UCSB Visits Cal for First Road Series of 2006

Feb. 23, 2006

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. -

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The Schedule
Games 8-10
UC Santa Barbara Gauchos vs. Cal Bears
Friday, February 24, 2006 at 2:30 p.m. at Cal's Evans Diamond
Saturday, February 25, 2006 at 1:00 p.m. at Cal's Evans Diamond
Sunday, February 26, 2006 at 1:00 p.m. at Cal's Evans Diamond

This Week
UC Santa Barbara is coming off a 5-3 victory over Westmont on Tuesday of this week. The Gauchos now have to travel to Berkeley, Calif. to face Cal in their first road series of 2006. The series starts on Friday at 2:30 p.m.

A Look Back at Last Week
UC Santa Barbara split its games last week, falling to USC 16-11 on Tuesday and defeating the University of British Columbia 4-3 in an exhibition game that does not count toward the stats.

UCSB Bats are Tops in Big West
The Gauchos have come out swinging in the 2006 season. UCSB is batting .349, which ranks first in the strong Big West Conference. Cal State Fullerton, a perennial powerhouse, ranks second with a .311 average in nine games played. In addition, when the Gauchos reach base, they are second in the Big West in stolen base percentage, 80%. UC Irvine leads the category with an .833 stolen base percentage.

Double-Digit Duties
In the six official games the Gauchos have played, UCSB has posted ten or more hits in each of the six games. The Gauchos have also scored ten or more runs in two of those six games. UCSB tallied sixteen runs on seventeen hits against Westmont to open the season on February 7, two runs on ten hits on February 10 against San Jose State, eight runs on eleven hits against the Spartans on February 11, four runs on fourteen hits to close the three-game series with SJSU on February 12, eleven runs on twelve hits against USC on February 14 and five runs on ten hits to defeat Westmont again on February 21.

Infield Bats Lead the Way
Of the six Gauchos that have played in five or more games this season and are batting above .350, five of them are designated on the roster as infielders. Third baseman/designated hitter Matt Clark leads all of these players with a .500 average in ten at-bats. Everyday middle infielders Chris Valaika and Alden Carrithers rank second and third in the category with .417 and .409 averages, respectively. Valaika has tallied a team-leading ten hits, including a double and a home run, while accumulating a team-high ten RBI. Carrithers, a Portland, Ore. native, has posted nine hits, including a double, while tallying seven RBI. Junior first baseman Robbie Blauer is hitting .381 on the season with one double and two RBI. The lone outfielder on the list is Mario Lewis with a batting average of .375. Lewis has connected for two doubles, the Gauchos' only triple and five RBI on the season. Freshman third baseman Shane Carlson rounds out the list with a solid .364 batting average through the first six games. The Hart HS product has tallied two doubles and driven in three runs in 2006.

Freshmen Fowls
The freshmen members of the UCSB pitching staff lead the Big West with eight balks in their first six games. Brandt Hill, who leads the staff in the category, has committed four balks in his 2.2 IP. Matt Wade ranks second on the team with two balks in 5.2 IP. Clayton Edwards and Anthony Martin round out the list with one balk apiece.

Probable Gaucho Starters
C - Matt McColgan-Half of his hits this season have resulted in extra bases
1B - Robbie Blauer-Has a hit in four of his five games played
2B - Alden Carrithers-Tallied multiple hits in four of the first six games
3B - Matt Clark-.500 BA is tops amongst players with at least five games played
SS - Chris Valaika-Junior is riding a six-game hit streak
LF - Brian Lee-Owns one of the two Gaucho home runs this season
CF - Matt Emerick-Has started five of the six games for the Gauchos in centerfield
RF - Mario Lewis-Has the only Gaucho triple this season
DH - Clayton Shank-Batting .500 with one double on the year

Scouting Cal
Cal, coached by David Esquer (7th year, 178-166, .517), is 3-5 and has not hit the diamond since February 14--a 13-9 loss to UC Davis. All three of the Bears' last weekend games with Baylor were cancelled due to weather. Leading hitters for Cal are senior Allen Craig (.344, 0 HR, 2 RBI), junior Brett Munster (.318, 0 HR, 2 RBI) and junior Chris Errecart (.310, 4 HR, 9 RBI). Cal's weekend rotation is slated to be junior right-hander Brandon Morrow (1-0, 1.59 ERA), junior right-hander Michael Cooper (0-1, 5.23 ERA) and freshman right-hander Tyson Ross (1-1, 4.91 ERA). In 2005, the Bears finished 34-23 overall, 13-11 in the Pac-10.

Series Record
Cal leads the all-time series between the two schools 29-14. UCSB's last win and loss to the Bears came in 2001.

The Brontsema File
2006 marks the 25th year of head coach Bob Brontsema's involvement in the UCSB baseball program. He is now in his 13th season as head coach, after ten years as an assistant and two as a player. Brontsema's career record is 325-323 (.502). He has been selected Big West Coach of the Year twice, in 1996 when he guided the Gauchos to a 32-20 record and an at-large spot in the NCAA Tournament, and in 2001, when he led the team to a 40-17 mark and another NCAA Tournament berth. The .701 winning percentage in 2001 was the best in school history. In 2004, Brontsema's Gauchos posted the second most overall wins in his career as head coach, going 33-21. Milestone dates in Brontsema's coaching career include win no. 100 in 1997, win no. 200 in 2001 and career win number 300 with the 6-1 victory over San Jose State on February 13th, 2005.

UCSB Gametracker
UCSB has purchased the ability to telecast all home games using the online gametracker feature developed by Stat Crew Software, INC. Now fans can get online and see play-by-play summaries of the game as it is being played live. The system should be up and running by the Gauchos' next home stand against Cal Poly on March 10.

Next Week
UCSB will continue action next week when it plays a three-game series against Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles, Calif. The first game is on Friday at 2 p.m.