By: Trevor Kuss
The Big West is in full swing with only a few weekends left. All nine teams are in action with four conference match-ups taking the field and another team playing out of conference. Long Beach travels to Fullerton for a tough match-up, UC Davis travels south to Cal Poly, UC Santa Barbara hosts the Anteaters of Irvine and Riverside will be in Northridge. The lone out-of-conference game has the Pacific Tigers going north to take on the Red Hawks of Seattle University.
The match-up of the week:
Long Beach State @ Cal State Fullerton
Both teams have been playing solid baseball. The Titans swept the UC-Riverside last weekend in Riverside while the Dirtbags were swept in Tempe against Arizona State in an out-of-conference series last weekend. Long Beach State was able to handle Cal Poly in their last conference match-up the weekend before, but needed to have a better showing against ASU and need to win out and get some help if they have any shot at the postseason. Long Beach State didn’t shy away from tough out of conference opponents this season in Stanford, Oregon State and ASU, and are at 8-7 in the Big West and 24-22 overall.
The Titans are locked into a regional spot for the postseason but they could potentially host a regional if they finish strong against the Dirtbags this weekend and against the Cal-State Northridge in two weeks.
Titan to watch: Nick Ramirez
The Junior first-basemen was 5-for-14 last weekend versus the Highlanders, including his eighth home run of the year. Pulling double duty this year he has also racked up 12 saves while sporting a 0.93 ERA as the Titan closer. He has not had the dominant season that many thought he would but he has remained a dangerous hitter in the middle of the Titans’ order as well as a shut-down arm at the back of the bullpen
Dirtbag to watch: Mike Marjama
The junior college transfer from Sacramento City College has proven to be one of the top hitters for Long Beach this year. Marjama is hitting .311, good for second on the team, and leads the Dirtbags with 177 at-bats. He has spent most of the season either at catcher or at third base but his weekend could be in doubt as he recently injured his wrist sliding into second base. He has been cleared to play but it remains to be seen if he will get into the game and if so, how he will fair. If Marjama struggles or doesn’t play this weekend it could be difficult for the Dirtbags to keep up with the Titans.
Long Beach Probable Starters:
Friday: Andrew Gagnon (4-7, 2.73 ERA)
Saturday: Ryan Strufing (3-2, 3.92 ERA)
Fullerton Probably Starters
Friday: Noe Ramirez (7-2, 1.86 ERA)
Saturday: Tyler Pill (5-1, 2.45 ERA)
Sunday: Colin O’Connell (6-3, 2.85 ERA)
UC Irvine @ UC Santana Barbara
Irvine travels to Santa Barbara to take on a Gaucho team that has had an up and down season. They currently have a record of 21-21 overall but have a 15-5 record at home this year. The Anteaters are more or less locked into a post season spot but could cement a solid seeding if they finish off strong through the last of the Big West schedule. Matt Summers had a great weekend against Cal Poly, going eight innings, while only allowing six hits and one earned run en route to a career-high 10 strikeouts. He will look for a repeat performance this Friday against Santa Barbara. The Gauchos have had a mix of pitchers taking the mound for them. Only Greg Davis has been confirmed for the weekend but Matthew Vedo could prove to be a bright spot as the Junior transfer from Yuba College was Big West Pitcher of the Week for his performance against the Matadors last week, going all nine innings and not allowing an earned run while having a 9-to-1 strike out to walk ratio.
Irvine Probable Starters
Friday: Matt Summers (7-2, 2.06 ERA)
Saturday: Matt Whitehouse (3-0, 1.69 ERA)
Sunday: Crosby Slaught (5-1, 4.40 ERA)
UC Santa Barbara Probable Starters:
Friday: Greg Davis (4-4, 3.03 ERA)
UC Davis @ Cal Poly
The UC Davis Aggies have turned things on as of late but have a tough match-up this upcoming weekend as they will head down to San Luis Obispo to take on the Cal Poly Mustangs for a three game set. The Aggies have had solid pitching recently led by Scott Lyman, who has rebounded from a slow start. Normally a two-way player for UC Davis, Lyman is no longer part of the lineup on days he is toeing the rubber and he has made improvements since that change.
Cal Poly is no stranger to winning tough games as they were able to steal one against the Anteaters in Irvine last weekend and have proven to be a tough team to beat on their home field with a 16-7 record in San Luis Obispo. Steven Fischback was the star last week for the Mustangs as he went eight innings in the victory on Saturday and was able to hold the Anteaters to just three runs on nine hits.
UC Davis Probable Starters:
Friday: Scott Lyman (3-5, 4.81 ERA)
Saturday: Anthony Kupbens (5-5, 2.24 ERA)
Sunday: Dayne Quist (2-5, 5.09 ERA)
Cal Poly Probable Starters
Friday: Mason Radeke (7-2, 2.68 ERA)
Saturday: Steven Fischback (5-2, 3.63 ERA)
UC Riverside @ Cal State Northridge
Northridge will try to continue its winning ways. After struggling at the start of conference play they have turned things on as of late with a series win against Santa Barbara. They will be taking on a Riverside team that was swept by Fullerton last weekend and will be looking to stop the losing streak before it goes past four games. First year coach Matt Curtis has brought a lot of good to the Matador program but they clearly have more to work on. Drew Muren has been one of the more reliable bats for the Matadors hitting .302 on the year, good for second on the team.
Northridge Probable starters
Friday: Vincent Roberts (1-5, 4.11 ERA)
Saturday: Paul Tremlin (2-4, 4.35 ERA)
Sunday: Carlos Gonzalez Jr. (1-3, 6.35 ERA)
Friday: Matt Andriese (3-4, 2.47 ERA)
Saturday: Eddie Orozco (3-1, 2.47 ERA)
Sunday: Trevor Frank (2-3, 3.69 ERA)
Pacific @ Seattle
Pacific gets the week off of Big West play before continuing next week when they head back to Klein Family Field in Stockton.
Pacific Probable Starters:
Friday: John Prato Matthews (0-4, 15.34 ERA)
Saturday: Marcus Pointer (4-6, 5.93 ERA)
Sunday: Jake Hummel (4-3, 4.46 ERA)
Friday – RHP Brandon Kizer (6-4, 5.14 ERA)
Saturday – RHP Arlo Evasick (2-4, 6.47 ERA)
Sunday – TBA