Imhof owns a microscopic 1.05 ERA to sit second in the Big West while leading the nation with 77 strikeouts. He is averaging 11 strikeouts a game.
CAL STATE FULLERTON
The Quest Begins: Defending Big West Champion and preseason favorite Cal State Fullerton opens conference play this week hosting UC Davis. Friday’s contest at Goodwin Field is set to air live on ESPN3. The Titans enter the week riding a two-game skid.
Pitching Dominance: So far this season the Titans pitching staff has produced a league-best 2.13 ERA. They are led by sophomore Thomas Eshelman’s 1.29 ERA in 56.0 innings of work. He is followed by Koby Gauna’s mark of 1.60.
CAL STATE NORTHRIDGE
On The Road Again: Cal State Northridge kicks off a seven-game road trip with a three-game series at UC Riverside. The Matadors went 1-2 against Long Beach State in their conference-opening series.
Dominant Defense: A .978 fielding percentage ties the Matadors for second in the Big West while leading the league with 763 putouts. The Matadors have four players - William Colantono, Ranny Low, Chester Pak and Nick Blaser - who are error free this year.
LONG BEACH STATE
Tightly-Contested: Nine of LBSU’s last 11 contests have been decided by one run. Unfortunately the Dirtbags have fallen on the wrong side of the decision too many times and own a 4-5 mark over that span.
Against The Best: For the second time in three weeks the Dirtbags are facing a ranked opponent in their weekend series, this time against No. 17 UCLA. The two teams battled each other last week with the Bruins clinching a 2-1 victory.
LBSU Leader: Hitting .361, Garrett Hampson leads the offense and ranks ninth in the league.
Live In Your Living Room: Friday’s series opener at No. 16 Cal State Fullerton will be broadcast live on ESPN3. The Aggies were swept by No. 5 Cal Poly in its conference opener.
Safe Return: Over the weekend, UC Davis senior Adam Young successfully reached base in all three games, extending his streak to 15 consecutive contests. Young currently ranks second in the Big West with an impressive .446 batting average.
Double Trouble: UC Irvine pitching staff seems to be untouchable. Andrew Morales, who recorded his second consecutive complete-game shutout last week, currently owns a miniscule .51 ERA to tie for seventh in the conference. In 52.2 innings pitched, Morales has struck out 56 batters to rank second in the league. Adding more depth to the pitching squad is closer Sam Moore, who picked up two more saves last week to improve to a nation-best 11 saves. He owns a 1.46 ERA in 24.2 innings of work, while striking out 25 batters.
Offense Leads The Way: UC Riverside, led by Francisco Tellez’s explosive .414 batting average, currently ranks third in the league with a .289 hitting percentage.
A Look Back: The Highlanders managed to claim one game in their series versus UC Irvine to open Big West action wit a 1-2 mark. This week UC Riverside hosts Cal State Northridge in a weekend series at the Riverside Sports Complex. The Highlanders are 8-6 when playing in front of their hometown fans.
UC SANTA BARBARA
Epperson Continues To Dominate At The Plate: Joey Epperson continues to lead the league in batting average (.478), on-base percentage (.559), runs scored (26) and hits (44) while teammate Tyler Kuresa owns the top spot in RBI with 29.
UCSB Suffer First Series Loss, Look To Rebound: UC Santa Barbara opened conference play with its first series loss of the season, only managing to win one game against visiting Hawai’i. They look to turn things around this week in a huge way as the Gauchos visit fifth-ranked, conference-leading Cal Poly. UCSB is 5-2 on the road this year.
Hawai’i Wins Big In Conference Opener: Hawai’i opened Big West play with an impressive series win on the road at No. 10 UC Santa Barbara. The Rainbow Warriors stifled the league’s top offense to take two-of-three games. In game one, pitcher Matt Cooper held the Gauchos to just one run, the lowest run total for UCSB this season.
Power Arms: Matt Cooper continues to pace Hawai’i and rank third with a 1.26 ERA but teammate Jarrett Awakawa is also making waves. He currently sits 10th with a 1.95 ERA.