San Diego Toreros (29-16-1, WCC 15-9) at UC Irvine Anteaters
Cicerone Field at Anteater Ballpark (3,408) - Irvine, Calif.
UC Irvine Anteaters vs. Hawai'i Rainbow Warriors (25-17, Big West 7-8)
Les Murakami Stadium (4,312) - Honolulu, Hawai'i
* - Probable starters
LAST WEEK RECAP
+ The Anteaters continued to trend upward over the last week. Despite one win in four games, the pitching came through, and all three losses came by one run.
+ Tuesday night at Bakersfield saw the 'Eaters lead early and lose the lead on a pair of two-run doubles. Keston Hiura homered to draw them to within one, but CSUB held on for the 5-4 win.
+ UCI led early on CSUN Friday night building up a 5-1 lead entering the eighth. The Matadors scored four unearned runs in the eighth to tie it, and CSUN would finish the comeback in the 10th to win the opener, 6-5
+ The 'Eaters made a comeback effort on Saturday after a tiebreaking run put CSUN up 4-3 in the eighth. UCI scored five times with one hit in the bottom half to even the series, 8-4.
+ Sunday's finale whizzed by at a record pace of one hour and 55 minutes. Cole Spear and Samuel Myers each dueled for eight innings, and CSUN squeaked across the winning run on an eighth-inning passed ball for the 2-1 series victory.
WHO SHOWED OUT
+ The pitching has turned it around dropping its ERA for a second straight week after posting a 2.75 ERA against CSUB and CSUN. The team ERA of 4.08 in Big West play ranks third.
+ All three starters in the CSUN series posted quality starts including Cole Spear with a strong eight-inning effort on Sunday for his first quality start and a career high in innings and pitches at 103. Spear did all this coming off 4.1 innings in a Tuesday night start where he allowed two earned runs and did not issue a walk.
+ Louis Raymond lowered his ERA to a respectable 3.65 on the season after giving up five unearned runs to CSUN. He's gone at least 7.2 IP in his last three Big West games while his 2.43 Big West ERA ranks him sixth.
+ Jordan Bocko kept UCI in it on Saturday with three earned over six innings en route to the only win over the weekend.
+ Andre Pallante found a way to score his fifth win of the season on Saturday making him the team leader, and he now falls among the top 10 in the conference. His 42 strikeouts are tied for the team high.
+ The big bat this week was Ryan Fitzpatrick continuing on the heels of his monster game at Fullerton. The junior had two hits and an RBI at Bakersfield, put up a two-run double in Friday night's loss, and was all the offense Sunday with a solo HR and missing a second blast by feet that would have tied the game. Fitzpatrick has seven hits in his last four games including three multi-hit games, four for extra bases, and has driven in nine RBI.
+ Keston Hiura again did the best in his designated hitter role. A week after he reached 15 times in 22 plate appearances, he reached 13 times in 17 plate appearances including going 11 straight at one point and 10-for-10 between Friday and Saturday. His 43 walks on the season leads the conference and ranks fifth nationally. He's started to creep up the Anteater record books now tied for 10th all-time with 85 over his career, and nine walks behind single-season leader Brady Anderson who had 52. He also remains the nation's on-base-percentage leader at .558, and has now added nation's top hitter to his checklist hitting .416.
+ A week after the third-longest game in program history, UCI played one of its shortest game ever with a 1:55 duration in Sunday's 2-1 loss. There were 210 combined pitches thrown in Sunday's game, less than the 239 pitches UCI pitchers alone threw in the 14-inning game against Cal State Fullerton. Only six other games have ended quick than Sunday's, and only three quicker home games. The Anteater record was a 1-hour, 48-minute game in a 1-0 loss at Cal Poly May 10, 2014. The quickest home game stands at 1:49 which happened March 21, 2014 and March 27, 2015 both in 2-0 wins.
GREATEST AMERICAN HIURA
+ Keston Hiura leads the nation in batting (.416) and on-base percentage (.558), fifth in walks (43), and 16th in slugging (.701) along with conference lead in walks, doubles (18), and total bases (108).
+ Hiura earned the spotlight early on being named to five Preseason All-American lists from publications such as Baseball American, the National Collegiate Baseball Writer's Association, D1Baseball.com, Collegiate Baseball News, and Perfect Game USA. He received Preseason All-American status by three publications heading into his sophomore season.
+ Hiura's most recent accolade was a return to the Golden Spikes Award Midseason Watch List as the only Big West member of list of 40 players marking the second straight year he's appeared on both the midseason and preseason lists.
+ He spent the summer with the U.S. Collegiate National Team on their global trip to play national teams in Taiwan, Japan, and Cuba. Hiura hit .289 hitting three homers and driving in six including a go-ahead HR in Cuba to give the team its first-ever series win at Cuba.
+ In 154 career games, Hiura has failed to reach base in just nine while producing 212 hits, 48 doubles, 22 HR, and 127 RBIs. He recently became the 23rd Anteater all-time to drive in 100 career RBI, the 15th Anteater all-time to record 200 hits, is second in program history in HR, hitting, and slugging, and stands four doubles from matching Jeff Cusick's program record of 52.
+ Hiura was named Big West Freshman Field Player of the Year, a first for the program, and made the All-West Region team, the third straight season an Anteater made it, following a 2015 campaign where he landed near the top of many Anteater freshman records including second in doubles (18), hits (75), and at-bats (227) while setting new marks with seven home runs and 52 RBIs.
+ Keston Hiura's arm issues have drawn the interest of many in the college and professional ranks alike. Baseball America's John Manuel wrote of it prior to the season, and Aaron Fitt touched on it early this season about Hiura's offseason dealing with a partial tear in his elbow. Hiura was completely shut down for a majority of it, and underwent platelet-rich plasma (PRP) treatment in January to aid in the recovery. He has continued to take ground balls in the infield and fly balls in the outfield in batting practice, but does not have any plans to play the field in a game remaining the team's DH.
+ Mikey Duarte was held out of the last two games with stiffness in his neck. He hurt it Sunday at Cal State Fullerton in a collision with first baseman Timmy Richards legging out an infield single.
+ Cameron Bishop has yet to play in 2017 with an oblique issue.
+ Matt Reitano will be out for an extended period of time after reinjuring his knee in Tuesday's win at USC, an injury that kept him out for most of the fall and winter. His teammate at the backstop Griffin Mazur is officially done for the year after having surgery on his foot. He is also slated to return over the summer.
SAN DIEGO TOREROS
USD is once again having an above average season, but can't quite seem to put a streak together in conference play now with three straight series losses to BYU, LMU, and Saint Mary's. The 'Eaters and Toreros got together two weeks ago at USD to the tune of an 8-7 Anteater victory. Ten UCI batters were walked in that game that was broken open with a five-run Anteater sixth. Calvin Faucher gave up two runs in the ninth and allowed the tying run to third, but got a game-ending strikeout in a 3:56 game.
USD is one of the deeper offensive teams in the nation behind Roman Garcia with 12 HRs, three vs. UCI, and his 46 RBI, and paired with 11 Riley Adams HRs. The pitching has also struck out the 10th-most hitters per nine innings in the nation if it can get around the 4.4 walks per game.
HAWAI'I RAINBOW WARRIORS
Hawai'i has enjoyed another solid season sitting with a 25-17 record and seven Big West wins. The Rainbow Warriors have a series win over Nevada, split with San Francisco, single wins over No. 6 North Carolina State and Indiana, sweeps over San Jose State and Sacred Heart, and a 2-0 mark at Minnesota.
UH started Big West play with a series loss at Cal Poly and series win at UC Riverside. Then a return home has spelled series losses to UC Davis and Cal State Fullerton with a series win at CSUN mixed in the middle. The Rainbow Warriors have enjoyed the luxury of playing 29 of its 42 games on the island, and it'll be the second year in a row it hosts the Anteaters after winning the first two in 2016 and losing the final game that featured a 10-run first inning from the 'Eaters.
The pitching is the strength for Hawai'I that features a 3.61 ERA, 35th in the nation, and WHIP (1.31) and strikeout-to-walk ratio (2.56) that both fall in the top 50 in the country. Brendan Hornung has been a big part of that with a 3.07 ERA and 76 strikeouts, third in the Big West, and the rest of the weekend rotation each sports ERAs under 4.00 as well including Jackson Rees who is 5-0 including a big win over Cal State Fullerton where he allowed one run in eight innings. The bullpen is mainly four pitchers between Casey Ryan, Matt Richardson, Colin Ashworth, and saves-leader Dylan Thomas who, as a team, have produced 12 saves.
The offense has stayed intact as well with seven players starting over 30 games led by Dylan Vchulek batting .331 and five triples from Josh Rojas who have each started all 41 for the 'Bows.