UCSB Travels South For Big West Series at CSUN

Photo by Eric Isaacs
Photo by Eric Isaacs

Full release in PDF format

• The Schedule
Friday, April 7 at 3:00 p.m. vs. CSUN (14-16, 1-2 Big West)
Saturday, April 8 at 1:00 p.m. vs. CSUN
Sunday, April 9 at 1:00 p.m. vs. CSUN
at Matador Field in Northridge, Calif.
All-time record vs. the Matadors: 81-58-3
Record vs. CSUN in Checketts era: 11-4
UCSB away record / CSUN home record: 2-9 / 9-9
2016 series: UCSB sweeps series in Santa Barbara, Apr. 15-17
UCSB Streak / Last 10:  Lost 3 / 5-5
CSUN State Streak / Last 10:  Lost 2 / 2-8
UCSB / CSUN RPI: 143 / 196 (as of Apr. 5)

• Gauchos on the Air
All three of this weekend's UCSB baseball games will feature live audio broadcasts on UCSBGauchos.com. Voice of the Gauchos Gerry Fall will be on play-by-play duties alongside color commentator Kevin Cannon. Links to each broadcast can be found on the UCSB baseball schedule page. 

• Projected Starting Pitchers
Friday: RHP Noah Davis (5-2, 4.76 ERA) vs. RHP Tei Vanderford (3-3, 2.75 ERA)
Saturday: LHP Kyle Nelson (3-3, 3.49 ERA) vs. RHP Samuel Myers (2-3, 3.64 ERA)
Sunday: RHP Chris Clements (1-5, 5.46 ERA) vs. RHP Andrew Weston (3-1, 3.15 ERA)

• The Week in Review
UCSB lost two of three to Long Beach State in the first weekend of Big West play, taking the opener before dropping the final two contests of the three-game set. The Gauchos then came up on the short end of a midweek contest against Gonzaga on Monday, the last tilt in an 11-game homestand. Noah Davis shook off a pair of solo homers to lead UCSB to a narrow 3-2 win over the Dirtbags on Friday, with JJ Muno's RBI double into the left field corner plating the go-ahead and eventual game-winning run. LBSU scored in each of the final five innings on Saturday to take the victory, and the Gauchos produced just two runs in a rubber match loss on Sunday.

• Managing the Matadors
UCSB has had the upper hand against CSUN in the Checketts era, winning all five previous series with an 11-4 overall record. Last year's sweep by the Gauchos broke an odd trend, as in the previous four series UCSB had won every Friday and Saturday contest while CSUN had won every Sunday contest. The Matadors haven't beat the Gauchos in a series since 2011. UCSB enters the weekend with a five-game winning streak against CSUN.

• Smith Taking Advantage of His Opportunities
A starter in just two of the team's first nine games of the season, true freshman Armani Smith has been tearing the cover off the ball since becoming a lineup regular on Mar. 10. In the month of March alone, he had a team-high seven multi-game hits, slashed .413/.417/.557, and became the usual No. 3 hitter in the lineup. Against Long Beach State, Smith helped the Gauchos to a 3-2 Friday win by powering a solo homer to dead center field off reigning Big West Pitcher of the Year Darren McCaughan in the bottom of the sixth inning, his first career roundtripper.

• Huge Blow
UCSB starting shortstop Clay Fisher, a Preseason All-American and the No. 9 shortstop in D1Baseball's 2017 preseason positional power rankings, was lost for the year this week after undergoing season-ending surgery. JJ Muno has started all 12 games at short since Fisher went on the shelf, and he has afforded himself well in that time with a .300 batting average and five extra-base hits.

• Staff Pulling Its Weight
UCSB's middle-of-the-league pitching numbers have been skewed by a five-game stretch (four of which came at BYU's high-elevation Miller Field) in March that saw the team allow 50 runs. Discounting those five games, UCSB has put together a 3.44 team ERA which would rank in the top-50 nationally. The Gauchos have allowed three earned runs or fewer in five of their last seven games.

• Burns Setting The Table
College of the Canyons transfer Colton Burns has been an on-base machine in his first season for UCSB, ranking near the top of the Big West in a number of offensive categories. The second baseman leads the league in walks with 21, is second with a .478 on-base percentage, is third with a .362 batting average, and ranks fourth with 34 hits. He was a Big West Field Player of the Week nominee last week (6-17) and won the award on Feb. 27 after reaching base 16 times in 19 plate appearances in games against CSU Bakersfield and Tulane.

• Winner Winner
Though his numbers have been up and down, Friday starter Noah Davis has consistenly collected wins during his time at UCSB. This year, he co-leads the Big West with five victories (Alex Fagalde, UC Riverside) and has helped the Gauchos to a .714 winning percentage in series opening games. Dating back to last year, UCSB is 8-2 in his last 10 starts.

• Quality Control
After going 19 games to start the year without recording consecutive quality starts, UCSB starters have now notched a QS is six of the last seven games. The Gauchos are 7-3 this year when receiving a quality start.

• 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.