Final Tune-Up Before Conference Play Begins
Big West Baseball Release - Week 6
• It was announced last week by the Greater Wichita Area Sports Commission that CSUN’s Dylan Alexander and Cal State Fullerton’s A.J. Kennedy were two of the 75 nominees on the 2015 Johnny Bench Award list, an honor given to the top Division I collegiate catcher. The watch list will be narrowed down to the semifinalists, whom will be announced May 14, 2015. Ballots will be sent to the national voting panel at the end of May for a vote to determine the three finalists. The finalists will be announced June 2, 2015.
• Best In The Nation: UC Davis currently ranks fifth in the nation in doubles, thanks to Nick Lynch and his nation-leading 15 doubles. The Aggies, who also rank 23rd with 204 hits, continue to own the top spot in stolen bases with 59. Leading the charge is Kevin Barker with the country’s second best stolen base total of 17.
CSUN owns the nation’s ninth-lowest ERA (2.11), while Matador hurler Rayne Raven sits seventh with a .34 ERA. CSUN and UC Santa Barbara’s five shutouts ties them for second in the nation. Long Beach State has allowed just 6.50 hits per nine innings to rank fourth, while sporting the second-best strikeouts per nine innings mark of 10.1.
Cal State Fullerton’s Tyler Peitzmeier’s six saves ranks him ninth, while UC Santa Barbara’s James Carter and UC Davis’ Zach Stone are knotted in 19th with five saves apiece. Titan Thomas Eshelman continues to be nearly untouchable, tossing 45 strikeouts for the ninth spot.
• Freshmen Chris Mathewson (7.0 IP, 8K, 1BB) and Darren McCaughan (2.0 IP, 3K) made Long Beach State history as they combined for the first no-hitter in program history on March 1 with a 4-0 win over Wichita State. The Duos’ gem became the 17th no-hitter in Big West history and the first since May 24, 2015, when Cal State Fullerton’s Justin Garza threw a no-no against CSUN.
• A total of 17 Big West baseball contests will be aired across ESPN3 and ESPNU platforms this spring, the conference announced Wednesday. All games will originate from Southern California member institutions Cal State Fullerton, CSUN, Long Beach State, UC Irvine and UC Riverside, and every Big West school will make an appearance on the schedule.
In addition, ESPNU will bolster the Big West’s overall baseball television coverage as two games will be highlighted on that network with back-to-back games between baseball rivals Long Beach State and Cal State Fullerton will also air May 21-22.
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, on Xbox 360, Xbox One, Apple TV, Google Chromecast, Amazon Fire TV and Roku. Live streams of all the Watch ESPN Networks are available at no additional cost to fans who receive ESPN as part of their TV subscription through participating TV providers.
Prime Ticket, the official regional telecast home of Big West athletics, is also slated to air a pair of Big West baseball games. The Cal Poly at UC Irvine game at Anteater Ballpark on Saturday, May 9 and the Long Beach State at Cal State Fullerton on Saturday, May 23 from Goodwin Field will air at 7:00 p.m. on their respective dates.
Tough Road Ahead: Cal Poly is set to face its first ranked opponent of the season this weekend when it hosts No. 8 USC in a weekend series. Earlier this season the Mustangs were slated to battle No. 1 TCU, but the series was canceled due to inclement weather.
Error-Plagued Season: The Mustangs have struggled to find their rhythm this year and fielding may be a large part of the problem. Cal Poly has committed 27 fielding errors, ranking second in the league. In 2014, the defending conference championships recorded a league-low 51 errors.
CAL STATE FULLERTON
See-Saw Season: After winning seven straight, including two series wins over ranked opponents, and returning to the Top 25, it looked as if CSF had turned the corner and shook off their less than desirable 2-5 start. Fast forward a week and the Titans fell to 9-9 after a 0-4 performance.
Up Next: The Titans open the week hosting CSU Bakersfield Wednesday before embarking on an eight-game road trip that includes a nonconference-scoring series against Long Beach State this weekend at Blair Field.
CAL STATE NORTHRIDGE
Fueled By Arms: Stellar pitching continues for the Matadors as they pace the Big West with a 2.11 ERA, thanks in part to Rayne Raven. The junior transfer owns a miniscule .34 ERA to rank seventh in the nation, while striking out 37. He is currently holding his opposition to a .193 clip.
Looking Ahead: CSUN continues its season-long, 12-game homestand with a midweek showdown against Pepperdine and a four-game weekend series with Dartmouth. The Matadors own a 14-5 record, with two of their losses coming by way of nationally-ranked UCLA and the other three were one-run decisions.
LONG BEACH STATE
Dirtbags Back In Action: Long Beach State, who has been idle since March 12, returns to action on March 20 when it hosts Cal State Fullerton in a nonconference-scoring weekend series at Blair Field.
Strength Of Its Arms: Led by Tanner Brown’s 1.65 ERA, which ranks sixth in the league, Long Beach State currently owns the conference’s third-best earned run average of 3.10. The Dirtbags offense isn’t as dominating, posting a .232 batting average to sit eighth in the Big West.
Steakin’ Aggies: UC Davis has won five of its last six contests, which includes a pair of weekend series victories over Seattle and Fresno State. With a 13-7-1 mark, the Aggies currently sit third in the Big West. The Aggies are idle this week and will return to action Tuesday, March 24 with a showdown at San Francisco.
Power At The Plate: The Aggies are hitting a league-best .285 average. Leading the way are Nick Lynch (.397) and Austin March (.333), who sit third and 10th in the Big West.
‘Eaters Continue To Pick Up Ws: UC Irvine recorded its third straight weekend series victory after taking 2-of-3 from San Jose State.
Manarino Goes The Distance: In Sunday’s 4-1 win over San Jose State Evan Manarino tossed his first complete game of his career, striking out five and allowing just four hits. So far this season, Manarino is 2-0 with a 4.20 ERA and has struck out 23 batters.
Long Bombs: The Anteaters have blasted a league-high 12 home runs this season, matching their season total in 2014.
Homestand Continues: Home-field advantage continues for the Highlanders this week as they gear-up for a series against Tulane at the Riverside Sports Complex.
Non-Stop Action: UCR’s offense exploded in its final game of the North Dakota series, racking in a whopping 25 runs, the most runs scored by the Highlanders since they topped UC Davis 26-7 on May 29, 2010. The hot bats lifted the Highlanders to 99 runs scored this season, second-best in the league. They are led by Drake Zarate (.346) and Austin Colvin (.341), who sit sixth and seventh in the Big West.
UC SANTA BARBARA
Leading The Charge: UCSB currently ranks second in the league in ERA (2.25), while holding the fourth spot in batting average (.275). He’s struck out 41 batters, third-best in the Big West, and allowed just four earn runs en route to a 3-1 record. Fueled by Tate’s arm, the Gauchos are second in the league with a team ERA of 2.16.
Bieber Shines: Sophomore Shane Bieber tossed his first complete game Saturday against Wichita State. He threw 138 pitches, allowing seven hits, two earned runs and walked just one, while notching a career-high 10 strike outs.
Fan Favorite: Hawai’i is averaging 3,228 fans per game at Les Murakami Stadium this season to rank 15th in the country. The Rainbow Warriors close out an eight-game homestand this weekend against New Mexico State before heading to the mainland for their conference opener against UC Irvine on ESPN3.
UH Leaders: Kaeo Aliviado leads UH’s offense with a .276 batting average, 21 hits and 12 runs scored. On the mound, LJ Brewster paces the team with a 2.23 ERA in five starts and has struck out a team-best 21.