No. 25 UCSB Set to Host CSUN This Weekend

Jordan Sprinkle (Photo by Jeff Liang)
Jordan Sprinkle (Photo by Jeff Liang)

The Schedule
CSUN
Friday, April 9 at 5:00 PM at Caesar Uyesaka Stadium in Santa Barbara, Calif.
Saturday, April 10 at 1:00 PM at Caesar Uyesaka Stadium in Santa Barbara, Calif.
Saturday, April 10 at TBA (Game 2 of DH) at Caesar Uyesaka Stadium in Santa Barbara, Calif.
Sunday, April 11 at 1:00 PM at Caesar Uyesaka Stadium in Santa Barbara, Calif.

The Series
CSUN comes into the weekend with a 5-7 record after splitting last week's series with first-place UC Irvine. The Matadors did not compete in any non-conference games this season. The all-time record between the two teams currently stands 86-62-3 in favor of UCSB.

Gauchos on the Air
All four contests will be hosted live on BigWest.TV with coverage from the voice of the Gauchos, Gerry Fall, and former head coach Bob Brontsema. Additionally, assistant director of baseball operations, Kevin Cannon, and assistant director of analytics, Spencer Stewart, will be on the call for an audio-only broadcast on UCSBGauchos.com. A live stats-feed can also be found there.

Current Rankings
UCSB is currently ranked No. 25 by the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association and the Gauchos have been ranked within the top 30 of at least one of the five major polls seven different times in the first eight weeks of the season.

Big West Standings (Conference Winning Percentage)

1 UC Irvine (10-2, .833)

2 UC Santa Barbara (9-3, .750)

3 Cal State Bakersfield (3-1, .750)

4 Cal State Fullerton (5-3, .625)

5 Long Beach State (6-6, .500)

6 Cal Poly (4-4, .500)

7 UC San Diego (4-4, .500)

8 Hawai'i (4-8, .333)

9 UC Riverside (4-8, .333)

10 UC Davis (2-10, .167) 

Current Streaks
Zach Rodriguez – 15 game hit streak, has reached base in 17 straight games
Marcos Castanon – 11 game hit streak
Jordan Sprinkle – Nine-game hit streak
Bryce Willits – Has reached base in eight straight games

McGreevy Named Big West Pitcher of the Week
A stellar performance on the mound in the Hawai'i series earned Michael McGreevy the Big West Pitcher of the Week award. He becomes the fifth different Gaucho to bring home a weekly honor this season and it is the sixth award the team has tallied.

On April 2, McGreevy took the bump in the series opener on the island at Hawai'i and single-handedly shut the Rainbow Warriors down tossing a complete-game shutout. He only allowed three hits, not walking a single batter, as the Gauchos took the game 3-0. His 10 strikeouts tie a career-high, which he set just two weeks prior.

After allowing a single in the first, the sophomore righty retired the next eight UH batters in order and only allowed two more singles in the rest of the contest. He faced just 29 batters and retired the final nine Rainbow Warriors to end the game.

Cole is Crushing
Third baseman Cole Cummings has been the face of consistency for the Gauchos this year having reached base safely in the first 25 games of the season. He currently leads the conference with 38 hits and is tied for the lead with 28 runs scored. He is also third with eight doubles and 54 total bases.

Freshman on Fire
Leading the No. 25 team in the country in batting average this season in none other than freshman outfielder Zach Rodriguez, whose .419 clip is good for fourth in the conference. The young Gaucho also ranks fourth in slugging at .635 and is currently riding a 15-game hit streak as the new mainstay of the starting lineup. 

The Rotation
UCSB's starting rotation of Michael McGreevy, Rodney Boone, and Cory Lewis have been huge for the Gauchos this year. As a unit, they have only allowed 17 total earned runs in 19 starts. Boone currently leads the conference with a 1.86 ERA, a .153 batting average, and five wins. His wins also rank fourth in the country. Lewis follows just behind in third with a 2.20 ERA, while McGreevy ranks fifth with 2.42 and a conference-best 51 strikeouts. McGreevy also ranks 12th in the country with a 10.20 strikeout-to-walk ratio.

The Gauchos lead the Big West with 266 strikeouts, 18 wins, eight saves, and an opposing batting average of .230. They are second with a 3.61 ERA.

Big Bats
The Gauchos have been getting it done at the plate this season leading the Big West in several major offensive categories. This includes hits (259), home runs (22), slugging percentage (.456), stolen bases (37), and total bases (396). They are also second in the league with 10 triples and 179 runs scored. 

No. 300
Head coach Andrew Checketts earned his 300th career win in the team's 11-4 win over Cal State Fullerton on Saturday, March 20, 2021. He became the fourth Gaucho head coach to reach the milestone and still stands as the coach with the highest winning percentage in program history with a 308-188-4 record for a .618 mark.

Another One
Another week, another award for Rodney Boone. The sophomore southpaw earned his third career Big West Pitcher of the Week honor on March 29. He becomes the first repeat winner this season after earning the nod on March 1 as well. 

Boone helped the Gauchos to a seven-inning run-rule win over UC Davis this past weekend, tossing a complete game shutout. He allowed just two hits and a walk while striking out six.

Pair of Games to Be Televised on ESPNU
UCSB will have two of its upcoming games broadcasted live on ESPNU.

The first will come on the road at Blair Field when the Gauchos head south to take on Long Beach State on Sunday, April 25. This will be the first time that UCSB has stepped foot on Bohl Diamond in nearly three years. First pitch for this series finale is set for 4:00 PM. 

The Gauchos will play host in their second featured game when they welcome UC Irvine to Caesar Uyesaka Stadium on Saturday, May 8. The Gauchos and Anteaters will have game two of their doubleheader aired to a national audience with a 7:00 PM first pitch.

Mortensen Named Big West Field Player of the Week
Broc Mortensen was named Big West Field Player of the Week, after an outstanding series vs Cal State Fullerton. He is the third different Gaucho to earn the honor so far this season. 

The junior transfer had his presence felt this past weekend as he competed in his first ever Big West series. Mortensen posted a .500 batting average with three home runs, three doubles, and nine RBI. He had eight total hits and touched home six times.

His biggest game came in the final matchup of the series when he went 3-for-4 with two homers, a double, five RBI, and three runs. All of the marks led the team.

If that wasn't enough, Mortensen came up clutch stepping to the plate with one on and one out in the top of the ninth blasting a homerun over the right field fence to send the game into extra innings.

This is the first Big West honor of his young Gaucho career. 

USF Series
The Gauchos' series with visiting USF could not have been predicted, as Friday's game one was suspended in the top of the fifth due to a lightning warning in sunny Santa Barbara. Play resumed the next day but it would take 15 innings for the Gauchos to find a 9-8 walk-off win. USF took leads in the 9th, the 11th, the 13th, and the 14th but never sealed the deal allowing Jason Willow to walk it off with a bases-loaded single.

Game two of the series was not played in nine innings either, but in seven with the Gauchos pummeling the Dons 15-3. The most 'normal' matchup came in the final game which was won 6-2 by UCSB.

The series was originally scheduled for four games, but one would have to be canceled due to the postponement of game one.

Boone and Castanon Sweep Weekly Big West Awards
Marcos Castanon and Rodney Boone swept the weekly Big West awards after helping the Gauchos to a perfect 4-0 weekend against Pepperdine. Castanon earned his first career Big West Field Player of the Week award, while Boone picked up his second Big West Pitcher of the Week award.

After seeing his fellow middle-infielder, McClain O'Connor, earn the title week one, Castanon decided it was only right to keep the crown at UCSB. The junior posted a team best .438 batting over the weekend and collected two home runs, six runs, and nine RBI. He had three multi-hit games and has had at least one hit in all seven games this year.

Boone was dominant in his start in game two of the Saturday doubleheader tossing six innings of hitless baseball. The lefty allowed just three walks, struck out six, and retired 11 of the first batters he faced. He currently leads the Big West with a 2-0 record, a 0.00 ERA, 15 strikeouts, and a .057 opposing batting average.

O'Connor Named Big West Field Player of the Week
McClain O'Connor earned his first career Big West Field Player of the Week award after a phenomenal outing in the season opening series against Santa Clara.

The senior shortstop posted a 4-for-9 performance with four runs, seven RBI, and a stolen base. Each of his four hits went for extra bases notching two doubles, a triple, and a 413 ft. home run, giving him a 1.222 slugging percentage. He also posted a .444 batting average with a .462 on-base percentage. 

He seemed to improve with every game collecting the doubles in game one, the triple in game two, and the homer in the final game.

He's BacK
After missing the 2020 season due to recovering from Tommy John surgery, closer Christopher Troye did not miss a step in his first return to the mound in 632 days. The righty was dominant striking out the side in the ninth inning of game three vs. Santa Clara to earn his first career save and hand the Gauchos the series the win.

He followed that up with a repeat appearance in the very next game striking out the ninth against Pepperdine to earn his second career save.

Big West Preseason Poll
On February 10, 2021, the No. 8 Gauchos were picked to win the 2021 Big West Conference title in the Big West Preseason Coaches Poll. This is the first time in program history that UCSB team has topped the poll, earning 10 total first place votes and a total 119 points. It breaks a 12-year streak that was held by Cal State Fullerton.

Preseason Rankings
The Gauchos have earned Top-25 preseason rankings from several media outlets prior to Opening Day, including the program's highest-ever at No. 8.

Collegiate Baseball - #8
Perfect Game - #10
D1Baseball - #11
USA Today - #13
National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association (NCBWA) - #14
College Baseball Nation - #17
Baseball America - #21

Run it Back
Because the NCAA allowed for all players on 2020 rosters to return for the 2021 season because of the COVID-19 cancellation, the Gauchos bring back nearly every player from a team that was 13-2 and coming off of a three-game road sweep of nationally ranked Oregon State. In addition, UCSB posted a win over No. 1 UCLA and was a perfect 5-0 against the Pac 12. The team will take an eight-game win streak into the start of 2021.

The 2020 Gauchos were led by a stellar pitching staff that sported a 1.84 team ERA, tied with Vanderbilt tops in the category on a national level. 

Torra Torches
Junior lefty Zach Torra garnered a pair of preseason All-American nods in the past few months from both Collegiate Baseball and the NCBWA. These preseason awards now go on a resume that already boasts a third-team All-American award from Collegiate Baseball at the end of last season.

Torra was spectacular in his first season at UCSB. He was 3-0 in his four starts, allowing just one run in 25.1 innings for a 0.36 ERA. In fact, in his 25.1 innings, the Santa Ynez, Calif., native allowed a mere 11 hits while striking out 39, an average of 13.86 per 9.0 innings of work. Torra recorded a 0.79 WHIP. His wins came against Abilene Christian (6.0 IP, 2 hits, 1 run, 1 earned run, 13 strikeouts, 2 walks), Illinois-Chicago (7.0 IP, 2 hits, 0 runs, 12 strikeouts, 2 walks) and at Oregon State (6.1 IP, 4 hits, 0 runs, 7 strikeouts, 2 walks). His only non-decision came at Sacramento State (6.0 IP, 3 hits, 0 runs, 7 strikeouts, 3 walks).

Boone Earns Back-to-Back Preseason All-American Nods
For the second straight season, sophomore southpaw Rodney Boone has garnered preseason All-American status. This time it is Perfectgame.org that sees the Gaucho pitcher having yet another strong season listing him to the second team.

In 2020 Boone went 2-1 with a 2.53 ERA, recording 31 strikeouts in 21.1 innings. He still stands as reigning Big West Freshman of the Year after an incredible debut season in 2019 where he was named a Freshman All-American honors from Collegiate Baseball, Perfect Game and Baseball America.

McGreevy Named to USA Baseball's Golden Spikes Watch List
USA Baseball released its 55-player preseason Golden Spikes Award watch list on February 18, 2021, naming sophomore right-hander Michael McGreevy to its ranks. The Golden Spike award is given to the top amateur baseball player in the country each year. McGreevy is the first Gaucho to ever be named to the preseason list.

McGreevy, named a Freshman All-American in 2019, had a solid outing in 2020 leading the team with 27.1 innings pitched. He went 2-0 with a WHIP of 0.9523 and an ERA of 0.99 while striking out 26.

D1Baseball Preseason Power Rankings
Prior to Opening Day, D1Baseball listed several Gauchos in its preseason power rankings:

Top 150 Starting Pitchers
Michael McGreevy - #13
Zach Torra - #28
Rodney Boone - #54

Top 50 Relief Pitchers
Conner Roberts - #36
Christopher Troye - #39 

D1Baseball Postseason Prediction
D1Baseball showed even more praise for this year's Gaucho team in its Preseason Field of 64, which was announced on February 18, 2021. The source predicts that the Gauchos will host a 2021 NCAA Regional as the 11th seed, with San Diego State, Arizona State, and Kent State rounding out the competition. 

Sliding into Home
The Gauchos have a very favorable schedule this year that features 34 games held at Caesar Uyesaka Stadium. This includes two different eight-game stretches during both non-conference and Big West play. The Gauchos play 13 of their first 15 at home.