Quartet of Gauchos Earn All-Big West Honors

Quartet of Gauchos Earn All-Big West Honors

2018 All-Big West Baseball Team

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. – The UC Santa Barbara baseball team landed four student-athletes on the Big West All-Conference Team, announced by the league office on Wednesday afternoon.

Junior shortstop Clay Fisher and sophomore centerfielder Tommy Jew were both named to the First Team while senior right-hander Stevie Ledesma was named to the Second Team and junior catcher Thomas Rowan earned Honorable Mention.

Jew, the lone Gaucho to play in all 56 games, has now made 108 consecutive starts in centerfield dating back to last season and tied for team-high honors with a .312 batting average (68-for-218). The San Ramon, Calif. native led UCSB outright with 68 hits, 41 RBIs, 24 walks and an on-base percentage of .386 while ranking second on the team with five homeruns, 32 runs scored, 10 doubles and three triples. In conference play alone, Jew upped his average to .337, going 33-for-98 in 24 games. Three of his five homeruns came against Big West opponents, including a clutch, game-tying two-run blast in the bottom of the 11th inning of a 9-8 walk-off win over UC Riverside on Apr. 27. For his efforts during the UCR series, Jew was named Big West Field Player of the Week after going 9-for-15 (.600) with seven RBIs and six runs scored while slugging 1.067. He tallied 19 multi-hit games while recording at least one hit in 44 games and finished the season riding a season-best 15-game hitting streak. Defensively, Jew was flawless in the outfield, recording a perfect 1.000 fielding percentage with zero errors in 156 total chances.

Joining Jew on the First Team is Fisher, a 2016 All-Big West Honorable Mention selection and 2017 Preseason All-American, who bounced back with a strong 2018 campaign after undergoing season-ending Tommy John surgery last year. The La Quinta, Calif. native finished with a .294 batting average (65-for-221) while leading the team with 33 runs scored, 13 stolen bases and five triples. The slick-fielding shortstop also blasted three homeruns with 10 doubles and 34 RBIs, finishing fourth on the Gauchos with a .435 slugging percentage. Against the Big West, Fisher batted .283 (26-for-92) with two homeruns and upped his slugging percentage to .446. He had at least one hit in 38 out of 53 games played and tallied 20 multi-hit games. In a big 14-2 win over UC Riverside, Fisher went 4-for-4 with a season-high four runs scored and two RBIs.

Ledesma earned his first career all-conference recognition with a Second Team selection after emerging as one of the most reliable starters on the Gauchos' staff. After starting the year in the bullpen, the nearby Ventura, Calif. native and Santa Barbara City College transfer made his way into the starting rotation and tied for team-high honors with 11 starts. The senior right-hander tossed a team-high 78.1 innings while finishing with a 7-3 record and a 2.87 ERA, good for fourth best in the Big West. His 62 strikeouts also led UCSB while ranking eighth in the conference for an average of 7.12 K/9. On May 5, Ledesma needed just 96 pitches in a complete game shutout against CSUN, holding the Matadors to just six hits while striking out seven and walking none. It was the first complete game shutout for the Gauchos since Shane Beiber tossed a one-hitter against CSUN in 2016. Beiber will be making his MLB debut tomorrow with the Cleveland Indians. As a starter alone, Ledesma finished with a 2.50 ERA and a 7-2 record, with his seven wins also ranking fourth in the Big West.

Rounding out the honorees is junior catcher Rowan, who enjoyed a breakout season for his first career all-conference honor. The Santa Ynez, Calif. native, who had played in 35 games combined over the past two seasons, became the everyday backstop for the Gauchos and tied with Jew for team-high honors with a .312 batting average (44-for-141) to go along with four homeruns, 20 RBIs, and 19 runs scored. Rowan also led the team with 12 doubles and a .482 slugging percentage, good for ninth best in the Big West. During conference play, Rowan raked the ball to the tune of a .620 slugging percentage while hitting .366 (26-for-71) with three homeruns, nine doubles and 11 RBIs.

Junior outfielder Alex McKenna (.339 BA, 5 HR, 31 RBI, 51 R) from Cal Poly was named the Big West Field Player of the Year while the Pitcher of the Year was awarded to Cal State Fullerton's Colton Eastman (9-3, 2.26 ERA, 108 K's, 103.2 IP). Cal Poly junior catcher Nick Meyer (.984 PCT, 446 TC, 395 PO, 44 A, 9 RCS, .281 RCS%) was named the Defensive Player of the Year. Cal State Fullerton's Rick Vanderhook earned his fifth Big West Coach of the Year honors after leading the Titans to a 22nd league title. Freshman Field Player of the Year was awarded to UC Davis' shortstop Tanner Murray (.333 BA, 1 HR, 22 RBI, 27 R) and the Freshman Pitcher of the Year was awarded to UC Riverside's Cole Percival (5-4, 3.19 ERA, 63 K's, 87.1 IP).