Fresh off capturing the Big West Championship the UCSB baseball team gathered for the NCAA selection show on Monday morning.
The Gauchos (45-9) discovered they will travel to Palo Alto for the Stanford regional where an opening game against Fresno State (38-14-1) awaits on Friday night at 7 p.m. Stanford (41-11) will open against Sacramento State (39-23).
“It looks like it’s going to be a competitive bracket,” said UCSB coach Andrew Checketts. “Four teams that have legitimate chances to win.”
The all-California regional will undoubtedly be fiercely contested as UCSB hopes to rekindle the magic that sent them to the 2016 College World Series.
Fresno State, the Mountain West Champions, will likely send out junior ace Ryan Jensen to the mound for Friday’s contest. Jensen boasts an 11-1 record with an ERA of 2.92.
“We traditionally have played them in a lot of midweek games so we have some experience with them and some history in terms of knowing their style of play,” Checketts said. “From that standpoint we do know a little bit about them, but we’ll have to dig in.”
Going into the final series of the season against Cal Poly many projections had the Gauchos hosting a regional, but two losses to open the series against the mediocre Mustangs appears to have been too much to overcome.
The Gauchos have posted mind boggling pitching and hitting statistics this season that suggest that they have the offensive fire power and arms to compete with top teams in the country, including a 3.21 team ERA and .299 team batting average.
“I like our chances. There are three other good teams there, but you’ve seen us play all year and I think we have a good chance to get out of there and go to Mississippi State,” said senior catcher Thomas Rowan, who has belted 13 of the Gauchos’ 66 homeruns this season. “Personally I’m going to try and make the most of it. This is the last college experience I’ll have so I’ll try and take in every moment and I know our team will be good enough to play at the next level.”