#21 UC Santa Barbara Baseball 2017 Preview

UC Santa Barbara Gauchos
Overall Rank: #21
Conference Rank: #3 Big West
UC Santa Barbara took the college baseball world by storm last season in the NCAA Tournament, starting with a dramatic 3-2, 14 inning win over Washington in the Nashville Regional. The Gauchos rode that momentum all the way to the Omaha for the programs first ever trip to the College World Series. Along the way UCSB knocked off number two national seed Louisville on its home field during Super Regionals and Sam Cohen‘s grand slam homerun in the bottom of the 9th inning to punch the Gauchos ticket to Omaha. There will be a little retooling for head coach Andrew Checketts in 2017, but make no mistake, this team is primed and ready for another potentially deep run in the NCAA Tournament if they can replace the lost productivity on the mound from Shane Bieber, who was lights out in the 2016 postseason.
2016: 43-20-1, 13-11
2016 Postseason: NCAA
Coach: Andrew Checketts
Key Departed Players:
Andrew Calica, OF, .252 BA, 4 HR, 25 RBI, 18 SB
Ryan Clark, IF, .268 BA, 1 HR, 15 RBI, 4 SB
Shane Bieber, P, 134.2 IP, 2.74 E.R.A., 16 BB, 109 SO
Key Returning Players:
Austin Bush, IF, .265 BA, 11 HR, 49 RBI
JJ Muno, IF, .294 BA, 5 HR, 31 RBI, 17 SB
Dempsey Grover, C, .273 BA, 2 HR, 29 RBI, 6 SB
Clay Fisher, IF, .285 BA, 1 HR, 24 RBI, 14 SB
Sam Cohen, C, 357 BA, 2 HR, 11 RBI
Josh Adams, OF, .229 BA, 4 HR, 27 RBI
Noah Davis, P, 82.2 IP, 4.46 E.R.A., 30 BB, 63 SO
Kyle Nelson, P, 74.1 IP, 2.18 E.R.A., 18 BB, 87 SO, 10 SV
Joe Record, P, 89.2 IP, 3.91 E.R.A., 38 BB, 63 SO
UCSB won’t overpower you offensively with the long ball, but they will find a way to get the job done when it counts. JJ Muno brings some power to the table. Muno hit five homeruns last season and can also get the job done on the basepaths where he stole 17 bases last season. Clay Fisher stole 14 bases in 2017 as well. Austin Bush is back and should be in position to surpass his 11 homerun and 49 runs batted in performance. Noah Davis and Joe Record will anchor the ever critical weekend rotation as they both will need to pick up the slack by eating up innings and having more command of their pitches by lowering the amount of walks by about 10 percent. Kyle Nelson is back in the closer role and he was electric in 2016, striking out 87 batters while walking only 18 in 74.1 innings of work. Nelson’s ability to lock games down should allow Coach Checketts to shorten the game to about a 6-7 inning affair on a fairly regular basis. UCSB won’t sneak up on anyone this season, but there is enough returning experience from last year’s team that they will be very tough in the Big West Conference and in the NCAA Tournament.
Projected Postseason: NCAA Baseball Tournament


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