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Top Contenders Face Off

4/27/2016

Big West Baseball Release - Week 11

BIG WEST

• Cal Poly swept No. 9 UC Santa Barbara last week to leap to the top spot who the Mustangs share with Cal State Fullerton at 7-2.  Hawai’i sits in third with a 7-5 record and is followed by the Gauchos and UC Riverside who are knotted in fourth with a 5-4 mark.  UC Irvine and Long Beach State sport 6-6 record with CSUN (3-9) holding the eighth spot and UC Davis (2-10) rounding out the nine-team field.

• UC Irvine continues to maintain the top offense in the Big West as it sports a .285 batting average. Cal State Fullerton continues to dominate on the mound with a league-best 2.25 ERA, which places the Titans first in the nation.  The Titans have also been stellar on defense with the nation’s 10th-best mark of .980, a league-high.

• 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

Play Ball:
Cal Poly swept No. 9 UC Santa Barbara to move into a tie for first place in the Big West with a 7-2 record.    The Mustangs kicked off the series with a two-hit shutout over the Gauchos. This marked the first sweep for the Mustangs since they took care of business against San Francisco March 4 & 6. This week Cal Poly visits Long Beach State.

In The Ranks:
  For the first time since the 2015 preseason polls, the Mustangs are in the national polls with Collegiate Baseball awarded them the 19th spot.


CAL STATE FULLERTON

On A Roll:
The Titans, who are currently tied for first in the league, enter their weekend series at UC Irvine having won seven of the last eight contests.  Game one of the series is set to air on ESPN3.

Home Run Derby:
The Titans now have 18 home runs on the season through 39 games, tying them for third in the conference, with 14 of them coming at Goodwin Field. The Titans hit 20 home runs in 64 games last year.  Leading the charge for Cal State Fullerton is Timmy Richards and his six long bombs.


CSUN

CSUN Captures Series Victory:
The Matadors are coming off their first Big West series victory, taking 2-of-3 from Hawai’i.  They look to keep the momentum going with a weekend series at UC Riverside.

Leading The Charge:
The Matadors have two players ranked in the Big West’s Top 10 in batting average with Fred Smith (.339) tied for sixth and Branden Berry (.326) ranked 10th.  Berry also sits second in slugging percentage with a .572 clip, while Smith owns the top spot in hits with 57.


LONG BEACH STATE

Big West Action:
Long Beach State suffered a series loss to UC Riverside last week to fall to 6-6 in league play.  The Dirtbags look to rebound this weekend when they host No. 19 Cal Poly, who just swept then-ranked No. 9 UCSB.

Hot Bats:
Garrett Hampson is leading LBSU’s offense with the conference’s third-most runs scored (35) and sixth-highest hit total (50).  Luke Rasmussen also ranks among the top in the Big West in RBI and home runs.

The Stopper:
Freshman Chris Rivera has earned 11 saves this season to rank fourth in the country. 


UC DAVIS

Davis Woes:
In the last 10 games, UC Davis has only managed to secure one victory, a 9-6 win over UC Irvine.  This week UC Davis, who has yet to earn a series victory this season, takes a break from Big West play to battle former conference foe Pacific.

On The Mound:
Robert Garcia is currently sporting the league’s second-best ERA of 1.86 while limiting his opposition to a .177 batting average.


UC IRVINE

Sophomore Standout:
Keston Hiura has reached base in  50 consecutive games (16-2015 & 35-2016) to lead the nation.  He’s also pacing the Big West Conference with a .406 batting average and .654 slugging percentage.

‘Eaters Take On League Leaders:
UC Irvine enters its matchup against league-leading Cal State Fullerton riding a four-game win streak.  Game one of the series is slated to air live on ESPN3.


UC RIVERSIDE

UCR Finds Success:
The Highlanders have won five of the last six contests, including a Big West series victory over then-ranked No. 17 Long Beach State.  This weekend the Highlanders close out a seven-game homestand hosting CSUN.

Plate Power:
Vince Fernandez paces the Highlanders and ranks fourth in the Big West Conference in batting average with a .351 mark. You can also find him ranked among the top in  hits (T4th, 53), RBI (4th, 30) and runs scored (9th, 28).


UC SANTA BARBARA

Home Sweet Home:
After going 1-for-3 on the road, UCSB should be happy to return to Caesar Uyesaka Stadium to entertain Hawai’i this weekend with the amount of success it has had at home this year. The Gauchos have won 12 straight games at home, the longest streak for the program since 1986 (14 games). 

RPI Rankings:
UCSB enters the weekend with the No. 9 RPI in the country, the highest of any team on the west coast. The next closest squads in the region are Arizona (26) and California (40).


HAWAI'I

‘Bows Stumble:
After sweeping UC Davis, Hawai’i has dropped five of the last six contests and this week’s docket features the most difficult opponent of the season so far for the ‘Bows - No. 16 UC Santa Barbara.  This weekend’s showdown marks the first ranked opponent for Hawai’i this season.

In The Ranks:
Jacob Sheldon-Collins holds the second spot in the league in batting average with a .401 mark.  In conference-only contests he has bettered his average to .412. He sports a league-best 57 hits, a mark he shares with CSUN’s Fred Smith.
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