No. 19 UCSB Hosts UC Riverside in Penultimate Home Series of 2014

Peter Maris
Photo by Tony Mastres
Peter Maris Photo by Tony Mastres

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• The Schedule
Friday, Apr. 25 at 3:00 p.m. vs. UC Riverside (17-18, 6-3)
Saturday, Apr. 26 at 2:00 p.m. vs. UCR
Sunday, Apr. 27 at 1:00 p.m. vs. UCR
All-Time Record vs. Highlanders: 22-25
2013 series: Gauchos won series 2-1 @ UCR
UCR Streak/Last 10: Won 3/4-6

• Probable Starters
Friday: LHP Justin Jacome (4-1, 2.49 ERA) vs. RHP Jake Smigelski (5-4, 2.97 ERA)
Saturday: RHP Austin Pettibone (2-1, 4.64 ERA) vs. RHP Zach Varela (5-2, 2.67)
Sunday: RHP Shane Bieber (2-1, 2.89 ERA) vs. LHP Ben Doucette (3-3, 4.12 ERA)

• UCSB Baseball on the Radio
All three games of the UC Riverside series will be broadcasted live over the air on AM 1290 – Santa Barbara News-Press Radio – and online at Gerry Fall, the Voice of the Gauchos, will have the call for all UCSB Baseball broadcasts this season. For links to all broadcasts, click here.

• Pulse on the Polls
For the eighth consecutive week, the UCSB Baseball program made an appearance in national polls, ranking as high as No. 19 this week (Perfect Game). Elsewhere, they checked in at No. 25 in the NCBWA poll and No. 27 in Collegiate Baseball.

• RPI Report
With a series loss at Long Beach State, UCSB dropped from No. 33 to No. 37 in the official NCAA Rating Percentage Index. That is second-best among Big West schools behind Cal Poly, who sit at No. 10.

• Nail Clippers Not Necessary
Of UCSB's 12 Big West conference games, all but one have been decided by two runs or less, including the last 10 straight.

• Pitching Dominates at LBSU
Despite losing two out of three games, UCSB's pitching staff surrendered just five runs last weekend  at Long Beach State. That is the fewest runs allowed in a series loss in program history and the fewest in a series overall since allowing five in a three-game sweep of San Jose State from Feb. 24-26, 2012.

• Command Center
UCSB's starters combined to allow just one walk in 20 innings pitched last weekend. That is a positive sign for the sometimes control-challenged Gauchos, who rank eighth collectively in the Big West in walks per game (3.47). UCSB's starters this weekend have done their part limiting extra baserunners, as all rank in the top-10 in fewest Big West walks allowed (Jacome: first, 1; Bieber, fourth, 2; Pettibone, ninth, 3)

• Ball Magnets
With a conference-leading 64 hit by pitches so far this season, UCSB is on pace to get plunked 92 times before the year is out.That would fall just behind last year's program record of 97 and give the team just its third 90+ HBP season ever. Junior 2B Woody Woodward ranks ninth nationally with 16 hit-by-pitches, just two behind UCSB's all-time single season record (Josh McCanne, 2002).

• Closing the Door
Thanks to a dominant setup-closer combo of Greg Mahle and Dillon Tate, UCSB boasts an 18-0 record this season when leading after six innings. Mahle leads the Big West in appearances and sports the 10th best qualifying ERA in the conference, while Tate is second in the Big West with nine saves and has gone without allowing an unearned run in 16 of his 17 appearances en route to a team-low 0.83 ERA.

• Quality Control
Following an eight-game stretch from Mar. 29-Apr. 13 that saw UCSB go without a quality start (six or more innings pitched, three earned runs or less) from its pitching staff, the Gauchos have now recorded a "QS" in four straight contests. That is the longest such streak for the team this season, as UCSB hadn't recorded more than two straight quality starts in a row to this point.

• Riverside Roots
Both head coach Andrew Checketts and assistant coach Eddie Cornejo spent significant time in the Inland Empire before arriving at UCSB. Checketts was an assistant coach/recruiting coordinator at UCR for seven years, helping the team to its first ever Big West championship in 2007 and first top-25 recruiting class ranking in the same year. He started his coaching career at Riverside City College, where he won a state championship in 2001 and set a school record in ERA. Cornejo served as an assistant coach with the UCR in 2011 before being hired by Checketts. Like Checketts, Cornejo spent time as an assistant at Riverside City College as well.