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Top 25 Matchups Fill This Week's Docket

3/1/2016

Big West Baseball Release - Week 3

This Week In The Big West

BIG WEST
• Cal State Fullerton currently paces the Big West Conference with an impressive 1.89 earned run average, placing them 14th in the country.  The Titans are the only Big West Conference team to own a below-2.00 ERA.  On the offensive sides, UC Santa Barbara continues to hold the top spot in batting average with a .349 mark, good enough for 12th in the nation.  The Dirtbags have been stellar on defense the first two weeks of the season as Long Beach State showcases the second-best fielding percentage in the country at .996.

• UC Santa Barbara and Long Beach State cracked the top 25 in the Collegiate Baseball poll after impressive performances last week.  The Gauchos, who are currently ranked 19th,  took home the title of the Tony Gywnn Classic after sweeping the competition, which included nationally-ranked Kentucky.  The Dirtbags, sitting in the 20th spot, downed No. 14 UCLA in a midweek showdown before taking two-of-three from Arizona State.  Cal State Fullerton continues to rank among the best with its highest ranking of 22.

• The Cal State Fullerton Titans have been tabbed the team to beat in 2016 as they begin their quest to defend the Big West Conference title, according to the nine conference coaches that voted on the 2016 Big West baseball preseason poll.   The Titans earned four first-place votes en route to a total of 71 points while UC Irvine, who received one first-place vote, holds the second spot with 65 points. Long Beach State secured the third slot after earning three first-place votes for a total of 62 points and the Gauchos of UC Santa Barbara picked up the final first-place vote and tallied 60 points to finish fourth.

With 44 total points, CSUN clinched the fifth spot and Cal Poly, who captured its first-ever title in 2014, landed sixth with 43 points.  Hawai’i ranked seventh with 27 points and was followed by UC Riverside (17) and UC Davis (16).

• Last fall Collegiate Baseball announced its annual evaluation of the NCAA Division I recruiting classes and Cal State Fullerton and UC Santa Barbara landed on the elite list.  The Titans secured the 24th spot while the Gauchos grabbed the 36th slot.  Other Big West teams recognized as having notable recruiting classes were UC Riverside, UC Irvine, Cal Poly and Long Beach State. The CBN’s ranking uses only players who joined their respective programs for the 2015-16 school year and excludes all signees who decided to sign a professional contract.

• A selection of Big West baseball games will be carried on ESPN3 this season with all games originating 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 televised baseball schedule.

Through the Big West’s new mobile production facility, each game will be produced by the Conference utilizing full ESPN production standards, including graphics, replay and on-air crew. It is the first fully operational mobile production unit of its kind that expands upon what ESPN Emerging Technology has already done at the institutional level.

Every game on ESPN’s platforms is available through WatchESPN, accessible online at WatchESPN.com, on smartphones and tablets via the WatchESPN app, through ESPN on Xbox LIVE to Gold members, on Apple TV and Roku to fans who receive their video subscription from an affiliated provider.


CAL POLY
Mustangs Notch Top 25 Wins: Cal Poly, who hosted No. 14 UCLA and No. 19 Michigan last week, registered a 2-2 mark.  The Mustangs two victories were a 5-1 score over the Wolverines and a 6-2 win over the Bruins to close out the weekend.

Offensive Powers: Alex McKenna ranks number one in the Big West with 12 runs scored, while teammate John Schuknecht holds the top spot in runs batted in with 11.  Josh George is tied for third in hits and Brett Barbier’s .429 batting average ties him for fifth.


CAL STATE FULLERTON

Titans Sweep Hoosiers: Cal State Fullerton rebounded from a 1-2 start with a series sweep over Indiana last week.  Following a midweek home game versus Arizona, the Titans travel to Texas Tech for a weekend series.

Untouchable: Connor Seabold is one of five pitchers in the league sporting a  perfect 0.00 ERA.  In 6.1 innings of work, he has held the opposition to a league-best .050 batting average.


CSUN
Power Hitters: CSUN has two players ranked in the top five of the Big West in slugging percentage.  Branden Berry ranks third with a mark of .773 and is followed by teammate Yusuke Akitoshi and his .714 clip.

CSUN Carries Momentum East:
The Matadors registered a 4-1 mark last week, shutting down Pepperdine, 3-0, and taking 3-of-4 from Northern Colorado to improve to 5-3.  This week they tackle George Mason on Thursday before competing in their first road series of the year at George Washington.


LONG BEACH STATE
LBSU Takes Down Top 25:
Long Beach State notched its first win against a top 25 opponent last week with an impressive 10-1 victory over No. 14 UCLA.  Dave Smith was credited with the win after tossing 5.1 innings, allowing just one run while striking out five.

The Good And The Bad:
The Dirtbags are second in the Big West with a 2.14 ERA, but have struggled to find their offense, ranking eighth after tallying a .245 batting average.  Despite sitting eighth, Garrett Hampson has been dominating at the plate with a powerful .407 batting average to rank 10th in the league.


UC DAVIS
Aggies Continue Home Stretch: UC Davis continues its eight-game homestand this week hosting both San Francisco (3/1) and Michigan in a three-game series.

UC Davis Leaders: Alex Aguiar and Tanner Bily each have notched 11 hits to lead the team.  Ryan Anderson has driven in eight runs to lead the Aggies and tie for sixth in the Big West.  Continuing to lead in batting average is Mark Cardinalli with a .429 batting average.


UC IRVINE
Sunday Standoff: For the second straight Sunday UC Irvine has shutout its opponent with this week’s performance being a 6-0 victory over Nevada.  Shaun Vetrovec was the starting pitcher for both Sunday victories, throwing 14.0 combined innings with eight strikeouts.  Vetrovec is one of two Anteater pitchers owning a 0.00 ERA, Elliot Surrey (10.0 IP, 7K) being the other.

Power Player: Sophomore Keston Hiura is hitting .484 on the season to sit second in the league while owning the top spot in slugging percentage (.871).


UC RIVERSIDE

Hit The Road:
UC Riverside is scheduled for his first road trip of the 2016 season this week as it travels to Portland for a four-game weekend series.  The Highlanders look to have more success then they did in 2015, when they went 5-20 away from The Plex.

The Long Bomb: Catcher Casey Worden is one of just six Big West players to hit multiple home runs so far this season, blasting two out of the park.


UC SANTA BARBARA

Gauchos Claim Tournament Title:
UC Santa Barbara went 3-0 in the inaugural Tony Gwynn Classic to claim the title.  The Gauchos, who outscored their opponents 36-9, opened with an 11-4 win over nationally-ranked Kentucky before downing Bryant (16-2) and San Diego (9-3).  Designated Hitter Austin Bush went 7-for-11 with six runs driven in to capture the MVP honor.

Bush’s Explosion:
Austin Bush is pacing the Big West with an explosive .500 batting average and sits second in slugging percentage  at .800.


HAWAI'I

Rainbow Warriors Find Success:
Hawai’i picked up its first series of the young season, taking two-of-three against San Francisco to improve to 4-5.

Leading The Charge:
Jacob Sheldon-Collins is leading the way with 16 hits while teammate Eric Ramirez is tied for fifth in the league with 12.  Ramirez, who is knotted in third in RBI with nine, has been  perfect on defense with a 1.000 fielding percentage along with a conference-high 85 putouts at first base.
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