Winning the Big West Conference for the first time since 1986 came with considerable spoils for the UCSB Baseball team.
Three Gauchos received top awards from the conference Wednesday including, Eric Yang, who was named Big West Conference Field Player of the Year, Rodney Boone, who took home Big West Conference Freshman Pitcher of the Year and Andrew Checketts, who was the recipient of Big West Coach of the year.
Yang hit .383 this season and posted an eye-popping .492 on-base percentage. The junior joined several of his teammates in making a huge jump in productivity in his third year on campus. In addition to his penchant for reaching base, Yang flashed considerable power at the plate this season with seven homeruns and 45 RBI’s.
Behind the plate, Yang caught ten runners stealing and finished the regular season with a .995 fielding percentage. He is the first UCSB player to be awarded Big West Conference Field Player of the Year since Cameron Newell shared the honor in 2015.
As for Boone, An 8-0 record and ERA of 2.78 earned him Freshman pitcher of the year. Boone’s most memorable outing came in the series finale against Cal Poly, in which he pitched 8.1 shutout innings to help the Gauchos clinch the Big West title.
The unprecedented success for UCSB this season wouldn’t have been possible without Checketts, who led UCSB to their first Big West Championship in 33 years and the second best win percentage in the country at .833. The 45 wins also ties a program record. UCSB led the Big West in batting average, on base percentage, runs scored, hits, doubles triples and home runs. This was Checketts’ first Big West Coach of the Year Award.
In addition to the major awards recipients the Gauchos had a league-high seven players on the Big West All Conference first team. Those players include, Yang, Andrew Martinez, Thomas Rowan, Tommy Jew, Armani Smith, Jack Dashwood and Michael McGreevy.
Boone, Ben Brecht and Chris Lincoln were named to the second team while McClain O’Connor and Jason Willow were honorable mentions.
UCSB will face off against Fresno State to open NCAA Tournament play on Friday night at Standord’s Sunken Diamond beginning at 7 p.m.