UCSB Takes On Big West Foes, Travels to Houston for Weekend Set

UCSB Takes On Big West Foes, Travels to Houston for Weekend Set
The Schedule
Games No. 9, 10, 11, 12 and 13

Tuesday, March 4 - 2:00 p.m. (PDT)
Cal Poly at UCSB
at Ceasar Uyesaka Stadium

Wednesday, March 5 - 2:00 p.m. (PDT)
UCSB at Cal State Northridge
at Matador Field

Friday, March 7 - 4:30 p.m. (PDT)
UCSB at University of Houston
at Cougar Field

Saturday, March 8 - 4:30 p.m. (PDT)
UCSB at University of Houston
at Cougar Field

Sunday, March 9 - 11:00 a.m. (PDT)
UCSB at University of Houston
at Cougar Field

The Gaucho Record
UC Santa Barbara (5-3) plays its first games of the season against Big West foes Cal Poly (3-4) and Cal State Northridge (4-2) on Tuesday and Wednesday, respectively. The two games, however, are not scheduled as Conference games. The Gauchos welcome the Mustangs for a 2:00 p.m. home game on Tuesday, and then travel to Northridge for a 2:00 p.m. Wednesday game at Matador Field. From there the Gauchos travel to Houston, Texas for a three-game weekend set against the University of Houston Cougars (4-4).

This Week
UCSB takes on conference rival Cal Poly for the first of five meetings scheduled this season between the Mustangs. Last year the Mustangs swept the Gauchos in three games, scoring 22 runs over the May 25-27 series. The Gauchos then take on the CS Northridge Matadors, whom they beat five out of six times last year. The two squads are scheduled to meet six times this season. From there UCSB travels to Texas to face the UH Cougars. UCSB last faced Houston in 2003, winning the game 4-2.

The Week That Was
The Gauchos played No.3 UCLA to the wire in a thirteen inning game, that saw former Gaucho Alden Carrithers deliver the game-winning hit against his ex-team. UCSB then split their four-game set against Loyola Marymount, taking games three and four from the Lions, 6-2 and 3-2, respectively. The Gauchos walked away from their five game road trip with a 2-3 record, pushing their overall 2008 record to 5-3.

The Rotation
Freshman Jesse Meaux (0-0) will start the first game of his career against Cal Poly on Tuesday. The Glendale, Calif., native has pitched two innings out of the bullpen thus far, allowing three runs on three hits, walking one and striking out none. Freshman Greg Davis (0-0) gets the nod against CS Northridge on Wednesday. The Huntington Beach, Calif., native has allowed one run on one hit in one inning of work thus far. The Gauchos will then turn to their regular starting rotation for the weekend series against Houston. Sophomore Mike Ford (1-0) will get the nod in the series opener against Houston on Friday. Ford's last outing came against LMU where he pitched six innings allowing only two runs, while striking out six. Mario Hollands (1-1) will pitch game two against the Cougars, looking to pick up his second win in a Gaucho uniform. Finally, Chuck Huggins (2-0) will take the mound for the Gauchos in the series finale. The senior is the Gauchos most experienced starter, having manned the hill a total of 19 times. The southpaw has won both his starts to begin the year and looks to continue his success against the Cougars in search of career victory number nine.

Huggy Bear
Senior Chuck Huggins (2-0) has won both his starts to begin the season. The Redwood City, Calif., native is now 8-2 in his Gau- cho career, an .800 winning percentage. Huggins has fanned 16 batters in only 12 innings of work, while walking only two.

Be Like Mike
Left fielder Mike Zuanich had a very strong start to the year hitting .455 over the weekend against Marist, adding a homerun and team-high five RBI. Zuanich is fourth on the team in batting average (.357), second in hits (10), second in RBI (7), and first in .OBP (.441).

The Bob Brontsema File
2008 marks the 27th year of head coach Bob Brontsema's involvement in the UCSB baseball program. He is now in his 15th season as head coach, after ten years as an assistant and two as a player. Brontsema's career record is 371-379-2 (.495). He has been selected Big West Coach of the Year twice, first in 1996 when he guided the Gauchos to a 32-20 record and an at-large bid in the NCAA Tournament, and again in 2001, when he led the team to a 40-17 mark and another NCAA Tournament berth. The .702 winning percentage in 2001 ranks third highest 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 his coaching career include April 27, 1997, marking his 100th career win with a 16-4 victory over the University of Pacific and April 7, 2001, a day that saw him earn career win number 200 with a 7-2 victory over UC Riverside. The 6-1 victory over San Jose State on Feb. 13, 2005 marked yet another milestone for Brontsema, career win number 300. Victory number 344, which pushed him past Dave Gorrie and into the No. 2 spot in career wins, came May 12, 2006 in an 8-6 win over Long Beach State.

Fantastic Ford
Mike Ford pitched lights-out baseball in the season opener against Marist, throwing a seven inning one-hitter. The Scottsdale, Ariz., native walked only one, while striking out a career-high 11 bat- ters. Ford is 1-0 on the year in two starts, having allowed 10 hits in 13 innings of work, while striking out 17 and walking only three.

Roses Are Red
Rose hit an impressive .400 out of the leadoff spot over the weekend series against Marist. The third baseman had four hits in 10 at-bats, with a double and a team-high four stolen bases. He also delivered the eventual game-winning RBI on 3/2 against LMU. Rose leads the team in at-bats (32) and is tied for the team lead in steals with a perfect 5-5 success ratio.

Fox Facts
Senior Chris Fox, an All-Big West Honorable Mention selection in 2007, provided con- sistent offensive production for the Gauchos last year out of the leadoff spot and looks to do much of the same this year. The slick-fielding center fielder was a Big West player of the week nominee to start the year by hitting .583 over the weekend against Marist, with a triple, a homerun, five RBI, and three stolen bases. Fox's three triples and .621 slugging percentage are good for first on the Gauchos.

The Middle Fiddle
Up the middle the Gauchos return Shane Carlson and Matt Valaika. Brontsema has made the early season switch, moving Carlson to second base and Valaika to shortstop in hopes of providing the Gauchos with more consistent defense. Over the past week, Carlson continued his torrid torrid hitting going a combined 7-for-20 (.350), with a double, a run scored, and four RBI.

Orange Oliver
Orange Coast College transfer Eric Oliver is coming into his own as a Gaucho. The Irvine, Calif., native has started all eight games for the Gauchos at first base, while hitting out of the three hole. Oliver is tied for the team lead in extra-base hits with four, and leads the team in walks with five. Oliver has also fielded his position perfectly in 77 chances, with 67 putouts, 10 assists, and six double plays. made the early season switch, moving Carlson to second base and Valaika to shortstop in hopes of providing the Gauchos with more consistent defense. Over the past week, Carlson continued his torrid hitting going a combined 7-for-20 (.350), with a double, a run scored, and four RBI.

Bubba Gump
Junior Brian Gump is making the most out of starting role as the Westminster, Calif., native has started in all eight games to begin the year. The sweet-swinging lefty has played right field, center field, and DH and has hit in a number of different spots in the lineup. Against LMU on March 1st, Gump went 3-for-5 out of the leadoff spot with a run scored, one RBI, and two stolen bases. His .367 batting average is good for second on the team, while his perfect 5-for-5 steal ratio is good for first.

Senior Trio
The Gauchos return six starters to the field from a year ago, including the senior trio of Patrick Rose, Mike Zuanich, and Chris Fox. Combined, the threesome accounted for 34% of the runs scored, 33% of the team's hits, 29% of all homeruns, and 32% of all RBIs in 2007.

Relief Corps.
Junior Matt Wade and senior Kyle Brown accounted for 54.2 innings last year and will be two of the most reliable arms out of the bullpen for UCSB in 2008. If return- ing fifth-year senior Michael Martin can prove he has fully recovered from a shoulder injury that shelved him for most of last year, he should play a pivotal role as either a starter or reliever. A very talented group of new pitchers joins the Gauchos with the addition of RHPs Jason Roenicke (Cuesta College), Jesse Meaux (Glendale HS), Greg Davis (Edison HS), Zach Samuels (DeAnza JC), and Pat McIntyre (Modesto JC). Pitching Coach Tom Myers is confident in using Roenicke as a closer and Meaux, Davis, and Samuels as swingmen with McIntyre being a go to guy in tough situations

Chris Behind The Dish
Junior catcher Chris McMurray started 42 of the 43 games he played in last year, hitting .264 with 20 runs and 19 RBI. The Mission Viejo, Calif. native had separate four and five-game hit streaks from Mar. 14 to Mar 18, and from Apr. 27 to May 5. Defensively, the backstop recorded 229 putouts in 287 chances, fielding an impressive .986. He gunned down 38 of 69 attempted base stealers, a 55% success rate. McMurray is hitting .217 on the year with a homerun and three RBI.

There are a total of 14 players that were not on the 2007 roster who will suit up for UCSB in 2008. Five of those 14 players are freshman, while the remaining nine transferred from other schools. Of those 14, three are infielders, five are right-handed pitchers, four are outfielders and two are catchers.