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Big West Weekend Preview (May 20th-22nd)

By: Trevor Kuss
There are four conference match-ups set for this weekend as the first place Fullerton Titans have their scheduled bye week. The second place Anteaters travel down to the Inland empire to take on the Highlanders of UC Riverside. The UC Davis Aggies will travel back to Davis to take on the visiting UC Santa Barbara Gauchos. The Mustangs will leave the friendly confines of Baggett Stadium in San Luis Obispo and travel up north to Stockton to take on the Pacific Tigers. After hosting Fullerton last weekend Long Beach will welcome Cal State Northridge to Blair Field.

Matchup of the Week: UC Irvine at UC Riverside

Sometimes the Anteaters can get lost in the shadows of the Titans from a national view point but despite this they are an amazingly talented team. The Anteaters were able to complete a sweep of the Gauchos last week behind solid pitching from their starters and an offense that is normally lead by their senior statesman, Brian Hernandez. The redshirt Senior leads the Anteaters with a .357 batting average and is second on the team with 40 runs scored. UC Riverside is coming off of a series win against Cal State Northridge and will be taking the field at home for the last time in 2011 this weekend. Riverside is tied with UC Davis and Long Beach State for 4th in the conference and looking to keep pace against the tough UC Irvine squad. The Highlander offense is lead by Trevor Hairgrove, with a .339 batting average to lead the team and second on the team with 15 doubles.

Anteater to watch:

Matt Summers- Junior- Starting Pitcher

The talent starts with talented junior starting pitcher Matt Summers. Summers has burst onto the scene this year as the Anteaters Friday night starter and has a tremendous 8-2 record and a 2.10 ERA. Summers has some out of obscurity, after finishing last year with a 8.51 ERA, good for worst on the team, while working mostly out of the bullpen. Summers third year with the Anteaters proved to be the charm as he has established himself as the Friday night starter and with great success there. If Summers can keep the Highlander offense in check on Friday it will set the tone for the weekend series in the favor of the Anteaters.

Highlander to watch:

The Andriese brothers:

David Andriese- Redshirt Freshman- Outfield
Matt Andriese- Junior- Starting Pitcher

The Redlands natives have proven to be two big bright spots for the Highlanders. The younger Andriese spends lots of his time at designated hitter but has still succeeded in his first collegiate season, hitting .313 while leading the Highlanders with 4 homeruns. He is still young and has some holes in his swing that need to be worked on, he has struck out a team leading 38 times in 44 games. He will be in the middle of the order for UC Riverside for the next couple of years and might be the kind of talent that could move onto the professional ranks after all is said and done at Riverside. Older brother Matthew Andriese will likely be leaving Riverside after this year as he came into the year with a high regard and professional aspirations with baseball and has not disappointed. The match-up between Summers and Andriese has a great chance of being an exciting pitchers duel. If Andriese can deal with the arduous task of keeping up with Summers while also keeping the Anteaters offense off the scoreboard the Highlanders are in store for a happy senior weekend.

Irvine probable starters

Friday: Matt Summers (8-2, 2.10 ERA)
Saturday: Matt Whitehouse (3-0, 2.30 ERA)
Sunday: Crosby Slaught (6-1, 4.08 ERA)

Riverside probable starters
Friday: Matt Andriese (4-4, 2.26 ERA)
Saturday: Eddie Orozco (4-1, 2.47 ERA)
Sunday: Trevor Frank (2-3, 3.63 ERA)

UC Santa Barbara at UC Davis

Both teams will look to snap losing streaks as the Gauchos come into the weekend after being swept by the Anteaters last week in Santa Barbara, while the Aggies were visiting the 3rd place Cal Poly Mustangs and were also swept and also had an out-of-conference midweek loss against the Golden Bears of UC Berkeley. The Aggies will look to start a new winning streak at Dobbins Baseball Complex as they had 5 in a row before the loss to the Bears, including a sweep of the Matadors during the last home series the Aggies had. The pitching and hitting for the UC Davis has struggled with consistency but have done better at home than away and have the Gauchos and Highlanders to finish out the Big West season. The Gauchos will have Greg Davis on Friday afternoon but the rest of their weekend rotation has been in flux for most of the year. Matthew Vedo shined against Northridge two weeks ago but struggled against the superior Irvine offense last week, despite that he will likely start Saturday and how he pitches will go a long way in determining if the Gauchos will be able to take the series in Davis.

Santa Barbara probable starters
Friday: Greg Davis (4-5, 3.84 ERA)
Saturday: Matthew Vedo ( 4-6, 5.40 ERA)
Sunday: TBA

Davis probable starters
Friday: Scott Lyman (3-5, 4.72 ERA)
Saturday: Anthony Kupbens (5-6, 2.45 ERA)
Sunday: Dayne Quist (2-6, 4.87 ERA)

Cal Poly at Pacific

The Mustangs swept the Aggies last week and have an extremely impressive 19-7 record while in San Luis Obispo, but are only 5-13 away from Baggett Stadium. With the game in Stockton the 15-32 Pacific Tigers have a chance at stealing at least a game or possibly even the series from the 3rd place Cal Poly. Steven Fischback has been masterful for the Mustangs as their Saturday starter this year. After missing 2 years recovering from labrum surgery the now senior righty is back on the mound and seeing great success, With a 3.45 ERA and a 6-2 record he looks to have put the injury behind him. Pacific had last week off from conference play but was swept by Seattle University. The Tigers haven’t had a series win since the second to last weekend in April when they took on the Matadors in Northridge. This weekend the Tigers will need strong pitching as they have a team ERA of 6.07 while opponents have a 4.10 ERA when pitching against the Tigers.

Cal Poly probable starters

Friday: Mason Radeke (8-2, 2.67 ERA)
Saturday: Steven Fischback (6-2, 3.45 ERA)
Sunday: TBA

Pacific probable starters
Friday: John Prato Matthews (0-4, 12.81 ERA)
Saturday: Marcus Pointer (4-6, 5.58 ERA)
Sunday: Jake Hummel (4-4, 4.27 ERA)

Cal State Northridge at Long Beach State

After getting swept by 1st place Fullerton this week Long Beach gets the much easier assignment of taking on last place Northridge. The Matadors were able to get 1 win last weekend against the Highlanders on Sunday but were put down 9-2 and 8-2 the other two games. Andrew Gagnon is going to need to be his best on Friday with Long Beach wants to come out with a series win. The other potential starters Ryan Strufing and Shawn Stuart, likely pitching Saturday and Sunday, have struggled with consistency on the mound, especially compared to Gagnon. Northridge will need the offense to be in full swing this weekend to keep up with the Long Beach bats. Led by Mike Marjama and Ino Patron the Dirtbag offense is young and only going to improve in time and can score runs in bunches when they get going.

Northridge probable starters

Friday: Vincent Roberts (1-6, 4.27 ERA)
Saturday: Paul Tremlin (2-5, 4.23 ERA)
Sunday: Carlos Gonzalez Jr. (1-3, 6.03 ERA)

Long Beach probable starters
Friday: Andrew Gagnon (4-8, 2.83 ERA)
Saturday: TBA
Sunday: TBA

Cal State Fullerton

The Titans get the week off, with the Big West being a 9 team conference each school gets a bye week. Most schools fill in the week with an out-of-conference game but the Titans didn’t. They will be back in action next week to finish off their season against now last place team CSU Northridge.