UCSB Opens Big West Action Against LBSU, Series to be Streamed

Colton Burns (photo by Eric Isaacs)
Colton Burns (photo by Eric Isaacs)

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• The Schedule
Friday, March 31 at 3:00 p.m. vs. Long Beach State (14-10)
Saturday, April 2 at 2:00 p.m. vs. Long Beach State
Sunday, April 3 at 1:00 p.m. vs. Long Beach State
at Caesar Uyesaka Stadium
All-time record vs. the Dirtbags: 80-89
Record vs. LBSU in Checketts era: 7-8
2016 series: UCSB wins 2 of 3 at LBSU
UCSB Streak / Last 10:  Won 3 / 5-5
LBSU State Streak / Last 10:  Lost 1 / 8-2

• UCSBGauchos.com to Debut Video Stream This Weekend
To coincide with the start of conference action, UCSBGauchos.com will unveil a multi-camera video stream for all three games this weekend. Voice of the Gauchos Gerry Fall will be on the mic alongside former UCSB coach Bob Brontsema. Meanwhile, Kevin Cannon will have the audio call. Links to all broadcasts can be found on gameday on the UCSB baseball schedule page.

• Projected Starting Pitchers
Friday: RHP Noah Davis (4-2, 5.21 ERA) vs. RHP Darren McCaughan (2-1, 3.48 ERA)
Saturday: LHP Kyle Nelson (3-2, 3.48 ERA) vs. RHP John Sheaks (2-1, 4.25 ERA)
Sunday: RHP Chris Clements (1-3, 6.38 ERA) vs. TBA

• The Week in Review
UCSB won its second straight series last weekend, taking two of three from New Mexico State before pouncing on Pepperdine for a 10-3 win on Tuesday, the Gauchos' first midweek victory of the year. UCSB enters the weekend with a three-game win streak, tied for the team's longest this year. Starting pitching was the difference last week, with three of four starters throwing seven or more innings and allowing two earned runs or less. The offense batted .314 as a team last week, led by Tommy Jew's .500 batting average and Austin Bush's eight RBIs.

• Nelson Named Big West Pitcher of the Week
On Monday, UCSB's Kyle Nelson was named Big West Pitcher of the Week following his standout effort against New Mexico State. Nelson went 8 1/3 shutout innings against the Aggies, giving up just three hits while tallying a career-high eight strikeouts and pitching into the ninth for the first time ever. He didn't allow a runner past first base the entire game.

• Home Sweet Home
Andrew Checketts has turned Caesar Uyesaka Stadium into a fortress since the start of 2014, as the Gauchos have gone 77-22-2 (.778 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 with the best home record in the country before dropping their last two series of the year. The Gauchos are 112-44-2 (.718) at home in the entire Checketts era (since 2012).

• First Things First
UCSB has shown a knack for scoring in the first inning this season, doing so three times in four games last week and 10 of 22 contests overall. The Gauchos are 8-4 when scoring first in games this year, but they are looking to do a better job of sustaining offense as they are outscoring opponents 34-9 (+25) in the first inning but are being outscored 110-82 (-28) in the second inning and beyond.

• Quality Control
UCSB's three-game win streak coincides with a three-game streak of quality starts by Gaucho pitchers, the first time UCSB has recorded quality starts in consecutive games in 2017. The Gauchos are 6-1 this year when their starter notches a QS (6+ IP, 3 ER or less), and their one loss was a 2-1 pitcher's duel against Kentucky.

• Getting In A Groove
Though the Gauchos struggled to a .225/.332/.328 team slash in February, the team has really turned it around as of late. In 11 games since Mar. 9, UCSB has crafted a .321/.400/.459 slash line and five lineup regulars now have batting averages above .300.

• UCSB-LBSU? Look Elsewhere for Runs
Over the last three years, UCSB-LBSU series have been known for low-scoring affairs. In the nine games played between the two since 2014, the Gauchos and Dirtbags have totaled 34 runs between them, an average of 1.9 runs per team per game. The highest-scoring game in the last three years? A 4-3 Gaucho win last year.

• 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.

• On the Move
With more runners getting on base, UCSB has made more of a concerted effort to establish the running game in recent weeks. The Gauchos have 13 stolen bases in the past 10 games after swiping just four bags over their first 12 games. Colton Burns, JJ Muno, and Tommy Jew co-lead the team with four stolen bases apiece, with Jew going a perfect 4-4 on the basepaths so far in his redshirt freshman season.