Finals Bring Light Week For Big West Baseball
Big West Baseball Release - Week 5
• Cal State Fullerton dropped its ERA to 1.98 to continue to pace the Big West Conference and rank seventh in the nation. On the offensive sides, CSUN jumped to the top spot in batting average with a .292 mark. The Titans and Dirtbags have both been exceptional on defense the first few weeks of the season with the Dirtbags narrowly beating out the Titans (.984) with a .985 fielding percentage. The two teams rank fifth and seventh in the country.
• Long Beach State is back in the rankings, joining Cal State Fullerton and UC Santa Barbara. Long Beach State received a 22nd ranking by DIbaseball.com, while the Gauchos sit 21st and the Titans own the 23rd spot.
• 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.
Going The Distance: Sophomore Kyle Smith, sporting a 2.20 ERA, is one of five players in the nation that has tallied two complete games in the first month of play. Also going the distance this season is sophomore Erich Uelmen, who pitched the Mustangs to a 6-2 victory over nationally-ranked UCLA. He currently owns a 2.70 earned run average.
Road Woes: Cal Poly snapped a five-game win streak last week when the Mustangs hit the road and dropped three of their four contests. The Mustangs continue their season-long, 10-game road trip this week at Sacramento State.
CAL STATE FULLERTON
Get Out The Broom: Cal State Fullerton collected its third weekend series of the season last week after recording its second sweep of 2016, this time against Wichita State. The Titans limited the Shockers to two runs over three games, lowering Fullerton’s ERA to 1.98, seventh best mark in the country.
We’re Number One: The Titan pitching staff is allowing just 5.30 hits per nine innings to lead the nation. Individually, Connor Seabold ranks second with an average of 2.76 hits per nine innings.
Hot, Hot, Hot: The Matadors, who are off to their best start since 1996, enter the week on a nine-game winning streak, the most consecutive victories since the team won 10 in-a-row during the 2002 season. CSUN looks to continue its success this week as it wraps up a nine-game homestand with a four-game series against Houston Baptist.
In The Big West: CSUN is pacing the conference with a .292 batting average and ranks third with a 2.96 ERA. Leading the offense is Fred Smith, who is hitting .429 to sit third in the league while posting the most hits in the nation at 33.
LONG BEACH STATE
Moving On Up: After a week out of the national polls, Long Beach State is back in the rankings at No. 22 after downing Fresno State in a midweek contests and taking the series, 2-1, at Oklahoma.
Near Perfection: Long Beach State is showcasing an impressive defense this year as the Dirtbags rank fifth in the country with a .985 fielding percentage.
The Stopper: Chris Rivera is already making a name for himself in his first season donning the black and gold as he is one of six players to earn six saves this season to lead the country.
Holding Pattern: UC Davis is idle this week due to finals. The Aggies resume action Monday, March 21 when they open a six-game homestand against NorCal foe Stanford at 2:30 p.m.
You’re Out: Robert Garcia is one of two Big West players, and 10 nationally, that has maintained a 0.00 earned run average through the first month of the season. The freshman has tossed 21.0 scoreless innings in seven appearances, striking out 29.
Power Hitter: Keston Hiura, who leads the Big West with a .467 batting average and a .833 slugging percentage, is tied for first in the conference with two triples. As a team, the Anteaters have blasted seven triples to rank 21st in the country.
Home Is Where The Win Is: Lucky for UC Irvine, the Anteaters return home to Cicerone Field at Anteater Ballpark, where they are 6-2, to host Maryland in a midweek contest and Seattle in a weekend series.
Riverside Captures Series Victory: After splitting two of its first three weekend series, UC Riverside finally captured its first series win of the season, downing CSU Bakersfield, 2-1. The Highlanders look to carry that momentum into this weekend where they entertain New Mexico State.
Highlander Leaders: Junior Vince Fernandez has knocked 24 hits to rank fourth in the league, while also tying for eighth in runs scored with 13. You’ll find his teammate, junior Mark Contreras log-jammed in seventh with 12 runs batted in.
UC SANTA BARBARA
Happy To Be Home: Last week the Gauchos returned home and swept Hartford to improve to 12-3 overall and 8-1 at Caesar Uyesaka Stadium. This week they entertain UConn in the three-game weekend series.
Untouchable: Kyle Nelson, who has recorded three wins and a save, has now gone 47.1 consecutive innings without allowing an earned run dating back to last year, a span of 22 outings. He is also one of 10 players in the nation, two in the Big West, that holds a 0.00 ERA in 2016.
Needing A Change: The Rainbow Warriors are hoping to snap a five-game losing streak this week when they host Chicago State (4-10) in a four-game weekend series.
Leading The Way: Jacob Sheldon-Collins paces Hawai’i, and ranks ninth in the conference, with a .354 batting average. His 23 hits also ties him for fifth place in the Big West. Teammate Eric Ramirez is knotted in seventh with 12 runs batted in and Matt LoCoco is one of four Big West players to register two triples.