From the Wang Files: A Midseason Baseball Report
Just call us the UC Irvine Good Samaritans.
Every Big West team with a losing record has recorded a win against UCI thus far in the season. That’s not to say we’re not as competent as these below-.500 teams, it’s just that we like to make these teams think they stand a chance before dropping them to the bottom of the Big West pile.
Granted, sitting in fourth place in the Big West Conference is not where UCI planned on being. However, with the top three teams in the conference set to take each other on within the next three series, the conference standings are anything but confirmed.
Cal State Fullerton (10-1)
After taking the first two games from Cal Poly this last weekend, Fullerton sits pretty atop the Big West with a conference record of 10-1.
Fullerton has UC Riverside, UC Irvine and Long Beach State coming up in the next three weeks.
Key series: Long Beach State. Fullerton’s ability to be able to take out Long Beach State will determine whether or not they will be able to win the conference.
Long Beach State (9-2)
There’s nothing like watching cocky people get theirs. As UCSB’s Chris Malec hit a grand slam off Jered Weaver in last Friday’s game, one must wonder if Malec thrusted his pelvis and pounded his chest against Weaver just as Weaver did toward UCI after his win against us.
Long Beach State has done a good job turning sportsmanship to sportsmanshit, teaching young Dirtbag fans that it’s cool to have long scraggly blonde hair and that it’s OK for ballboys to attempt to take each other out on the field.
The Dirtbags have Pacific, Riverside and Fullerton coming up.
Key series: Fullerton.
UC Riverside (8-3)
Getting themselves out of a non-conference slump, Riverside has excelled in conference play so far.
Key series: Depends. If Long Beach State sweeps Fullerton or vice versa, Riverside can rise in the standings by not getting swept in any of the remaining series.
Cal Poly (5-6)
Cal Poly San Luis Obispo spent the non-conference portion of the season playing not-so-top-25 teams. The Mustangs took two of three against UC Riverside, then got swept by Long Beach State and then proceeded to sweep Pacific. In this last weekend series, Poly dropped two to Fullerton.
Key series: UCI. If Matador Field in Northridge is not the launching pad it was this last weekend (no strike zone and dry brittle weather makes a football score of a baseball game), Cal Poly should have no problems winning against Northridge.
UC Irvine (5-6)
The Anteaters have a strong strength of schedule ranking and a good track record against top-25 teams but hit a couple of bumps in conference play.
UCI took two of three from UCSB and Pacific, while getting swept by Long Beach State. They took a game from Northridge this last weekend. Pacific and Northridge are two sub-.500 teams that should have been swept but circumstances determined otherwise. UCI’s offense could only muster up a run in their Friday night loss against Pacific while starter Brett Smith gave up two. Northridge stopped their 0-9 conference skid with a three-run walk-off homer off UCI closer Blair Erickson in that Friday game to notch their first conference win (it was Erickson’s first blown save of the season