No. 17 UCSB Set for Home Series with UNLV

UCSB Baseball (Photo by Tony Mastres)
UCSB Baseball (Photo by Tony Mastres)

The Schedule
UNLV
Friday, March 13 at 5:30 p.m. at Caesar Uyesaka Stadium
Saturday, March 14 at 4:00 p.m. at Caesar Uyesaka Stadium
Sunday, March 15 at 1:00 p.m. at Caesar Uyesaka Stadium
All-time record vs. the Rebels: 17-31-1

Projected Starting Pitchers
Friday Game 1: LHP Rodney Boone vs RHP Ryan Hare
Saturday Game 2: LHP Zach Torra vs RHP Chase Maddux
Sunday Game 3: RHP Michael McGreevy vs LHP Josh Sharman

Gauchos on the Air
Live streams of all four games this week at Caesar Uyesaka Stadium will be available via BigWest.TV with Kevin Cannon and Bob Brontsema on the call for the Gauchos.

Current Streaks
Steele Ledford – 4 game hitting streak
Mason Eng – 4 game hitting streak
Team – 8 straight wins, 4 straight at home

Take a Seat
Pitching has been key in the team's hot start as the Gauchos lead the Big West in team ERA (1.84) opponent batting average (.172), runs allowed (33), and hits allowed (83). Their ERA mark is good for 3rd in country and they rank 2nd in hits allowed.

No. 17
After a perfect 4-0 outing last week, that saw the Gauchos top two Pac-12 opponents, has helped the team move up from No. 34 in the RPI to No. 17. Collegiate Baseball, which gave the Gauchos their first ranking last week at No. 30. has moved the team up to No. 26.

Down Goes No. 1
UCSB handed top ranked UCLA (No. 2 in RPI at the time) its first loss of the season Tuesday night at Caesar Uyesaka Stadium by a score of 8-5. Before that, no team had scored more than two runs on UCLA. Christian Kirtley had a great performance at the plate going 3-for-4 with a double, a run and an RBI, while junior Connor Roberts got it done defensively coming in to pitch four innings of two-hit baseball to pick up his third W.

The Gauchos are a perfect 5-0 against Pac-12 teams this season.

Conner Roberts Earns Pitcher of the Week
The junior righty earned his first career weekly honors nod on March 9th, after helping his team to a perfect 4-0 week with wins over No. 1 UCLA and No. 25 Oregon State.

The righty made three relief appearances tossing a combined 7.1 innings of three-hit shutout baseball, and picked up a pair of wins.

Four of those innings pitched came in Tuesday's matchup with the top-ranked Bruins from UCLA, who struggled to figure Roberts out. He would allow just two hits, while striking out four and picking up the win as the Gauchos handed the visiting Bruins their first loss of the season.

Roberts then made two appearances in the Oregon State series up in Corvallis, Ore. helping his team to a sweep over the 25th ranked Beavers. The first came in the series opener when he held the Beavers hitless through 2.2 innings. He then earned his second win of the week in the series finale as the pitcher in play when the Gauchos took a late lead.

Roberts is currently tied for the most wins in the NCAA with four.

The Staff
Many Gauchos that have graced the mound this season have found success, especially junior Zach Torra and sophomore Michael McGreevy. They are ranked first and second, respectively, in ERA in the Big West with Torra notching a 0.36 and Torra turning in a 0.99. Torra leads the conference in strikeouts (39) and is fourth in opponent batting average (.133). 

Five different UCSB pitchers in Rodney Boone (2nd), JD Callahan (3rd), Torra (4th), Connor Roberts (6th), and McGreevy (10th) currently rank top-ten in the Big West in opponent batting average.

The Man of Steele
Sophomore outfielder Steele Ledford etched his name into the Gaucho history books this past weekend notching a record tying three doubles in UCSB's 15-1 victory over UIC. He becomes the 10th Gaucho to accomplish the feat and is the first to do so since Robby Nesovic in 2014.

Torra Garners National Honors
On Monday, February 24th Collegiate Baseball released its weekly National Players of the Week award naming junior southpaw Zach Torra to its ranks. Torra earned the nod after a stunning performance just a few days prior where he fanned 13 Abilene Christian batters in six innings of work. He would earn his first NCAA win allowing just two hits and a run and came up just three short of the all-time single game strikeout record.

Down Goes Cal
UCSB is slated to face a trio of Pac-12 schools and the first matchup with Cal went in the Gauchos' favor 17-7 on Monday, February 17th. Despite trailing 6-2 early, UCSB fought and chipped away at the Golden Bear lead and behind an eight-run 5th inning was able to surmount the gap on the scoreboard. The team finished with three doubles, 16 hits, and 15 RBI.

Sliding into Home
The Gauchos have a very favorable schedule this year that features 31 games held at Caesar Uyesaka Stadium. This includes a seven-game home stint from March 10th, to March 22nd. In all the UCSB will play 12 of its 16 March matchups at home.

Let There Be Light
The February 17th home opener with the Golden Bears was the debut of the new stadium lights installed at Caesar Uyesaka Stadium this past summer, and the first ever night game hosted at UCSB. The Gauchos have scheduled a total of 23 night games this season on their home turf.

Big West Preseason Poll
Despite losing several key players to the MLB after a historical 2019 season, the Gauchos were still tabbed to finish in the top half of the conference in the 2020 Big West Conference Preseason Coaches Poll. UCSB came in at 4th place in the nine-team conference collecting 55 points and one first-place vote.

Collegiate Baseball Preseason Poll
UCSB came in as the 27th ranked team in the 2020 Collegiate Baseball's Fabulous 40 NCAA Division I Pre-Season Poll, announced in December of 2019. They trailed only 26th ranked Cal State Fullerton making the Gauchos the second-highest ranked Big West team.

Pitching Pair Garners Preseason All-American Status
Sophomore southpaw Rodney Boone and sophomore right-hander Michael McGreevy were named to the 2020 Preseason All-American Third Team by Collegiate Baseball, announced in December of 2019. 

Boone, the reigning Big West Freshman Pitcher of the Year, figures to be the ace of the staff as a sophomore following an exceptional debut campaign that saw the lefty go 8-0 in 14 starts with a 2.78 ERA as the Sunday starter. With 80 strikeouts in 81.0 innings pitched, the Orange, Calif. native held hitters to a .204 batting average and earned a host of postseason accolades. In addition to being a Second Team All-Big West selection, Boone was selected as a Freshman All-American by Collegiate Baseball, Perfect Game and Baseball America.

Following suit with a bevy of postseason accolades after a fantastic freshman campaign was sophomore McGreevy, who joins Boone as a Third Team Preseason All-American. The First Team All-Big West selection and Freshman All-American was one of the most reliable arms in the bullpen for UCSB, making a team-high 29 appearances while leading the Gauchos with a 1.94 ERA. Batters hit just .234 against him and he recorded 53 strikeouts in 60.1 innings pitched, picking up six saves along the way with a 5-1 record.