The Big West announced the results of its Preseason Baseball Coaches’ Poll Friday, and UCSB has been picked to repeat as conference champions in 2023. The conference’s 11 head coaches picked the Gauchos to finish atop the Big West this season and elected UCSB’s Mike Gutierrez and Broc Mortensen to the Preseason All-Conference team.
The Gauchos have retained multiple key pieces from the team which finished 2022 with a 27-3 conference record, while also adding talent through the transfer portal and in the incoming class of freshmen. In addition to Gutierrez and Mortensen, who were both named to the All-Big West Second Team last season, UCSB returns all-conference honorees Ryan Gallagher, Matt Ager, Christian Kirtley, and John Newman, Jr. for a total of six All-Big West selections. Gallagher and Ager both earned Freshman All-American honors last season, and Gallagher was named Big West Freshman of the Year.
Also back this season after missing the 2022 campaign is Carter Benbrook, who was named a Preseason All-American by the National College Baseball Writers Association earlier this month. The crop of newcomers is headlined by freshman Tyler Bremner, whom D1Baseball picked as their Big West Preseason Freshman of the Year.
Following behind the Gauchos in the Preseason Poll in order are UC Irvine, Long Beach State, Cal Poly, Cal State Fullerton, Hawai’i, CSUN, UC San Diego, UC Davis, CSU Bakersfield, and UC Riverside. UCSB received eight first-place votes, with the Dirtbags, Titans, and Rainbow Warriors receiving a single first-place vote each.
UCSB’s first game of the season is only a week away, as they will open the 2023 campaign against Minnesota at the Sanderson Ford Classic in Surprise, Ariz. First pitch against the Golden Gophers is set for 4 p.m. Pacific Time.
Eric Boose writes about sports for UCSB.