It’s been 33 years since UCSB last won a conference baseball championship. The magic number is one for the Gauchos to end that drought this week. With a nation-leading 44-7 record (26-1 at home) and a Big West–leading 18-3 ledger, they hold a three-game lead over Cal Poly (26-27, 15-6) and UC Irvine. They could break a couple of records in Thursday’s opening game: most wins against a Division 1 opponent (currently 44, tied with the 1986 team) and winning streak (currently at 13, matching a streak earlier this season). On paper, UCSB holds every advantage in the Blue-Green rivalry with the Mustangs: batting average (.304-.261), slugging average (.514-.335), runs (345-215), home runs (59-10), stolen bases (74-18), and earned-run average (3.37-4.57). Yet Poly managed to stay within striking distance of the Gauchos throughout the league campaign, and this series would have been much tighter if not for a two-game swing Sunday, when the Gauchos rallied to defeat Hawai‘i in 11 innings, 6-3, and Cal Poly lost to UC Riverside, 6-5.


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