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CSF In Driver's Seat To Big West Title

5/17/2016

Big West Baseball Release - Week 14

BIG WEST
• Cal State Fullerton took care of business against UC Santa Barbara, 2-1, in a clash of two top 25 teams to maintain the top spot in the Big West Conference standings with a 14-4 mark.  The Titans, who control their own destiny, have a chance to secure at least a share of the Big West title this week.  Long Beach State sits second at 11-7 and is followed by the Gauchos with a 10-8 record.  Cal Poly sits fourth with an even 9-9 mark, while CSUN and Hawai’i are knotted in fifth with a 10-11 record.  UC Irvine and UC Riverside are log-jammed at seventh after posting a 8-10 mark with UC Davis rounding out the nine-team field with a 4-14 record.

• UC Irvine continues to control the top offense in the Big West for another week as it sports a .282 batting average. Cal State Fullerton continues to dominate on the mound with a league-best 2.32 ERA, which places the Titans first in the nation.  The Titans, along with CSUN, are the best on defense in the Big West as they sport the country’s 11th-best mark of .979.

•  The  national  baseball  publications  have  started  releasing their midseason watch lists and four Big West student-athletes have earned various distinctions. The National College Baseball Hall of Fame released its updated 2016 National Pitcher of the Year Award watch list and UC Santa Barbara’s Kyle Nelson made the cut.  McCaughan can  also be found on the USA Baseball Golden Spikes midseason watch list along with UC Irvine’s Keston Hiura.  Sponsored by Major League Baseball and presented in partnership with the Rod Dedeaux Foundation, the 39th Golden Spikes Award is given to the top amateur baseball player. Nelson,  along  with  CSUN’s  Conner  O’Neil  and  Long Beach State’s Chris Rivera, earned spots on the NCBWA Stopper of the Year Midseason watch list.

•  Cal  State  Fullerton  has  been  tabbed  the  team  to  beat  in  2016,  according  to  the  nine  conference  coaches  that  voted  on the 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. LBSU secured the third slot after earning three first-place votes for a total of 62 points and UCSB 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. 

• 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. 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 smart phones and tablets via the WatchESPN app, through ESPN on Xbox LIVE to Gold members, on Apple TV and Roku to fans who receive video subscription from an affiliated provider.


CAL POLY

Back On Track:
After dropping eight of the last nine contests, the Mustangs turned things around last week and took 2-of-3 from UC Irvine to improve to 9-9 in league play.

Leading The Charge:
In Cal Poly’s final game against UC Irvine, senior right fielder John Schuknecht belted his second career grand slam while also knocking in a career-high six runs.  His other career grand slam came against Oregon State a year ago in Corvallis. He is the 20th Mustang in the school’s 22-year Division I history to notch at least six RBI in a game.


CAL STATE FULLERTON

CSF Captures Big Win:
League-leading Cal State Fullerton collected its ninth series victory last week, downing No. 16 UCSB, 2-1. Worth noting, the Titans have only lost one series to the Gauchos at Santa Barbara since 1985.

Bats On Fire:
Last Saturday the Titans downed the Gauchos, 18-2, and posted its first 20-hit game since March 30, 2013, when they tallied 25 hits against Pacific.  For the weekend, CSF, who entered the week with the lowest batting average in the conference at .261, outscored the Gauchos 26-8.


CSUN
Streaking Matadors:
Two weeks ago the Matadors recorded a Big West Conference three-game sweep for the first time since 2013.  They mirrored the effort again last week, sweeping UC Davis to improve to 10-11 in Big West play.

Say Goodbye:
CSUN closes out the home portion of its schedule Tuesday against Pepperdine. The Matadors, who are 21-6 at Matador Field, end the season with a seven-game road trip to Purdue and UC Irvine.


LONG BEACH STATE

Road Tripping:
Long Beach State, riding a five-game win streak, plays its final road contests of the season this week when it visits Loyola Marymount (5/17) and UC Davis (5/20-22).  The Dirtbags are 11-9 on the road this year.

Hot At The Plate:
In the series versus San Jose State  last week, Luke Rasmussen extended his hitting streak to a season-long 15 games.  Rasmussen is currently tied for third in the Big West with 37 RBI and doubles with 13.


UC DAVIS

Facing The Top 25:
  The Aggies are going out in style as they host No. 25 Long Beach State in their final home series of the year.  UC Davis is 3-1 against nationally-ranked teams, which includes a 2-1 series victory over then-ranked No. 13 UC Santa Barbara.

Ace On The Mound:
  Robert Garcia continues to rank among the top 10 in the Big West Conference in ERA, currently owning the eighth slot with a 2.76 mark.


UC IRVINE

UCI Closes Out Season At Home:
The ‘Eaters are gearing up for a seven-game homestand to wrap up the 2016 season.  It includes a weekend series against No. 20 UC Santa Barbara with Saturday’s game aired on Prime Ticket and Sunday’s contest broadcasted on ESPNU.

Alcantara Notches Milestone:
In UC Irvine’s 11-2 win over Cal Poly on Saturday, junior Adam Alcantara blasted his first career home run.  He’s currently fourth on the team with a .306 batting average.


UC RIVERSIDE

Highlanders Stumble:
UC Riverside has won just one game over the last seven contests, but it looks to turn things around this week as the Highlanders gear up for their final string of home games.    The Highlanders battle San Diego State Tuesday and Cal Poly in a weekend series.

Leading The Charge:
Vince Fernandez, who sits fifth in the league with a .344 batting average, is tied for fourth with 65 hits and seventh in RBI (35).  On the mound, Austin Sodders sits ninth with a 2.79 ERA.


UC SANTA BARBARA

UCSB On A Skid:
The Gauchos dropped their second-straight series loss, this time against league-leading Cal State Fullerton to drop to 10-8 in Big West play.

A Free Ticket:
Andrew Calica has been walked 40 times this season to pace the Big West and rank 30th nationally.  He’s been hit by pitch 19 times to sit eighth in the country.

The Small Screen:
UCSB’s weekend contests against UC Irvine are slated to be broadcast live with Saturday’s game on Prime Ticket and Sunday’s on ESPNU.


HAWAI'I

Up Next:
Hawai’i hits the road for the final time in 2016 to take on league-leading No. 18 Cal State Fullerton.  The Rainbow Warriors are 1-5 against the Top 25.

Power Hitter:
Jacob Sheldon-Collins continues to hold the top spot in batting average with a .384 clip. He is also tied for second in hits with 66, one hit shy of the top spot held by CSUN’s Fred Smith.  In conference-only games, Sheldon-Collins is tied for first with 30 hits while sporting a .370 batting average.
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