Broc Mortensen
UCSB's Broc Mortensen was picked to the Big West Preseason Team. The Gauchos are favored to repeat as conference champion. Credit: Noozhawk file photo

The UC Santa Barbara baseball team has been picked to repeat as Big West champions in 2023 by a panel of the conference’s 11 head coaches.

The Gauchos retained multiple key pieces from the team that finished 2022 with a 27-3 conference record, while also adding talent through the transfer portal and in the incoming class of freshmen.

Returning standouts Mike Gutierrez and Broc Mortensen were named to the Preseason All-Conference team. Both were All-Big West second-team picks last season.

UCSB also returns all-conference honorees Ryan GallagherMatt AgerChristian Kirtley, and John Newman, Jr. Gallagher and Ager both earned Freshman All-American honors last season, and Gallagher was named Big West Freshman of the Year.

Also back this season after missing the 2022 campaign is Carter Benbrook, who was named a Preseason All-American by the National College Baseball Writers Association earlier this month.

The crop of newcomers is headlined by freshman Tyler Bremner, whom D1Baseball picked as their Big West Preseason Freshman of the Year.

Following the Gauchos in the Preseason Poll in order are UC Irvine, Long Beach State, Cal Poly, Cal State Fullerton, Hawai’i, CSUN, UC San Diego, UC Davis, CSU Bakersfield, and UC Riverside.

UCSB received eight first-place votes, with the Long Beach State, Fullerton, and Hawaii each receiving a single first-place vote.

UCSB’s first game of the season is only a week away against Minnesota at the Sanderson Ford Classic in Surprise, Arizona.