Baseball readies for west coast swing

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- The Nittany Lions head to the Golden State for an eight-game west coast swing during spring break. Penn State will kick off the trip with a three-game series at Saint Mary's from Friday, March 7-9. The team will then have an off day on Monday before traveling to Fresno to face the Bulldogs in two midweek games on Tuesday and Wednesday. Penn State will then wrap up its California trip with three games against Santa Clara from Thursday, March 13-15.

ALL-TIME SERIES VS. SAINT MARY'S: The Blue and White holds a 2-0 record in the all-time series against the Gaels. Both wins came in the 1999 campaign, winning 8-6 in the first game and 14-9 in the second. Each of the two games was played in San Antonio, Texas.

SCOUTING THE GAELS: Saint Mary's has gotten off to a 5-7 start to the 2014 campaign. The Gaels fell to San Jose State in their latest game on Tuesday, March 4 by a final of 10-0. Santa Clara is just 1-3 since the calendar has turned to March, with the lone victory coming in a 2-0 win at San Diego State. Anthony Gonsolin leads the Gaels at the plate, sporting an average of .357 on a team-high 15 hits, six of which are for extra bases. Jacob Valdez and Ryan Brockett lead the pitching staff, both having ERAs 3.50 or under.

ALL-TIME SERIES VS. FRESNO STATE: The Bulldogs won the only meeting between Penn State and Fresno State. The two teams met in the Pepsi/Johnny Quik Classic in Fresno on March 3, 2003. The Bulldogs came away with a 7-2 victory.

SCOUTING THE BULLDOGS: Fresno State is one of the hottest teams in the country at the moment (as of March 4), winners of six-straight games, including a sweep of No. 18 Texas A&M. Against the Aggies, the Bulldogs recorded two shutouts and outscored Texas A&M 12-5 over the course of three games. Each of the Bulldogs' two losses have been by two runs or less. The offense is led by Taylor Ward, who is hitting .386 on the season and leads the team with 12 RBIs. On the mound FSU has three starters in Jordan Brink, Garrett Mundell and Tim Borst who have sub-2.00 ERAs.

ALL-TIME SERIES VS. SANTA CLARA: Penn State and Santa Clara will meet for the first time in both program's history on Thursday, March 13. The two teams will play three games over the final three games of the Nittany Lions' spring break trip.

SCOUTING THE BRONCOS: As of March 5, Santa Clara is 6-7 on the season and winners of one of its last four, due to playing some tough competition in the stretch. The Broncos were shutout by a ranke Cal Poly team in their most recent outing, losing by a score of 6-0. The last Bronco win came against Manhattan at the College Baseball Classic in Surprise, Ariz. by a final of 10-2. Santa Clara's best hitter as of Thursday is Greg Harsis, who is batting .375 on the season with five doubles, two home runs and seven RBIs. The Broncos' ace is Peter Hendron, who has an ERA of 1.31 in 20.2 innings pitched over three starts on the season. Hendron leads the team in wins with two.

SNYDER'S SENSATIONAL START: Senior outfielder Steve Snyder is leading the Big Ten in batting average through March 5 with a mark of .469. Snyder is coming off a remarkable weekend against Hofstra, where over the three game series the senior combined to go 9-for-12 at the plate. The outfielder recorded two four hit games in the series and has now posted three multi-hit performances this season. Snyder also carries a five-game hitting streak into the spring break trip.

COATES CRUISING ALONG: Dating back to the 2013 season, James Coates has reached base safely in 21 consecutive games. The sophomore has recorded hits in 19 of the 21 games during the streak, seven of which have been multi-hit performances. The outfielder failed to register a hit in the season opener at Gardner-Webb but drew two walks to keep the streak alive. Since then, Coates has recorded a hit in eight-straight games to push his average to .323 on the season.

SETTING THE TABLE: Through nine games, Penn State's leadoff hitter of the inning has reached base at a clip of .395, over .100 points higher than the opposition who have had their leadoff man on .269 percent of the time. Steve Snyder and James Coates are a huge reason for the team's success in this category, as the duo has combined to reach safely 13-of-25 times.

SKERPS ON AT THE PLATE: Junior Taylor Skerpon has been on fire at the plate ever since a rough opening day doubleheader performance. In his last seven games, the infielder has hit for an average of .417, picking up 10 hits over the stretch. The highlight of the last seven games came in his most recent outting, picking up a career-best four hits in the win over Hofstra on Sunday, March 2. Skerpon has an active hitting streak of eight games, the longest of his Nittany Lion career.

COACH SPEAK: The Penn State baseball coaching staff is very active on Twitter. Follow Head Coach Rob Cooper @16RobCooper, Assistant Coach Brian Anderson @BA_PSUBaseball, Assistant Coach Ross Oeder @lifesarush3 and Assistant Coach Blake Beemer @BTBeem24.

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Last Updated March 07, 2014