The UCSB baseball team (31-14, 15-6 Big West) will play in the national spotlight on Saturday, as that night’s game against Long Beach State (26-20, 10-11 Big West) will be broadcast on ESPNU, beginning at 7:30 p.m. Saturday will be the second game of a three-game set against the Dirtbags, and one of four games in as many days. After the Gauchos finish their series in Long Beach, they will return to Caesar Uyesaka Stadium Monday night to take on the Lancers of California Baptist (26-23, 13-11 WAC).
LAST TIME OUT
UCSB completed a season sweep of one of their most common foes on Tuesday night, defeating Loyola Marymount, 7-4, in the 146th all-time meeting between the Gauchos and Lions. Santa Barbara had taken the first half of the home-and-home series in Los Angeles, 13-6, back on March 13.
As Big West conference-mates and traditional California college baseball powerhouses, UCSB and Long Beach State have seen plenty of each other through the years — 185 meetings prior to this weekend, to be exact. The Gauchos have won 90 of those games, including each of the last four. Santa Barbara split the last series in Long Beach, winning the series finale in a 12-inning game which was also televised on ESPNU, then swept a three-game set in Santa Barbara last season.
Monday’s matchup against California Baptist may only be the fifth meeting between the two teams but it will also be their second game against each other in three weeks. The Lancers took their half of the home-and-home series, 6-4, in Riverside on May 2. CBU has now won the last two games in the all-time series, after Santa Barbara took the first two of a three-game set in 2019.
WHAT TO KNOW ABOUT THE GAUCHOS
UCSB has one of the most electric offenses in The Big West and one of the best pitching staffs in the country. The Gauchos come into the weekend with a 3.85 team ERA, which ranks seventh in all of Division I baseball and best on the West Coast. Now a member of the starting rotation, Hudson Barrett has the nation’s sixth-best ERA, 1.81, in his 49 2/3 innings of work. Matt Ager‘s 95 strikeouts are the ninth most by any Division I pitcher this season, some of the Gauchos’ conference-leading 465 strikeouts.
On the other side of the coin, Gaucho hitters have mashed more long balls than any team in the conference, with their 71 home runs ranking 47th in the country. Only one other team in The Big West has more than 50. Pairing their power with speed, the Gauchos are also The Big West’s most aggressive team on the basepaths, leading the conference in steals (62) and attempts (86). They have stolen seven bases on nine attempts in their last two games alone. In the power department, Jared Sundstrom’s 13 home runs and .722 slugging percentage lead both the team and conference. Sundstrom also leads the team in RBI with 38 and batting average, hitting .346.
SCOUTING THE DIRTBAGS
Long Beach State comes into the weekend at a low point, having lost six of their last ten games and three straight. The Dirtbags dropped the final two games of last weekend’s series to CSU Bakersfield, then fell to Loyola Marymount on Monday night, all at home. Despite their sub-.500 record in conference play this season, the Dirtbags have talent on their roster, owning the most Big West Pitcher and Player of the Week award winners this season (three of each). Two-time Pitcher of the Week Graham Osman was LBSU’s Friday guy until last weekend, when he moved to Saturday. Osman owns a 5-1 record and 4.14 ERA this season. Jonathon Long, one of three Dirtbags to earn Player of the Week honors, leads the team in batting average (.309) and home runs (12). Fellow Player of the Week winner Connor Burns is the only other Dirtbag with double-digit homers (10).
SCOUTING THE LANCERS
California Baptist will play a three-game series against Sacramento State at home before they come to Santa Barbara. The Lancers come into the weekend having won three of their last five games, including mid-week contests against UCSB and UC Riverside. The Lancers’ top three RBI guys each contributed in CBU’s win over the Gauchos on May 2. RBI leader Mitchel Simon (47 on the season) drove in one, with Dustin Garcia (43) and Josh Paino (30) each driving in two runs. Garrett Ostrander getting a hit in that game was no surprise, he leads the Lancers with a .366 batting average on the season.
The Gauchos will play their final home games of the season next weekend, welcoming Cal Poly to Caesar Uyesaka Stadium, May 19-21. First pitch times are set for 5:05 p.m. Friday, 4:05 p.m. Saturday, and 1:05 p.m. Sunday. Sunday afternoon will be UCSB’s Senior Day game.
Eric Boose is assistant director of athletic communications at UCSB.