Baseball Opens 11-Game Homestand With Three Against Stony Brook

Kyle Nelson (photo by Tony Mastres)
Kyle Nelson (photo by Tony Mastres)

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• The Schedule
Friday, March 17 at 3:00 p.m. vs. Stony Brook (4-9)
Saturday, March 18 at 2:00 p.m. vs. Stony Brook
Sunday, March 19 at 1:00 p.m. vs. Stony Brook
at Caesar Uyesaka Stadium
All-time record vs. the Seawolves: 1-0
Last meeting: UCSB 4-2 SBU (Mar. 21, 2005 @ UCSB)
UCSB Streak / Last 10:  Lost 3 / 3-7
SBU Streak / Last 10:  Won 2 / 4-6

• On Deck
This week, UC Santa Barbara opens a season-long 11-game homestand with a three-game set against Stony Brook. Game times for the series are 3 PM Friday, 2 PM Saturday, and 1 PM Sunday. New Mexico State comes to town next weekend before UCSB opens Big West play by hosting Long Beach State Mar. 31 to Apr. 2.

• Gauchos on the Air
UCSBGauchos.com will carry live audio broadcasts of each game in the Stony Brook series, with Voice of the Gauchos Gerry Fall handling play-by-play and Kevin Cannon on color. Links will be available on gameday on the UCSB baseball schedule page or on the UCSB stretch portal

• Projected Starting Pitchers
Friday: RHP Noah Davis (3-1, 3.67 ERA) vs. RHP Bret Clarke (0-1, 11.57 ERA)
Saturday: LHP Kyle Nelson (1-2, 5.30 ERA) vs. RHP Sam Turcotte (0-0, 3.45 ERA)
Sunday: TBA vs. RHP Brian Hermann (0-1, 1.80 ERA)

• The Week in Review
UCSB had a tough trip to Provo, dropping three of four to BYU. The Gauchos took the series opener from the Cougars, recording a hit in all nine innings and having the bullpen wiggle out of a pair of late jams in a 10-8 victory. Things didn't go as smoothly the rest of the weekend, with BYU sweeping a Friday doubleheader before mounting a furious comeback to win the finale 14-8. UCSB slashed .316/.397/.463 as a team but also had an 11.32 ERA.

• Four Leaf Clovers Missing
The blue-and-gold have had a rough go of it in close games so far this year, posting a 1-5 record in one-run games. That is already more losses in one-run ballgames than the 2016 Gaucho squad, which went 18-4 in such games.

• Home Sweet Home
Andrew Checketts has turned Caesar Uyesaka Stadium into a fortress since the start of the 2014 season, as the Gauchos have gone 72-20-2 (.783 win percentage) on their home turf in that time. They were dominant at home again last year, going 24-6 (.800) and threatening to finish the year with the best home record in the country before dropping their last two series of the year at Uyesaka Stadium. The Gauchos are 107-42-2 (.718) at home in the entire Checketts era (since 2012).

• East vs. West
Not only is UCSB undefeated in its one matchup with Stony Brook, the Gauchos have gone an unbeaten 7-0 against teams from the America East Conference. UCSB's last matchup against an America East team came last year with a three-game sweep of Hartford at Caesar Uyesaka Stadium.

• On the Upswing
The Gauchos are coming off the two most historic seasons in program history. Last year, UCSB rode a postseason hot streak to the school's first-ever College World Series berth, winning a school-record 43 game against Division I opponents on the way. In 2015, the Gauchos won 40 regular season games, earned the first No. 1 seed in program history, and had a team-record 10 players drafted, including No. 4 overall pick Dillon Tate.

• Preseason Publicity
UCSB was ranked in nearly every major preseason poll, coming in as high as No. 18 (Collegiate Baseball) while also appearing at No. 19 (Baseball America), No. 21 (NCBWA), No. 23 (USA Today), and No. 25 (D1Baseball). The Gauchos were also picked to finish second in the always-strong Big West Conference.

• Non-Conference, No Problem
UCSB has been tough to beat in non-conference play in recent years, going 87-33 (.741) against out-of-league foes since 2014. This trend has been doubly true at home, as the Gauchos have lost a total of one non-conference series at Caesar Uyesaka Stadium since the start of the 2013 season (Oregon in 2015).

• Grover Named to Johnny Bench Award Watch List
Junior Dempsey Grover late last week was named to the Johnny Bench Award Watch List, a trophy given out annually to the top catcher in the NCAA. Past winners include Buster Posey and Kurt Suzuki. After 10 games on the shelf, Grover had a solid return to the lineup last weekend, batting .333 and clubbing his first home run of the year.

• Setting the Table
UCSB utilityman Colton Burns has been one of the top tablesetters in the Big West this season, as he leads the league in walks (13) while ranking in the top-six in on-base percentage (.516, third) hits (20, fourth), batting average (.392, fifth), and runs scored (12, sixth). He was named the conference Field Player of the Week on Feb. 27 after hitting .700 and reaching 16 times in 19 plate appearances against Tulane and CSU Bakersfield.

• Good Things Coming?
It wasn't all doom and gloom last week despite the 1-3 record, as UCSB's bats finally provided consistent output. Discounting a 14-1 blowout of Tulane, The Gauchos' 27 runs in tbe BYU series were as much as the team has scored the rest of the season combined.