• With three weeks left of the regular season, the race for the Big West title heats up as Cal State Fullerton, UC Irvine and UC Santa Barbara find themselves in a three-way tie for first place with an 11-4 record. Last week while the Anteaters swept nonconference opponent Minnesota, the Titans and Gauchos both swept their respective conference foe to join UC Irvine in the top spot.
This week all eyes are on Goodwin Field as the 22nd-ranked Titans host the No. 7 Gauchos. The first game of the series pits two of the league’s top five pitchers against each other as UCSB’s Dillon Tate (1.63) battles CSF’s Thomas Eshelman (1.94). Tate, who headline’s the nation’s No. 1 pitching staff, is holding the opposition to a league-low .172 batting average, while Eshelman, who leads the nation in strikeout-to-walk ratio (17.20), ranks second in the conference with 86 strikeouts.
While two of the top three teams square off, UC Irvine is set to host defending conference champion Cal Poly, who currently sits fourth in Big West with a 9-6 record. Saturday’s contest airs on FOX Prime Ticket while ESPN3 broadcasts Sunday’s matinee.
• National Award Watch Lists
Brooks Wallace Shortstop of the Year
Peter Van Gansen, Cal Poly
Garrett Hampson, Long Beach State
Mikey Duarte, UC Irvine
Golden Spikes Award
Thomas Eshelman, Cal State Fullerton
Dillon Tate, UC Santa Barbara
Pitcher of the Year
Tyler Peitzmeier, Cal State Fullerton
Dillon Tate, UC Santa Barbara
Stopper of the Year
Tyler Peitzmeier, Cal State Fullerton
• 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. 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.
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.
Cal Poly Looks To Keep Momentum Going:
Cal Poly tallied back-to-back conference series wins to improve to 9-6 in league play to place the Mustangs fourth. This week they visit No. 23 UC Irvine, who is currently in a three-way tie for first with an 11-4 mark.
Mathias’ Power At The Plate:
Mark Mathias currently ranks second in the conference with a .372 batting average. His 37 runs scored places him third while tying for sixth in hits with 58.
CAL STATE FULLERTON
Titans Crack Top 25:
Winning six of the last seven contests, which includes three wins over ranked opponents, Cal State Fullerton is back in the Top 25 for the first time since March 9. Collegiate Baseball tabbed them 22nd in its most recent poll.
Taking It Up A Notch:
In Saturday’s 19-0 shutout victory over UC Riverside, the Titans posted season highs in both runs and hits (25). The last time CSF posted more than 20 hits in a game was a 25-hit outburst in 2013 against Pacific
Going, Going Gone:
In CSUN’s 6-4 victory over Cal Poly Sunday, Albee Weiss blasted two home runs and tallied four RBI. The freshman smacked a three-run shot over the left field wall before hitting a solo homer an inning later. Weiss’ multiple home run game is the second by a Matador this season. Chester Pak hit two homers against CSU Bakersfield on March 24.
King Of The Hill:
The Matadors continue to boast the conference’s second-lowest ERA of 2.75. A trio of pitchers - Rayne Raven (2.31), Conner O’Neil (2.47) and Jerry Keel (2.62) - rank in the league’s top 10.
LONG BEACH STATE
Conference Struggles Continue:
Long Beach State continues to struggle in the second half of conference play as it suffered its first series sweep of the year at home against Hawai’i last weekend. The Dirtbags dropped to sixth place with an 8-10 mark.
Guided By The Arms:
While LBSU has struggled to find its offense at times, sitting ninth in the Big West with a .240 batting average, the pitching staff has been its strong suit. Fueled by freshman Chris Mathewson, who sports the nation’s ninth-best ERA of 1.39, the Dirtbags sit third in the Big West with a team ERA of 2.91.
UCD Suffers Sweep:
UC Davis suffered its first series sweep of the season last week against No. 6 UCSB. The Aggies didn’t go down without a fight as two of the three games were one-run decisions, including the final contest that went 13 innings before crowning a winner.
98, 99, 100:
The Aggies currently rank sixth in the country in stolen bases with 98. Just two more steals and UC Davis will reach the century mark for the first time in DI school history, which is an impressive feat considering one would have to combine the Aggies’ stolen base totals from the previous three seasons just to reach 100 (105).
‘Eaters Face Tough Battle Ahead:
Following a four-game win streak last week, UC Irvine battles nationally-ranked USC Tuesday before retuning home to host Cal Poly in a crucial weekend series. The Anteaters are currently in a three-way tie for first with the two other teams (CSF and UCSB) battling each other this week.
‘Eaters Back In Top 25:
Following the release of Collegiate Baseball’s Top 25 poll, UC Irvine is back in the national rankings as it sits 23rd. The Anteaters fell out of the polls last week following a 2-1 series loss to Cal State Fullerton.
After falling to Cal State Fullerton, 0-3, in last week’s conference series, UC Riverside continues its homestand this week as it welcomes Hawai’i to the Riverside Sports Complex for an unusual Thursday-Saturday series. First pitch for all three contests is slated for 6:00 p.m.
Drake Zarate currently paces the team with a .326 batting average, while Vince Fernandez has tallied team-bests in hits (53) and doubles (13) and RBI (26).
UC SANTA BARBARA
Tough Road Ahead:
After winning five straight conference series, the No. 7 Gauchos face their toughest challenge yet as they are slated for back-to-back series against a pair of teams currently tied with UCSB for first place. This week UCSB visits No. 22 Cal State Fullerton before hosting No. 23 UC Irvine May 15-17. UCSB is 3-2 against the top 25.
A View From The Top:
For the second straight week, UCSB enters the week with the nation’s best ERA at 2.07. Leading the charge is Dillon Tate, who ranks 19th with a 1.63 ERA. Tate also sits sixth in the country in hits allowed per nine innings (5.12).
Get The Brooms:
Last week Hawai’i recorded its second Big West Conference series sweep, this time on the road against Long Beach State. The victories pushed the Rainbow Warriors to fifth in the league standings with an even 9-9 mark. This week UH continues its road trip with a weekend series at UC Riverside.
Deja Vu Saturday:
Two Saturdays in-a-row,starter Tyler Brashears and closer Quintin Torres-Costa combined for a 1-0 shutout victory.