Top Teams Clash In Irvine
Big West Conference Baseball Release - Week 11
BIG WEST TID BITS
• A 4-0 week that included a midweek victory over No. 13 UCLA bumped UC Irvine to 24-14 overall and 8-4 in the Big West Conference to sit tied for first in the standings with preseason favorite Cal State Fullerton (6-3). Winning 10 of the past 12 contests has also garnered some attention nationally as the ‘Eaters are now receiving votes in several of the Top 25 polls. The two teams clash this weekend at Cicerone Field at Anteater Ballpark as UC Irvine hosts Cal State Fullerton in a battle for the top spot.
Hawai’i, who dropped its series to Cal State Fullerton last week, owns the third spot in the standings at 7-5 and hosts CSUN (5-7) this week. Cal Poly is fourth at 6-6 and is followed by UC Riverside and UC Santa Barbara, who are knotted in fifth with a 4-5 mark. CSUN and UC Davis are tied for seventh after registering 5-7 records and Long Beach State rounds out the nine-team field at 3-6.
• Cal Poly takes a break from conference play this weekend to host No. 4 UCLA. The Mustangs are 2-3 against the Top 25 this season. The Titans also battle the Burins in a Tuesday-night showdown in Los Angeles before UCLA heads to San Luis Obispo.
• A 5-4 victory over Long Beach State Friday night, before 2,431 fans, the largest home crowd this season, awarded Cal Poly head coach Larry Lee (16th season) his 500th career win.
• The College Baseball Foundation released its initial Pitcher of the Year Award Watch List, highlighting 78 of the top arms in the country. Representing the Big West on the elite list are UC Irvine’s Andre Pallante and UC Riverside’s Cole Percival. The foundation also announced the midseason John Olerud Two-Way Player of the Year list and UC Irvine’s Nick Anderson and Long Beach State’s Clayton Andrews were recognized.
• Versus the Nation: Cal Poly has turned 38 double plays to rank 20th...CSUN is sitting eighth in home runs with 54 and 14th in slugging percentage (.469)...Long Beach State and Hawai’i pace the country in sacrifice bunts with 43. CSF also ranks 14th with 36...UC Irvine’s 24 sacrifice flies places the ‘Eaters in the 11th slot...UCI’s Andre Pallante continues to own the ninth spot in earned run average with an impressive 1.30 mark...Cal Poly’s Darren Nelson has started 13 games this year, second most in the nation...CSUN’s Joey Cooper has been hit by a pitch 17 times this year to rank eighth...CSUN’s Albee Weiss is fourth with 15 home runs. His 46 RBI ranks 20th...UH’s Jonathan Weeks paces the nation with 19 sacrifice bunts...Dirtbag Chris Rivera has tallied 11 saves to sit sixth, while UH’s Dylan Thomas is 11th with 10 saves...LBSU’s Clayton Andrews is the fourth toughest player in the nation to strike out.
• UC Irvine head baseball coach Mike Gillespie announced he will retire at the end of the 2018 season and will be replaced by associate head coach Ben Orloff, UCI athletic director Mike Izzi announced. Gillespie has amassed 361 wins since joining UCI in 2008. Under Gillespie’s guidance, UC Irvine made five trips to the NCAA postseason, including a College World Series (2014), the year he was named NCBWA Coach of the Year.
• The top three teams in the Big West Baseball Preseason Coaches poll will be featured on ESPNU this season. The Dirtbags will also host rival Cal State Fullerton on Thursday, May 24. It’s a rematch of the 2017 best-of-three NCAA Super Regional at Blair Field, which the Titans won to advance to their 18th College World Series. Twelve conference baseball contests are also scheduled to appear on ESPN3.