Lions Open 2017 Today, Host #19 UC Santa Barbara
LMU will host #19 UC Santa Barbara on Thursday, Saturday and Sunday of this week.
Is picked to finish seventh in the WCC Preseason Coaches’ Poll ... is also picked seventh according to D1Baseball.com ... was scheduled to begin the year on the road, but rain forced the series from UCSB to LMU and moved the start date up to February 16 ... is 6-2 on Opening Day under ninth-year head coach Jason Gill ... is 6-2 in Opening Weekend series over that span (only losses against then-No. 7 UC Irvine in 2010 and #11 TCU in 2016) ... has played for the WCC Championship two of the last three years (losses to Pepperdine in 2014 and 2015) ... last earned a WCC Championship and NCAA berth in 2000.
IN 2016, LMU
Dropped 6 of its last 8 overall ... earned five All-WCC selections ... played just two extra-inning games (1-1) and just 21 home games (9-12) ... used 48 different batting lineups in 53 games ... began the year on the road for the first time since 2010 ... did not play a non-conference home weekend series ... was shut out seven times, including in consecutive games twice (2/20 - 2/21; 3/11 - 3/12) ... prior to 2016, LMU was last shut out in back-to-back games on February 9-10, 1985 ... managed four shutouts of its own ... scored a season-high 17 runs on 4/20 at CSU Bakersfield and followed that up with a 13-2 win on 4/25 in a Monday contest against Hawaii... drew 10 walks in the game vs. CSUB - the most since drawing 10 against Santa Clara on 4/22/06 ... six straight losses from 3/11 - 3/18 was the longest winless streak since dropping six straight from 2/18 - 3/1/14 ... averaged 2.17 runs per game and hit .202 over the losing streak ... played in front of a crowd of 1,037 in home opener on 2/23 vs. #21 USC - the largest home crowd since at least 1998.
The 2017 baseball season begins a day early for LMU and #19 UC Santa Barbara, as the two will clash on Thursday at Page Stadium ... the series was originally scheduled to begin on Friday in Santa Barbara, but rain in Southern California, teamed with LMU’s ability to play night games, has forced the location change ... the two team requested and were granted permission by the NCAA to begin the year a day early ... the Lions and Gauchos will play Thursday before taking Friday off with the expectation that rain will fall throughout the day ... the series will continue Saturday at 6 p.m. before concluding with a 1 p.m. game on Sunday ... should Saturday get rained out, the two teams will look to play a Sunday doubleheader with a tentative start time of 10 a.m. ... thanks to the new home series, LMU will play its first nine games of the year at Page ... the three-game series against UCSB will feature live stats at lmulions.com.
Was picked as a preseason All-West Coast Conference selection.
IT'S JUST A NUMBER
LMU is 32-42-1 against ranked-opponents under head coach Jason Gill over his nine years as head coach ... the Lions are also 7-10 in weekend series over that span ... LMU went 2-7 against ranked-foes in 2016 ... the Lions went 1-4-1 in 2015 against such teams, with the lone victory coming in the series finale at #20 Arkansas on 3/8 ... LMU’s best record under Gill against ranked-teams came in his first year (2009) when the Lions went 9-2.
GET OFF ON THE RIGHT PAW
The Lions have had a knack for coming out of the gates strong under head coach Jason Gill, going 6-2 on Opening Day during his tenure ... the Lions are 6-2 in Opening Weekend series over that span, with the only losses against then-No. 7 UC Irvine in 2010, and #11 TCU this year ... since 2000, LMU is 11-6 on Opening Day.
ABOUT #19 UCSB
UCSB enters the weekend series with LMU carrying a national ranking in every major preseason poll, including #19 according to Baseball America ... the Gauchos are picked to finish second in the always powerful Big West Conference after making a historic first-ever run to the College World Series in 2016 ...during that run, UCSB knocked off the No. 2 and No. 3 national seeds ... UCSB checked off a litany of program firsts en route to Omaha, winning its first-ever Regional, first Super Regional, and setting a new school record with 43 wins against Division I opponents ... the blue-and-gold will be led in 2017 by junior southpaw Kyle Nelson and junior shortstop Clay Fisher, who each earned Preseason All-America honors from various publications ... other key returners include first baseman Austin Bush, catchers Dempsey Grover and Sam Cohen, third baseman JJ Muno, and weekend starters Noah Davis and Joe Record ... that strong stable of returners will be augmented by an incoming recruiting class that was ranked No. 9 in the nation by Collegiate Baseball, the highest in program history ... Andrew Checketts is in his sixth season at the helm of the program ... his teams have gone 180-107-3 over his first five years.
LMU was picked to finish seventh in the competitive West Coast Conference after a polling all 10 of the head coaches during the preseason ... San Diego, which received five of nine possible first-place votes, topped the conference poll, earning 77 points, while Gonzaga (three) and the Pepperdine (two) both earned at least one first-place vote.
THROW STRIKES AND PLAY CATCH
LMU has played well on the defensive side of the ball throughout Jason Gill’s tenure, with last year serving as no exception ... LMU’s pitching staff walked just 151 batters last year - third best in LMU history ... three of the top-five single-season walks-per-game marks also came in 2016, as Blake Redman set a new LMU record (.98), followed by J.D. Busfield at #2 (1.02) and Brenton Arriaga at #5 (1.59) ... behind the pitchers, LMU’s defenders recorded the second-fewest errors in LMU history (55) and second-best fielding percentage (.973) ... overall, Gill has seen his pitchers record the three lowest team walks marks in LMU history, claim all but two of the individual top-10 single-season walks-per-game marks, earn the top-two, and three of the top-five, best ERA marks, and has seen his defense register the top-three, and five of the top-six, fielding percentages.
ALL CONFERENCE RETURNERS
LMU returns two players who received All-WCC recognition at the end of the 2016 season, including senior Phil Caulfield (first team) and sophomore Niko Decolati (All-Freshman) ... Caulfield, who hit .309 overall in 2016, caught fire in WCC play, hitting .379 with 17 runs scored, two doubles, two triples and 14 RBI in 25 games played against conference foes ... the native of Burlingame, Calif. swiped four of his eight total stolen bases in WCC play, while also hitting safely in 11 of his final 12 WCC contests ... overall on the year, Caulfied appeared in 47 games (40 starts) and finished second on the team in average, scored 27 runs, drew nine walks and six hit-by-pitches, and stole eight bases ... Decolati turned in a stellar freshman campaign, batting .306 with 20 runs scored, six doubles, two triples, four homers and 33 RBI over 47 games played and 40 starts ... the native of Las Vegas, Nev. batted .293 with nine runs scored, four doubles, a homer and 11 RBI against conference foes.
@LMLIONSBASEBALL ON TWITTER
For fans, scouts, parents and players who are interested in following LMU baseball even closer this year, LMU baseball is tweeting under the handle @LMLionsBaseball ... to get the inside look at LMU baseball from the coaching perspective, make sure to follow @LMLionsBaseball on Twitter.
TICKET PACKAGES ON SALE
Season ticket packages for the 2017 season are now on sale, with plans starting at $40 for a General Admission season ticket, while Reserved Chair Back season tickets can be purchased for $80 ... members of LMU’s Little Lions Club also get into all LMU home baseball games as part of the membership ... each season ticket purchased comes with a commemorative LMU Scarf, and Reserved Chair Back season tickets also include a nameplate on your chair identifying your seat(s) ... students, faculty and staff with a valid One Card also receive free General Admission access to every home game ... to purchase Reserved Chair Back season tickets, please contact the LMU Box Office at 310-338-5466 ... to purchase General Admission season tickets or single-game tickets, please visit LMULions.com/tickets.
FOLLOW IT LIVE ONLINE
While the impromptu home series against #19 UCSB will not be live streamed, LMU Athletics will video stream all remaining home baseball games this year through the LMU Sports Network and theW.tv ... the video stream is free of charge, and will be accompanied by an audio play-by-play broadcast ... all road games will once again feature an audio play-by-play broadcast ... to watch any and all home games this year, and to listen to the audio on the road, please check the LMU baseball schedule.
THERE'S NO PLACE LIKE HOME
In its 35th season as the home of Lion baseball in 2017, George C. Page Stadium also enters its fourth year under the lights ... the 2017 LMU baseball schedule features 27 home games ... LMU went 9-12 at home last year ... the Lions, who have posted a 543-410-4 (.569) overall record in the park’s 34 seasons, have claimed five conference titles while calling Page Stadium home ... the first Page Stadium conference title came in 1986, when the Lions posted a 24-8 record at home ... the best record came in 1988, when LMU was 30-5 at home (.857) ... LMU’s historic first game in Page Stadium was played on March 19, 1983, with a 5-1 loss to Cal State Fullerton ... one of the staples of the venue, the Mikos Blue Monster in left field stands 130-feet wide and 37-feet tall.
JOURNEY TO THE TOURNEY
For the fifth consecutive year, the West Coast Conference will hold a WCC Championship Tournament at Banner Island Ballpark in Stockton, Calif. from May 25-27 to decide who will claim the WCC’s automatic bid into the NCAA Tournament ... the top-four teams will compete in the tournament, with the #1 seed facing #4 and #2 facing #3 in first-round play ... the tournament is double elimination throughout, with the winner of the tournament earning the WCC’s automatic bid ... LMU has played for the WCC Championship in two of the last three years (losses to Pepperdine in 2014 and 2015).
Separated by 19.1 miles of scenic coastline, longtime cross-town adversaries Loyola Marymount and Pepperdine came together in an effort to boost their decades-long rivalry with the creation of the Pacific Coast Highway (PCH) Cup ... the series, which is in its eighth year, serves as an annual scorecard for the NCAA-sponsored athletic contests between the Lions and Waves, and challenges each institution to rise above the other within the West Coast Conference ... any head-to-head competition, including matches in the post-season and tournaments throughout the year, will be counted toward the scoring and added to the scorecard as they occur ... for the sports in which the two teams do not meet head-to-head, the teams will battle for points that will be awarded on the basis of overall finish at their respective post-season championships ... LMU currently leads the 2016-17 standings, 8-2.5 ... to learn more about the PCH Cup and view the current scorecard, please visit: lmulions.com/pchcup
PICK UP WHERE I LEFT OFF
Five Lion baseball players carry a hitting streak of at least one game from 2016 into the 2017 campaign, while eight carry over reached-base streaks ... Ted Boeke, Niko Decolati, Spencer Erdman, Joe Murray and Jamey Smart each got a hit in their final game of 2015, with Erdman carrying over a six-game streak.
LIONS IN PROFESSIONAL BASEBALL
LMU had one former baseball player on a Major League roster in 2016, as C.J. Wilson (Los Angeles Angels) spent his 12th year on the game’s biggest stage ... 12 former Lions played in the Minor Leagues in 2016, including Cassidy Brown, J.D. Busfield and Michael Silva, who finished LMU careers in 2016 ... the Lions have had more than 125 players drafted by Major League Baseball teams in program history, including 28 players in the last 10 years ... Billy Traber and Chris Donnels are the lone Lions to be selected in the first round, both selected by the Mets ... Traber went 16th overall in 2000, while Donnels was taken with the 24th pick in 1987 ... including Traber and Donnels, LMU has had 22 players selected in the first five rounds of a MLB draft ... LMU’s best draft came in 2000, as a Lion was taken in each of the first three rounds - Traber went in the first, followed by Michael Schultz in the second, and Scott Walter in the third ... for a list of current Lions playing in professional baseball, please visit: http://tinyurl.com/7taglqf
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