May 6, 2004

UCSB Heads Into Series With Northridge On Four-Game Winning Streak

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May 6, 2004

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. -
FIRST PITCH: In what Head Coach Bob Brontsema at one point referred to as "one of the greatest moments in Gaucho history", UC Santa Barbara rebounded from a 2-7 start in Big West play to sweep No. 4 Long Beach State on the road last weekend. The sweep at Blair Field marked the first time the Gauchos have taken three straight from the Dirtbags on the road since 1987 and the first time anywhere since 2000. With the victories, Santa Barbara improved to 5-7 in conference and moved into a three-way tie for fourth place with UC Irvine and Cal Poly.

On Deck
With just 10 games remaining in its 2004 schedule, the Gauchos have a 27-17 overall mark and a 5-7 conference record. UCSB will host Cal State Northridge for three games this weekend before playing its final regular season home game on Tuesday, May 11 against Pepperdine.That game will be the make-up of a February 22 rainout. To close out the campaign, Santa Barbara will take on Pacific and Cal Poly in back-to-back Big West road series.

Upset at the Beach
Energized by Chris Malec's improbable eighth-inning grand slam on Friday night, UC Santa Barbara completed one of the most stunning upsets around the country this past weekend as it captured a three-game road sweep against then No. 4 Long Beach State. The Gauchos came from behind in two of the three contests to take victories on Friday and Saturday before using late-inning heroics on Sunday to finalize the sweep. Malec's slam on Friday came against Dirtbag starter Jered Weaver, one of the nation's top professional pitching prospects. Weaver had struck out 14 batters before the Gaucho second baseman stepped up with the bases loaded and tied the game at 4-4. UCSB then strung together five two-out hits in the ninth highlighted by C.J. Cook's go-ahead RBI single to take an 8-4 lead and the series opener. On Saturday, freshman shortstop Chris Valaika laced a two-out, two-RBI double off the center field wall in the seventh to give UCSB a 4-2 lead. Loren Fraser pitched the final three innings of scoreless relief to pick up the save for Santa Barbara. On Sunday, the Gauchos scored four times in the sixth, scoring its first run on Nate Sutton's RBI triple. A Greg Powers RBI double scored two more for UCSB and gave them a 4-0 with nine outs to play. But the Beach charged back with four in the eighth highlighted by starting pitcher Jason Vargas' three-run home run. In the tenth, however, Sutton returned to the plate and launched his second home run of the year off the scoreboard in right-field to give UCSB a 5-4 lead. Again, Fraser retired the final batter to earn his second save in two days.

Loren Fraser Named Big West Pitcher of the Week
Gaucho junior right-hander Loren Fraser was honored as Pitcher of the Week by the Big West Conference Monday afternoon after he helped lead the Gauchos to their three-game sweep over the weekend. The two-time walk-on recorded his first two career saves as he held the Dirtbags scoreless on just one hit over 3.1 innings of work on Saturday and Sunday. Fraser, a native of Castro Valley, Calif., picked up his first save in the Gauchos 6-2 victory on Saturday. He worked the seventh through ninth innings out of the bullpen and struck out two while walking none. He allowed just a two-out double in the seventh. On Sunday, Fraser entered with two outs in the tenth with Santa Barbara ahead 5-4. After hitting the first man he faced to load the bases, the junior induced second baseman T.J. Bruce into a game and series-ending infield pop out. With the 3.1 innings of work, Fraser increased his scoreless innings streak to eight and lowered his ERA to 2.03. Fraser is the first Gaucho pitcher to receive such an honor since James Garcia on May 7, 2001.

Gauchos On the Air
Local Santa Barbara radio stations KTLK AM 1340 and KTMS AM 990 will be broadcasting six of the remaining 10 games of UCSB's schedule. Brock Bowling will be on the call for Saturday and Sunday's game this weekend for the Gauchos along with other on-air personalities such as KEYT-TV's Gerry Fall. On Friday, Santa Barbara's Cox Channel 8 will be taping UCSB's game versus Cal State Northridge for broadcast at a later date. Please check with ucsbgauchos.com for times and dates of replay broadcasts.

Gaucho Rotation

FRIDAY
Michael Martin (RHP)
Record: 8-3 ERA: 5.22
Sophomore is winless since April 2. Lasted just five innings once since.

SATURDAY
Andy Graham (RHP)
Record: 3-4 ERA: 4.57
Allowed just one earned run over six innings against #4 Long Beach State.

SUNDAY
Steve Morlock (RHP)
Record: 6-4 ERA: 4.74
Has seven game unbeaten streak, lasted 7.2 innings last outing.

About the Matadors
Cal State Northridge will enter this weekend's three-game Big West series with a 16-30 overall mark and a 2-10 record in conference play. The Matadors' only two confernce wins came at the hands of UC Irvine last weekend as CSUN took the opener and finale against the Anteaters at home. Northridge is being outscored by opponents 380-268 through 46 games and post a .288 team batting average and a 6.85 staff ERA. At the plate, the Matadors are led by Jonny Coit, a junior catcher and outfielder. In 105 at-bats, Voita is hitting .371 with a double, two triples and three home runs. Meanwhile, left-handed sophomore Michael Paulk leads the team and the entire Big West Conference with 14 round-trippers. All but three Northridge hitters have blasted at least one home run in 2004. On the mound, Cal State Northridge will send left-hander Eddy Camacho to face the Gauchos on Friday and then counter with righty Joe Rocchio on Saturday. The Matadors are still undecided as to who will be their Sunday starting pitcher. This season Camacho is 1-3 with a 6.33 ERA in 17 appearances. Friday's game will mark just his seventh start and that's after starting last Friday and Sunday's game against UCI. Camacho has struck out 38 batters in 48.1 innings of work. Rocchio will be making his eighth start of the season and will enter Saturday's contest with a 6.55 ERA and a 1-2 record.

Series Record CSUN holds the all-time series record over UCSB 48-50. However, the Gauchos have already taken two non-confernce contests from the Matadors earlier this season. Back on February 10, the Gauchos used an eight-run eighth inning to come form behind and defeat Northridge 10-7. Then on April 13 in Santa Barbara, the Gauchos won their then-ninth consecutive game with a 10-4 victory over the Matadors. In the two contests this season, Northridge's John Voita is hitting a cool .500 (3-for-6) with three runs scored and a home run. The Gauchos banged up Camacho in the April13 contest, tagging him for three runs on two hits in one inning. Rocchio faced the Gauchos in the February 10 game and allowed just one hit and no runs in one inning of work.

GAUCHO NOTEBOOK
UCSB NAMED TEAM OF THE WEEK: After sweeping a Big West series at fourth-ranked Long Beach State, the UC Santa Barbara Gauchos are the CollegeBaseballInsider.com team of the week for games played April 26-May 2. The Gauchos (27-17) defeated the 49ers 8-4 on Friday, 6-2 on Saturday and outlasted LBSU 5-4 in 10 innings on Sunday.

GAUCHOS AGAINST THE NATION: UCSB has only committed 43 errors in 44 games so far this season. The Gauchos team fielding percentage of .976 is good for fourth best in the entire nation. Creighton University, which holds the best fielding percentage of any NCAA Division 1 team is only .005 percentage points ahead of UCSB at .981. Offensively the Gauchos are also turning heads around the country. UCSB's 8.0 runs per game mark is the 23rd best mark in the nation. Senior Nate Sutton is helping to lead that charge with 1.32 runs per game. He ranks 17th among all players in that category.

ACCORDING TO BOYD: Boyd's World, a college baseball website featuring alternative statistics and rankings to the mainstream polls, lists UCSB as the 47th best team in the nation in terms of Iterative Strength Rating (ISR). ISR is a measure of team quality for NCAA Division I baseball based on record and strength of schedule. Boydsworld.com also lists the Gauchos as 74th with a .535 "pseudo-RPI" ranking.

GAUCHOS FEATURED IN SPORTS ILLUSTRATED: In the Thursday, May 6, 2004, edition of Sports Illustrated, UCSB and second baseman Chris Malec were noted for sweeping then No. 4 Long Beach State the previous weekend. On Friday, April 30, the Gauchos handed highly touted starting pitcher Jered Weaver his first no-decision en route to their 8-4 victory. Also featured in the magazine was former Gaucho infielder Michael Young, who is currently one of the American Leagues' biggest offensive threats as the Texas Rangers' new shortstop.

FRESHMAN ON FIRE: Freshman shortstop Chris Valaika has not disappointed Gaucho fans despite extremely high expectations entering the season. The 18-year old from Newhall, Calif., is second on the squad with a .337 average. He is second with seven home runs and has been extremely sure-handed in the field. Being the lone Gaucho to have never missed a single pitch in UCSB's 44 games this season, Valaika has only made ten errors at shortstop, good for a .958 fielding percentage. He also leads the Big West in assists with 155.

A TRIO OF RELIEF: UCSB's top three relivers, Alex McRobbie, Loren Fraser and Ivan Ramirez have combined to post a combined 2.09 season ERA. The three are 6-2 and have allowed just 24 runs in 103.2 innings pitched. In Big West play, the trio has allowed just three earned runs over 39 conference innings, good for a 0.69 Big West ERA. Against Long Beach State from April 30-May 2, the three combined for 10.2 scoreless relief innings while picking up a win and two saves.

CAUTION.... RECORDS FALLING: In their 31-3 rout over Cornell on March 25, the Gauchos set a new school record for RBI, twice tied the school record for at-bats in an inning, fell one run short of tying the school record for runs in a game and set new season highs for runs, hits, RBI, doubles, home runs and totals bases. UCSB tallied a total of 30 RBI, surpassing the mark of 28 set by the 1979 and 1997 squads and also knocked out 27 hits, including six doubles and four round-trippers.

CAUTION... RECORDS FALLING, PART 2: With 22 fielding assists, the Gauchos also set a new school record for assists in a game on March 27 against Cornell. The total eclipses the mark of 19 set against USC in 1990. Then on March 30 against LMU, 15 patient UCSB batters drew walks, setting a new school record for bases on balls in a game.

STEADY IMPROVEMENT: In its 16-4 victory over Westmont College on April 14, UCSB surpassed its total run output from 2003 as the Gauchos scored their 302nd run of the season. Last year, UCSB finished with 293 runs. UCSB also passed last year's total of 261 RBI that day as the Gauchos racked up 13 more, bring their 2004 total to 269. Currently, UCSB has 319 runs scored and 286 team RBI after 38 games. Santa Barbara has also been collecting bases on balls at a torrid pace. The team's 201 walks is nearly 40 more than the 2003 Gauchos had.

MELTDOWN ON THE MOUND:On April April 17 in their lopsided loss to UC Riverside, the Gaucho pitching staff surrendered a season-high 18 runs, 17 of which were earned. Prior to that game, the most runs UCSB had given up was 11 (Feb. 14 vs. San Jose State and March 9 vs. LMU).

MALEC HONORED BY BIG WEST: Junior second baseman Chris Malec was named Co-Big West Player of the Week on Monday, March 1, by the conference. The Laguna Niguel, Calif., native exploded for a .368 batting average over four games that week while driving in ten RBI and scoring four runs. In the Gauchos' 22-9 victory over Fresno State on Feb. 28, Malec went 3-for-6 with five RBI and two doubles. He collected hits in each of the Gauchos' games during the week. Malec also stole two bases over the week and posted a .474 slugging percentage. The selection was a first for Malec and also marked the first time any Gaucho had been awarded the honor since Mike Kolbach on April 23, 2001.

CAESAR UYESAKA CONSTRUCTION: The third base side of Caesar Uyesaka Stadium will be under construction for the remainder of the 2004 season. Beginning on March 21, ground was broke for a new state-of-the-art clubhouse facility for UCSB baseball.