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Top Teams Clash In Central Coast

5/6/2014

Big West Baseball Release - Week 13

BIG WEST

• The Big West Conference’s top two teams clash in the central coast this weekend as the No. 5 Cal Poly Mustangs (11-4) host league-leading No. 22 UC Irvine (14-1) in a three-game series at Baggett Stadium.  Cal Poly, sporting the conference’s highest batting average (.298), faces the conference’s best pitcher in Andrew Morales (8-0), who owns the nation’s second-best earned run average of .91.  UC Irvine, 11-5 on the road, enters the week riding a seven-game win streak, while Cal Poly holds a near perfect 24-2 mark at home this season.

Another exciting Big West showdown this week is happening at Goodwin Field where fifth place Cal State Fullerton entertains fourth place UC Riverside.  All the action can been see live on ESPN3.  Both teams are coming off series losses last week.

Third place Long Beach State, which has posted back-to-back impressive series wins over then-ranked No. 1 Cal Poly and Cal State Fullerton, visits Hawai’i and UC Santa Barbara looks to add a few victories to its postseason resume with a home series against Cal State Northridge.

UC Davis takes a break from Big West action with a nonconference series at Gonzaga.

• UC Irvine’s Sam Moore collected two saves last week to bump his season total to a nation-best 21, setting a new Big West Conference record in the process.  The Rancho Palo Verdes, Calif., native surpassed Long Beach State’s Gabe Gonzalez, who recorded 20 saves during the 1995 season.  With 11 games remaining in the regular season, the national mark of 24 saves in a single season, set by UCLA’s David Berg last year, is well within reach for the Anteater closer.

• 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 94-71-1 (.589)  among its western opponents.  The league owns a winning percentage against each individual conference as well.

• UC Irvine pitcher Andrew Morales is one of 10 finalist for the 2014 Senior CLASS Award in collegiate baseball, it was announced last week.  To be eligible for this award, a student-athlete must be classified as an NCAA Division I senior and have notable achievements in four areas of excellence - community, classroom, character and competition.

Finalists were chosen by national media from the list of 30 candidates announced in March. Nationwide fan voting begins immediately to help select the winner. Fans are encouraged to vote on the Senior CLASS Award website through June 9. Fan votes will be combined with media and Division I head coaches’ votes to determine the winner. The Senior CLASS Award winner will be announced during the 2014 College World Series® in June.

• 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 POLY
Rocky Road:
Cal Poly, which did not lose back-to-back games in the first 10 weeks of the season, strung together four loses before snapping the skid last Saturday and eventually collect the series win against UC Riverside, 2-1.  With two weeks of conference play remaining on the schedule, the Mustangs are in second place with a 14-4 mark.

Back At Baggett:
Cal Poly returns home to Baggett Stadium, where the Mustangs are 24-2 this season, to host Pepperdine and league-leading UC Irvine.  The Mustangs currently pace the conference with a .298 batting average.


CAL STATE FULLERTON

CSF Shutout Of Series Win:
Cal State Fullerton dropped its third conference series of the season last week, suffering a 2-1 loss to Long Beach State, a first since May 24-26, 2008.  LBSU shutout the Titans in the first two contests, before the Titans returned the favor and shutdown the Dirtbags in game three.

Home Sweet Home:
The Big West battle heats up this week at Goodwin Field as the fifth-placed Titans entertain fourth place UC Riverside in a three-game series live on ESPN3.  The Titans have shined at home, posting a 16-6 record, while the Highlanders have tallied a dismal 5-14 mark on the road


CAL STATE NORTHRIDGE

Matadors Hope For Series Win In Central Coast:
After back-to-back series losses, Cal State Northridge is in need of a series victory this weekend when it travels to UC Santa Barbara.  Both teams are coming off Big West series losses last week with the Gauchos getting swept by league-leading UC Irvine and the Matadors falling to UC Davis.

Nick Blasts Off: Nick Blaser continues to pace the Matadors and rank among the best in the league with a .342 batting average.  He also is first on the team with 51 hits and second in RBI (23).


LONG BEACH STATE

The Big Goose Egg:
Long Beach State won four straight games by way of a shutout (April 27-May 3) for the first time in the program’s history. The Dirtbags went on to pitch 41 scoreless innings before the Titans scored their first run in the third inning of Sunday’s matinee.

Frye Guy: In Saturday’s 5-0 win over Cal State Fullerton, Josh Frye pitched eight scoreless innings to lower his earned run average to .97, ranking him second in the Big West and fifth in the nation. Frye is tied for first in the league with a .169 opposing batting average.


UC DAVIS
Aggies Besting 2013:
The UC Davis Aggies improved to 19-24 overall and 5-13 in Big West Conference play, matching its win totals from all of last season in both categories. Next up for the Aggies is a nonconference series at Gonzaga.

UC Davis Leaders:
Kevin Barker tops the charts for the Aggies with the conference’s fourth-best batting average of .355.  On the mound, Spencer Koopmans, sporting a 4-1 record, paces the pitching staff with a 2.91 ERA, while Zach Stone holds  a team-best nine saves.


UC IRVINE
‘Eaters On Hot Streak:
UC Irvine is getting hot down the stretch as it owns a seven-game win streak, the Anteaters’ second-longest streak this season.  UC Irvine swept both UC Davis and UC No. 24 Santa Barbara, along with a midweek victory over USC. 

Top Teams Battle In Central Coast:
For the second straight week the first place Anteaters (14-1) face a ranked opponent in their weekend series, this time its against No. 5 Cal Poly, who sits second in the league with an 11-4 mark.  The matchup pits the conference’s No. 1 offense (.298 - CP) against the leagues top pitcher (Andrew Morales (8-0; 0.97 ERA) - UCI).


UC RIVERSIDE
Highlanders Notch Top 25 Victory:
UC Riverside collected its first win against a ranked opponent last week when it toppled No. 3 Cal Poly 7-2 in front of its hometown fans. UC Riverside is now 1-5 against the nation’s best.

Walker Shines In League Matchups:
Francisco Tellez has paced the Highlanders offense for most of the season but Thomas Walker has been coming on strong as of late.  Hitting a .358 clip, he is currently tied for eighth in the Big West in batting average in conference-only contests.  His 15 RBI in league games ties him for third.

UC SANTA BARBARA
UCSB Swept By UCI:
UC Santa Barbara suffered its first series sweep of the season last week to No. 20 UC Irvine, knocking the Gauchos out of the national polls and dropping their record to 7-11 in Big West play.  The Gauchos look to rebound this week when they host Cal State Northridge.

A Rare Sighting: Last week UC Santa Barbara and UCLA battled to a 5-5 tie after the game was called due to darkness at the conclusion of the 12th inning.  It marked the first time the Gauchos tied an opponent since the 1998 season.

HAWAI'I
Hawai’i Picks Up Quartet Of Wins:
Hawai’i returned to its winning ways last week as it recorded a four-game series sweep over NYIT to improve to 19-25 on the season.  This week the Rainbow Wahine host Long Beach State, which is coming off back-to-back series wins over then-ranked No. 1 Cal Poly and Cal State Fullerton.

Hawai’i’s Offense: Adam Hurley is hitting a team-best .316 batting average and Marc Flores has posted a team-high 38 RBI, good enough for third in the Big West.