UCSB Visits USC, Hosts UCR to Start Conference Play

April 5, 2006


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The Schedule
Games 26-29
UC Santa Barbara Gauchos vs. USC Trojans
Wednesday, April 5, 2006 at 6:00 p.m. at USC's Dedeaux Field
UC Santa Barbara Gauchos vs. UC Riverside Highlanders
Friday, April 7, 2006 at 2:00 p.m. at UCSB's Caesar Uyesaka Stadium
Saturday, April 8, 2006 at 1:00 p.m. UCSB's Caesar Uyesaka Stadium
Sunday, April 9, 2006 at 1:00 p.m. at UCSB's Caesar Uyesaka Stadium

This Week
UCSB (13-13) will square-off against USC (17-13) on Wednesday before hosting a three-game conference series with UC Riverside (16-10) over the weekend. Wednesday's game is scheduled to start at 6 p.m. The three game series with UCR is scheduled to start on Friday at 2 p.m.

A Look Back at Last Week
UCSB is coming off a spring break trip to Hawaii in which it went 3-3. After the first game of a three-game series with the University of Hawaii was postponed to a double-header the next day, UCSB fell 8-6 and 3-0 in the two games that day. The third and final game of the series was cancelled due to rain. UCSB then visited the University of Hawaii-Hilo for what was scheduled to be a three-game series. UCSB lost the opening game 5-4 in ten innings before coming back to sweep a double-header the next day by a count of 8-4 and 12-1. As a result of the cancelled game earlier in the week, the two squads decided to play a fourth game on Saturday. UCSB came out swinging in the game, tallying 22 runs on 23 hits to earn a 22-6 victory and a 3-1 series victory.

Leaders in the Middle
Gaucho middle infielders Alden Carrithers and Chris Valaika continue to be the leaders of the Gauchos offensively. Carrithers leads all Gauchos in batting average (.402), on base percentage (.514), runs scored (30), walks (21) and stolen bases (5). He also ranks second in hits (35), doubles (5), triples (1), total bases (42), total plate appearances (110) and at bats (87). The Portland, Ore. native has at least one hit in 15 of his last 17 games played, including seven multi-hit games in the same span. Valaika ranks first in RBI (27), hits (39), doubles (8), home runs (5), total bases (64), sac flies (2), stolen base percentage (1.000), total plate appearances (114) and at bats (104). He also ranks second in batting average (.375), slugging percentage (.615), runs scored (24) and triples (1). The Valencia, Calif. native connected for three home runs on the trip to Hawaii. Valaika has tallied seven hits in his last ten at bats.

General Lee
Despite only having 37 at bats this year (10th on the team), Brian Lee has amassed a team-leading five home runs and fifteen RBI, ranking him second in the category. Lee's .622 slugging percentage places him first on the team. Over the weekend, Lee picked up his second grand slam of the year, the first coming on March 18 against TCU in a pinch-hit appearance. The very next day, Lee picked up the game winning hit and RBI to down the Horned Frogs 5-4. It is no surprise that head coach Bob Brontsema uses Lee as his bullet off the bench. In games in which Lee starts, he is 5-31 (.161). In games in which he comes off the bench, Lee is batting .500 (three-for-six).

Gauchos Go Streaking
Seven Gauchos are currently riding hit streaks of three or more games headed into Wednesday's match up with USC. Junior Robbie Blauer is currently riding a four-game hit streak in which he has batted .500 (6-12). Sophomore phenom Alden Carrithers also has a four-game hit streak entering the game with USC. The Portland, Ore. native is batting .333 (5-15) over the streak. Senior Matt Emerick is batting a scorching .636 (7-11) over a three game hitting streak. Freshman Shane Carlson is riding a three-game hit streak, including a five-for-seven game on April 1. Freshmen Brian Gump and Austin Hogans, along with sophomore Dave Harrit all have a three-game hit streak headed into this week's games.

Probable Gaucho Starters
C - Matt McColgan -Went one-for-two with a run scored in game three against UHH
C - Chris McMurray -His ten games as a sub are tops on the team
1B - Robbie Blauer -Batted .500 (6-12) with eight runs scored in series against UHH
2B - Alden Carrithers -Has at least one hit in 15 of his last 17 games played
3B - Shane Carlson -Riding a three-game hit streak; batted five-for-seven on Apr. 1
3B - Matt Clark -Ranks third on the team in hit-by-pitches
SS - Chris Valaika -Connected for three home runs on the trip to Hawaii
LF - Brian Lee -Shares the top spot on the home run list after homering against UHH
CF - Matt Emerick -Tallied nine RBI in the series against UHH
RF - Mario Lewis -Has at least one hit in six of his last seven games
OF - Brian Gump -Went four-for-eight in the series against UHH
DH - Matt Anderson - Started three of the six games in Hawaii
RHP - Bryan Fleming -1-4, 4.11 ERA
RHP - Andy Graham -2-3, 4.96 ERA
RHP - Brian Tracy -1-4, 3.93 ERA
LHP - Jeff Braun -1-0, 0.00 ERA

Scouting the Trojans
USC, coached by Mike Gillespie, is 17-13 and is coming off a 2-1 conference series win over Stanford. After the Friday game was postponed to the first game of a double-header on Saturday, USC fell to the Cardinal by a count of 9-7. USC then battled back in game two to take a 3-2 win in twelve innings. In the rubber match of the series on Sunday, USC defeated Stanford 6-1. Leading hitters for USC are sophomore Matt Cusick (.405, 2 HR, 23 RBI), junior Daniel Perales (.366, 2 HR, 20 RBI) and junior Cyle Hankerd (.357, 5 HR, 33 RBI). Junior right-hander Shawn Olsen (3-1, 5.57) is scheduled to start for the Trojans on Wednesday.

Scouting UC Riverside
UCR, coached by Doug Smith, is 16-10 and is coming off a 2-1 series win over UC Davis. The Highlanders will take on UNLV before entering the weekend series. UCR took the first of three games from UCD by a count of 3-2. UC Davis battled back to even the series with a 7-5 ten-inning victory before falling 5-3 in the rubber match. Leading hitters for UCR are sophomore Jeff Dunbar (.377, 1 HR, 18 RBI), sophomore Jaime Pedroza (.362, 2 HR, 13 RBI) and junior Kyle Barratt (.320, 2 HR, 10 RBI). Riverside's weekend rotation is slated to be sophomore right-hander James Simmons (6-1, 1.39 ERA), senior right-hander Haley Winter (2-2, 4.58 ERA) and junior right-hander Taylor Bills (3-1, 3.31 ERA).

Series Record
USC leads the all-time series between the two schools 78-41. USC defeated UCSB 16-11 earlier this season. UCR leads the all-time series between the two schools 12-9.

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 334-333 (.501). 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.

What's Up Next?
After the three-game series with UCR, UCSB will continue conference action when it visits Pacific for a three-game series starting on Thursday, April 13. Game one is scheduled for a 2 p.m. start, game two is scheduled to start at 2 p.m. and Saturday's game three is scheduled for 1 p.m. Pacific will take on Stanford on Wednesday at Sunken Diamond before visiting UC Davis for a three-game weekend series.