May 11, 2009

UCSB Sweeps Big West Player/Pitcher of the Week Honors

May 11, 2009

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - Juniors Matt Valaika and Joe Gardner helped lead UC Santa Barbara's baseball team to four victories last week, notching each of them the Big West Player and Pitcher of the Week.

It is the first time the Gauchos swept the conference honors since April 30, 2001 when Chad Peshke and Jim Bullard took home Player and Pitcher of the Week awards.

Valaika went 8-for-13 (.615) in four games last week, scoring six runs, knocking in nine more and hitting four doubles and a home run.

Gardner pitched one of UCSB's best games in recent memory, tossing a complete-game, two-hit shutout over Long Beach State in the first game of Saturday's doubleheader. Gardner struck out five and faced just three batters over the minimum. He retired the final 13 batters of the game and 20 of the final 22 he faced. He allowed just one runner past second base. Gardner is now 7-1 with a 3.48 ERA.

It was the first two-hitter thrown by a Gaucho since Troy Kinto did so against Pacific on May 2, 1999.

The weekend series vs. Long Beach State was the Gauchos' first three-game sweep against the 49ers since 2004. The games were played at Cal State Fullerton's Goodwin Field due to the Jesusita Fire in Santa Barbara.

Opening up the week with a Wednesday game at Pepperdine, Valaika went 2-for-4 with three RBI and two runs scored.

Then, in three games vs. Long Beach State, Valaika went 6-for-9 with five runs scored and six RBI.

In the second game of Saturday's doubleheader, Valaika went 4-for-4 with four RBI and four runs scored. He doubled and homered in the game. The four RBI represented a career-high for him.

In all four games last week the Valencia, Calif. native doubled and drew one walk.

Valaika has 13 multi-RBI games this season, tops on the team, and his .340 batting average is second on the Gauchos. He has recorded a hit in 13 of his past 14 starts, batting .410 in that time (25-for-61) while knocking in 20 runs and recording eight doubles and three home runs in that time.

Earlier this year UCSB Athletics unveiled the BE Great initiative. BE Great is dedicated to maximizing leadership ability, strong on-campus interaction, and general welfare for all 450 student-athletes and Intercollegiate Athletics staff at UC Santa Barbara. BE Great also focuses on personal and career development, diversity, and social awareness, along with ensuring academic success. UCSB has a 92% student-athlete graduation rate.

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