UCSB Battles the Highlanders in ESPN3-Televised Series

UCSB Battles the Highlanders in ESPN3-Televised Series

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• The Schedule
Friday, April 28 at 6:00 p.m. vs. UC Riverside (14-22, 2-10)
Saturday, April 29 at 6:00 p.m. vs. UC Riverside
Sunday, April 30 at 1:00 p.m. vs. UC Riverside
at the Riverside Sports Complex in Riverside, Calif.
All-time record vs. the Highlanders: 26-30
Record vs. UCR in Checketts era: 8-7
UCSB away record / UCR home record: 4-11 / 6-10
2016 series: UCR wins 2 of 3 at UCSB, May 26-28
UCSB Streak / Last 10:  Won 1 / 6-4
UCR Streak / Last 10:  Won 1 / 2-8
UCSB / UCR RPI: 108 / 136 (as of Apr. 26)

• Gauchos on the Small Screen
ESPN3 will televise the first two games of this weekend's series at UC Riverside, the second time this year that the Gauchos will appear on the ESPN family of networks. UCSBGauchos.com will carry live audio broadcasts of all three games, with Voice of the Gauchos Gerry Fall on play by play. Links to all broadcasts will be available on gameday through the UCSB baseball schedule page

• Projected Starting Pitchers
Friday: RHP Noah Davis (6-3, 4.57 ERA) vs. RHP Ryan Lillie (1-5, 4.61 ERA)
Saturday: LHP Kyle Nelson (5-3, 3.84 ERA) vs. RHP Alex Fagalde (5-3, 3.46 ERA)
Sunday: RHP Chris Clements (1-5, 6.56 ERA) vs. TBA

• The Week in Review
UCSB took its bye week from Big West play last weekend, hosting SDSU for a three game series, with the Aztecs taking two of three. The Gauchos rebounded with a 6-4 midweek win over CSU Bakersfield. SDSU rapped out 14 hits in Friday's 5-3 win, then UCSB evened the series with a 6-5 win Saturday despite blowing a 5-0 lead. A standout effort from the Gaucho bullpen wasn't enough in Sunday's rubber match loss, as SDSU went ahead with a two-run sixth before shutting out the Gauchos the rest of the way. The Gauchos were down 4-0 to the Roadrunners on Tuesday, but bounced back and went ahead on a seventh inning Austin Bush solo homer. Chris Lincoln earned his first career win with 3 1/3 shutout innings of relief.

• .300 Club
Heading into the weekend, UCSB boasts five lineup regulars (Burns, Corey, Smith, Jew, Fredrick) who are hitting over .300. Only Cal State Fullerton, with four, has more than three such players.

• Bullpen Stepping Up
Though the pen has had its ups and downs over the course of the season, the team's relief corps has really stepped up its game lately, pitching at its collective best over the past two weeks. The Gaucho bullpen is currently riding a season-high 11 1/3 inning scoreless streak and has a combined 1.06 ERA over the last six games, a span in which they've gone unscored upon five times. Shea Barry especially (9 2/3 IP scoreless streak, three saves since Apr. 18) has impressed since moving to the closer's role.

• Checketts on the Cusp of A Milestone
UCSB head coach Andrew Checketts enters the weekend needing just two victories to reach his 200th career win. Checketts will become the fourth Gaucho coach ever to reach that milestone, and he will narrowly miss being the quickest UCSB bench boss to accomplish the feat (Checketts enter the weekend with 328 career games as coach, Al Ferrer needed a UCSB-record 328 games to reach his 200th win).

• Offense Turning It On
A huge uptick in production is the key reason that UCSB has gone 6-3 since Apr. 11, the team's best nine-game stretch this season.The Gauchos have racked up 61 runs in that stretch, an average of 6.8 per game. After ranking middle of the pack or lower in most major offensive categories up through the end of March, UCSB has climbed the ladder and now leads the Big West with a .412 team slugging percentage and is second with a .277 team batting average. Seven of UCSB's nine position player starters are slugging over .400, led by Sam Cohen's .529 clip.

• Peeved by the Plex
UCSB will be looking to buck history this weekend at The Plex, as the Gauchos have lost six of their last seven series at that facility. The 2013 UCSB team is the only team in school history to pull out a series win at The Plex (UCR joined Division I in 2001).

• Riverside Connections
The Gauchos are full of UCR and Inland Empire connections. Both Checketts (2002-07) and UCSB assistant coach Eddie Cornejo (2010-11) are former assistants in the Highlander program. UCSB's roster boasts Riverside County natives Clay Fisher (La Quinta), Kyle Plantier (Temecula), and Chris Lincoln (Moreno Valley).

• 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 games 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.