UCSB Opens 2003 Baseball Season This Weekend Against San Diego State

The Schedule
Game No. 1, 2, 3
Friday, January 31, 2003 at 2:00 p.m. (PST)
Saturday, Febuary 1, 2003 at 1:00 p.m. (PST)
Sunday, Febuary 2, 2003 at 1:00 p.m. (PST)
UC Santa Barbara Gauchos vs. San Diego State Aztecs
at Caesar Uyesaka Stadium

A Look Back at 2002
The Gauchos finished the 2002 season with an overall record of 22-33. Despite a potent offense which scored 416 runs, the third-highest total in the Big West, UCSB finished seventh in league with a record of 8-16. On February 22, in a game against Creighton, the Gauchos recorded team-highs in runs scored (23), hits (25), RBI (22), and total bases (43). Following the 2002 season, outfielder Ryan Spilborghs was selected by the Colorado Rockies in the seventh round of the Major League Draft.

The Gauchos return numerous players who saw significant action last season and they hope that translates into better results this season. UCSB returns three of their most productive pitchers in junior Matt Vasquez, senior Sean Thompson and sophomore Eric Posthumus. They also return three starters on the infield, including junior third baseman Nate Sutton, senior first baseman Josh McCanne, and sophomore second baseman Chris Malec. Rounding out their top returnees from last season are offensive threats Matt Wilkerson, Taylor Vogt, and Blair Havens. The three players will all see different roles from a season ago. Wilkerson, who was the designated hitter most of the season will move to right field. Vogt, who caught the majority of the games for the Gauchos last season will provide UCSB with a steady bat in the DH slot when he's not catching. Havens started 25 of 52 games in left field last season and he will see the majority of the innings this season. Overall the Gaucho coaching staff is confident of the experience they return this season.

The Rotation
The UC Santa Barbara baseball team returns five experienced hurlers and adds a solid core of freshman guns. Matt Vasquez (5-10, 5.53) will start the season as the Gauchos' ace and get the ball against San Diego State on Friday. In 2002, Vasquez won four of his first five starts and finished with a team-high 69 strikeouts. Senior Sean Thompson (4-3, 5.34) will start the season as UCSB's number two starter. Thompson has had good stuff during the fall workouts and hopes to carry that into the regular season. The remaining spot in the starting rotation may be filled by freshman All-American Eric Posthumus, true freshman Steve Morlock, junior transfer Ivan Ramirez or senior James Dayley. "The question will be is who's going to step forward and take the spot," said head coach Bob Brontsema. In the pen, Jared Edrosolan returns from a back injury and looks to be the Gaucho closer in 2003. Returnees Mike Sutherland, Alex McRobbie and freshmen Mike Martin, Andy Graham, and Brian Tracy should should solidify the UCSB staff.

New Faces in the Outfield
The loss of outfielders Andy Campanella, R.J. Smith, and Ryan Spilborghs will give the Gaucho outfield a whole new look in 2003. Blair Havens, who led the Gauchos with a .387 batting average last year, will play left field. Havens will see time in both the leadoff spot and the two hole. In center field there is a three way battle between freshman Matt Emerick, red-shirt freshman Gabe Mann and transfer Brian Adams. Emerick and Adams both provide a left handed bat in the lineup while Mann provides impressive speed. Sophomore Matt Wilkerson will fill the void left by Spilborghs in right field. The Freshman All-American led the Gauchos in home runs (16) and was second on the team in runs scored (49). Freshman Chris Caraballo has good offensive skills and should also see action as a role player in the outfield this season. Brontsema is excited about the addition of speed and range in the outfield.

Havens Riding 14-Game Hitting Streak
Senior left fielder Blair Havens carries a 14-game hitting streak into the series with San Diego State. Havens started his streak against Cal State Fullerton on April 21, 2002. He is an impressive 22-for-60 and is hitting at a .367 clip during the streak, which has lasted a school-record nine-and-a-half and months.

With Honors
The UC Santa Barbara baseball team returns three freshmen All-Americans in pitcher Eric Posthumus, second baseman Chris Malec, and outfielder/designated hitter Matt Wilkerson. In 2002, Posthumus posted a 6-1 record and an ERA of 5.34. Malec led the Gauchos in three offensive categories, hits (75), doubles (17) and RBI (60). Wilkerson led the UCSB in home runs (16) and was second on the team in runs scored (49). His 16 home runs were a Big West record for a freshman. The trio of sophomores hope to pick up where they left off a season ago.

The Brontsema File
Bob Brontsema enters his 10th season as head coach of the UC Santa Barbara baseball program. It was just two seasons ago that Brontsema logged his 200th victory, becoming the third coach in school history to do so. He enters this season with a career mark of 238-241. Brontsema's team ended the 2002 season 22-33 overall and 8-16 in Big West Conference play. Brontsema's has been selected twice as Big West Coach of the Year. In 2001, his team finished with a mark of 40-17, good for a .701 winning percentage, the highest in school history. Brontsema's 2001 squad also had 10 players sign professional contracts after the season. Brontsema was also selected as Big West Coach of the Year in 1996, when he piloted UCSB to a 32-20 overall mark and 14-7 showing in conference play. 1996 also marked UCSB's return to NCAA Regional play for the first time since 1990. During the 1996 season, the Gauchos notched two wins at Cal State Fullerton and beat both USC and UCLA once.

Probable Starters for the Gauchos
P Matt Vasquez *Led the Gauchos in starts (16), and strikeouts (69).
C Chad Ziemendorf *Threw out 36.4% of potential base runners.
1B Josh McCanne *Started all 55 games for UCSB in 2002.
2B Chris Malec *Batted .328 and led team last year with 60 RBI.
3B Nate Sutton *Scored 41 runs and recorded 27 RBI in 2002.
SS Josh Fulton *Batted .276 in 28 games for the Gauchos.
LF Blair Havens *Scored 40 runs and led team in batting avg. (.367)
CF Matt Emerick *True freshman batted .405 his senior year.
RF Matt Wilkerson *Batted .312 and led team with 16 homeruns.
DH Taylor Vogt *Batted .318 and mashed 9 doubles in 2002.

Scouting the Aztecs
San Diego State comes into the three-game series with the Gauchos with a record of 0-3. The Aztecs were swept by eighth-ranked Arizona State in a three-game road series last weekend. San Diego State committed a season high seven errors and was outscored 24-9 in the final game of the series. Outfielder Anthony Gwynn, shortstop Peter Stonard and third baseman Chad Corona lead the Aztec's offensive attack. Gwynn and Corona each earned preseason All-American honors while Stonard, a transfer from Alabama, earned preseason All-Mountain West Conference honors. Veteran pitchers Joe Carque and Mike Moat lead SDSU on the hill. Carque finished 2002 with a record of 9-3, and the hard throwing Moat looked strong in his first outing this season allowing only three hits in five innings of work.

Series Record
San Diego State holds a 26-5 series lead over UCSB, but the Gauchos have not lost since 1987. The teams last meeting came at San Diego State in 1998, a contest UC Santa Barbara won, 20-1.

Head Coach Tony Gwynn
San Diego State is led by first year head coach Tony Gwynn. Gwynn takes over as head coach after volunteering for Jim Dietz in 2002. He played for the Aztecs from 1979 to 1981 before starting a 20-year major league career with the San Diego Padres. Gwynn retired in 2001, but not before capturing 8 batting titles, five gold gloves and a career batting average of .338.

KCSB Sports Live Broadcast
KCSB will broadcast the following games on 91.9 FM this season:
Friday, Jan. 31 vs. SDSU
Sunday, Feb. 2 vs. SDSU
Friday, Feb. 14 @ SJSU
Saturday, Feb. 15 @ SJSU
Tuesday, Feb.. 18 vs. UCLA
Saturday, Feb. 22 vs. Santa Clara
Tuesday, March 4 vs. Keio
Sunday, March 9 @ LMU