Gauchos Host Fresno State Wednesday in Opening Day at Caesar Uyesaka Stadium

Tommy Jew (photo by Eric Isaacs)
Tommy Jew (photo by Eric Isaacs)

Full release in PDF format
Big West TV

• The Schedule
Wednesday, Feb. 21 at 2:00 p.m. PT vs. Fresno State (4-0)
at Caesar Uyesaka Stadium
All-time record vs. Bulldogs: 37-29
Record vs. FSU in Checketts era: 8-2 (won 5 straight)
UCSB home record / FSU away record (2017): 16-14 / 13-12
Last series: UCSB sweeps four-game series at home, Apr. 1-4, 2015
UCSB streak / last 10 – Lost 3 / 0-3
FSU streak / last 10 – Won 4 / 4-0

Friday, Feb.  23 at 6:00 p.m. PT vs. Mississippi State (0-3)
Saturday, Feb. 24 at 6:00 p.m. PT vs. Texas A&M-Corpus Christi (2-1)
Sunday, Feb. 25 at 1:00 p.m. PT vs. Nicholls State (1-3)
Kleberg Bank College Classic at Whataburger Field in Corpus Christi, Tex.

• The Week Ahead
The UCSB baseball team hosts Fresno State this Wednesday, Feb. 21, in its first home game of 2018. The Gauchos are 5-1 at Caesar Uyesaka Stadium on Opening Day under Andrew Checketts, and have won five straight after dropping Checketts' first game as head coach back in 2012. After Wednesday's rumble with the Bulldogs, UCSB flies to Corpus Christi to take place in the Kleberg Bank College Classic, featuring Mississippi State, Nicholls State, and host Texas A&M-Corpus Christi. 

• Projected Starting Pitchers
Wednesday: So. LHP Ben Brecht (4-2, 3.99 ERA in 2017) vs. Fr. LHP Nikoh Mitchell (N/A)

• Streaming Gauchos
UCSB Baseball fans will have a variety of options for following tomorrow's home opener. Gerry Fall and former head coach Bob Brontsema will be on the call for UCSB's live video stream, which will be available through UCSBGauchos.com and Big West TV. On the radio side, Kevin Cannon and FP Santangelo Jr. will provide an online radio broadcast, accessible through the UCSB Baseball schedulde page on UCSBGauchos.com. Last but not least, fans can follow a live stats page, also available on the baseball schedule page. 

• The Week in Review
UCSB had a rough start to the season last weekend at San Diego State, getting swept by the Aztecs. The Gauchos were outscored 24-10 in the series and lost an opening series for just the third time in Checketts' seven years. 

• Brecht Draws the Start vs. Bulldogs
Sophomore left-hander Ben Brecht will get the ball in Wednesday's home opener. The 6-7 southpaw out of Wilmette, Ill. was one of the biggest revelations on the 2017 squad, authoring a team-best 3.99 ERA (among those with 20+ IP) as the midweek starter. He was even better on his home field, logging a 2.95 ERA in six starts at home. A strike-thrower (team-low 1.99 walks per nine last year), Brecht allowed three earned but struck four in 1 1/3 innings of relief work in San Diego last weekend. 

• Fighting with Fresno State
UCSB has fared well in recent years against Fresno State, winning five straight including a four-game sweep at Caesar Uyesaka Stadium in 2015. The Gauchos' last loss to FSU came back in 2013. 

• Bright Spots in the Bullpen
A trio of right-handed relievers – including a pair of newcomers – made the most of their opportunities last weekend, combining to throw 6 1/3 scoreless innings with seven strikeouts. Leading that group is sophomore Chris Lincoln, who gave up just two hits and struck out four over a pair of appearances spanning 3 2/3 innings. In their collegiate debuts, freshman flamethrower Chris Troye (1 2/3 innings) and junior Luke Andrews (one inning) both held the Aztecs off the board.

• Offensive Standouts
Known for their gloves as much if not moreso than their prowess with the bat, redshirt juniors Clay Fisher and Thomas Rowan were the top offensive performers for the Gauchos at Tony Gwynn Stadium. Fisher – UCSB's star shortstop, limited to DH duty as he recovers from Tommy John surgery – had four base hits over the weekend and was the sole Gaucho to hit safely in every game. Rowan, making his outfield debut, drove in a career-high four in Sunday's series finale with a 2-4 performance. 

• Program on the Rise
Though the Gauchos recorded a sub-.500 record last season – the first losing season in Checketts' six years at the helm – observers around the country still recognize that UCSB Baseball is a program on the rise, evidenced by the team's three trips to the postseason, first-ever College World Series berth (2016), and first-ever Regional hosting appointment (2015) in the past five seasons. Because of that, national outlet D1Baseball pegged UCSB as the No. 38 program in the country, which is second-best in the Big West and fourth-best among California programs. 

• Rolling on the Recruit Trail
While UCSB has experienced a golden age of on-field success over the past five years, the program has done equally well on the recruiting trail. This past offseason, recruiting coordinator Eddie Cornejo, Checketts, and the rest of the coaching staff brought in the No. 19 recruit class (per Collegiate Baseball). The Gauchos were the only Big West program to appear in every major recruit class rankings. UCSB has put together a nationally-ranked recruiting class five of the past six seasons, and on three occasions had classes ranked in the top-20.