No Fooling: Baseball Off To Best Start Since 1990 At 21-8

April 2, 2001

This Week In Gaucho Baseball (TWIGB)
Wednesday, April , 2 pm - at Westmont
Friday, April 6, 2 pm - Riverside
Sat.-Sun., April 7-8, 1 pm - Riverside

It's The Numbers
At 21-8 going into the final week of non-conference play, UCSB is off to its best start since 1990, when it started the year with a 23-8 run. The last time a Gaucho team was ten or more games over the .500 mark was at the close of the 1996 season before UCSB lost two in the Big West tournament and a pair in the NCAA tournament to finish 32-20. 18 of UCSB's 21 wins this year have come in two stretches during which the Gauchos won nine of ten games. Coach Bob Brontsema's team is in the midst of one such run, including a 6-1 showing in Hawaii over spring break.

Aloha Means Hitting
After coming home with the 26th Annual Verizon Rainbow Easter Tournament title, the Gauchos would probably turn around and head right back to the Aloha state if given the chance. Why? Well, why not? After all, it is Hawaii. And besides, in seven tournament games, UCSB hit .400 as a team, averaging 15 hits and nine runs per game. In six previous games played at the University of Hawaii, UCSB baseball teams scored a total of 16 runs, albeit against different opponents in a different era and without the Celebrated Gaucho Infield as its offensive core.

Good Pitching Means Winning
10.80 and 3.63. Those numbers represent the Gauchos' team ERA after its season-opening series at San Jose State and in all games since that series, respectively. On the season, UCSB boasts an ERA of 4.32, nearly four runs lower than its opponents' 8.26 mark and two runs better than its 6.28 showing last season. Going on the theory that a staff is only as good as its weakest man, UCSB pitching is twice as good as it was a year ago. The highest ERA on this year's staff is 7.36, while the highest in 2000 was 15.00. One of the secrets to the Gauchos' success has been starting pitching. In its most recent seven-game win streak, UCSB got wins from five different starting pitchers. In their last 13 outings, Gaucho pitchers have averaged just over seven innings per start, with only one man leaving the game before the seventh inning, when Matt Vasquez went 4.2 innings in a seven-inning game vs. Dartmouth.

Ogle, Von Schell, Renegades Of Funk
Well, there really is no connection other than that two are good players and the other a good song. Ogle beat famed Wichita State and defending NAIA champ Lewis-Clark State with two complete game efforts in Hawaii, the first such games of his two-year UCSB career. At 7-1 on the season, Ogle leads the Big West Conference in wins and could potentially become UCSB's first ten-game winner since pitching coach Tom Myers logged double-digit victories in 1991. Ogle has recorded three of UCSB's nine wins in its last ten games. All Von Schell did in Hawaii was hit .452 with three homers and 11 RBI. The first baseman leads the team with 22 extra-base hits, including 12 homers, and 38 RBI. Von Schell has hit safely in 28 of UCSB's 29 games tihs season, including the Gauchos' last nine. Finally, with 25 games remaining on the schedule, Greg Vella's mark of 17 home runs in 1986 is within reach for the Carmel native.

Race For 200
Bob Brontsema returns for his eighth season as Gaucho skipper. He owns a career record of 197-199 (.497). UCSB's best record under Brontsema came in 1996, when it went 32-20 overall and 14-7 in Big West games, good for an NCAA Regionals appearance. With his 28-25 finish in 2000, Brontsema has posted two straight over-.500 campaigns, the school's first such achievement since 1992.