Heading Down Home Stretch, Gauchos Welcome UC Riverside for Crucial 3-Game Set

Heading Down Home Stretch, Gauchos Welcome UC Riverside for Crucial 3-Game Set

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May 13, 2008

The Schedule
Games No. 51, 52, & 53

Friday, May 16 - 2:00 p.m. (PDT)
UC Riverside at UCSB
at Caesar Uyesaka Stadium

Saturday, May 17 - 1:00 p.m. (PDT)
UC Riverside at UCSB
at Caesar Uyesaka Stadium

Sunday, May 18 - 1:00 p.m. (PDT)
UC Riverside at UCSB
at Caesar Uyesaka Stadium

On The Mound
Mike Ford (5-4) vs. LHP Paul Applebee (2-4)

Mario Hollands (6-2) vs. RHP Matt Larkins (6-4)

Chuck Huggins (8-2) vs. LHP Paul Bargas (1-4)

The Gaucho Record
UC Santa Barbara (31-19, 10-8) takes on the UC Riverside Highlanders (18-27, 12-6) for the first time in 2008. Last year, the Highlanders took two of three from the Gauchos, winning the first game 9-0, and the finale 9-8. UCSB won the second game of the series, 5-4. UC Riverside holds the all-time series advantage 16-11 heading into this weekend's three-game match-up.

This Week
UCSB takes on UC Riverside for the 28th time in the two program's histories. The Highlanders took two of three from UC Davis over the weekend. All three contests were one-run games, with UC Riverside taking the first and third games by 7-6 scores, and UC Davis winning the second game, 6-5. Although the Highlanders are nine games under .500 overall, they possess sole place of second place in the Big West Conference with a 12-6 record.

The Week That Was
The Gauchos started the week on a down note for the second straight week, dropping a 5-4 contest against Pepperdine. UCSB had a chance in the game, but hit a Wave with the bases loaded to drive in the game-winning run. From there, UCSB traveled to Long Beach to take on the Dirtbags. All three games were closely contested, but unfortunately UCSB got the short end of the stick, losing two of three games. Dirtbag ace Andrew Liebel out-dueled Mike Ford in game one for his second consecutive complete game shutout. A two-run Long Beach seventh inning did in the Gauchos in game two of the series. However, UCSB bounced back in the series finale, with a 5-3 win backed by senior lefty Chuck Huggins.

The Rotation
For the weekend, the Gauchos will turn to their strong starting rotation of Ford, Hollands, and Huggins against Riverside. Sophomore ace Mike Ford (5-4) gets the ball in the series opener on Friday. Although he earned the loss, Ford pitched brilliantly in his last outing, allowing only three runs on five hits in eight innings of work. Ford made only one mistake, allowing a two-run home run in the bottom of the third inning. Redshirt freshman Mario Hollands (6-2) gets the nod in game two. The El Cerrito, Calif., native got roughed up in his last outing, allowing five runs in three innings of work. Senior Chuck Huggins (8-2) mans the bump in the series finale. In his last outing, the Redwood City, Calif., native gave the Gauchos a gutsy 7.2 inning effort. Huggins led the Gauchos to a much needed win against Long Beach, allowing only three runs on nine hits.

Senior Day
Sunday's series finale marks the final home game for seven departing seniors: Michael Martin, Kyle Brown, Chuck Huggins, Matt McColgan, Patrick Rose, Chris Fox, and Mike Zuanich. Martin, the Gauchos' senior statesman, leaves the program after six strong years. For McColgan, who was granted his redshirt year last season, the end of 2008 marks his fourth year with UCSB, after transferring in 2006 from Santa Clara University.

Fantastic Ford
Mike Ford is 5-4 on the year, having al lowed only 28 earned runs in 84.2 innings of work. Ford's 2.98 ERA is good for fifth among all BWC pitchers. The flame- throwing right-hander has struck out 71 batters on the year, an average of nearly six a game. The Scottsdale, Ariz., native has pitched at least seven innings in his last five starts, including three eight inning efforts, and one complete game. On the year, Ford has tossed three CGs, as batters are hitting a measily .228 against.

Potential Starters - Notes
C - Chris McMurray- Second on the team with seven home runs.
1B - Eric Oliver- Leads the team in walks (24) and runs scored (50).
2B - Gunnar Terhune- Went 6-for-11 last week with two walks and two runs scored.
3B - Patrick Rose- First on the Gauchos with a .431 OBP, and .344 batting average.
SS - Shane Carlson- Second in RBI (46) and doubles (12).
LF - Mike Zuanich- Leads team in home runs (12), RBI (49), and slugging (.535).
CF - Chris Fox- Batting .344 with 40 runs scored and 21 stolen bases.
RF - Brian Gump- Ranks sixth in hits (72) and fifth in runs (46) in the entire BWC.
DH - Jon DeAlba - Reaches base safely 48% of the time when leading off an inning.

Offensive Assault
UCSB is first in the Big West Conference in five offensive categories: Slugging percentage (.476), runs (363), RBI (335), home runs (50), and total bases (841). In addition, the Gau- chos are second in the BWC in three other categories: batting average (.316), hits (559), and at-bats (1768). The Gaucho attack has scored 363 runs in 50 games, an average of 7.3 runs per game. Remarkably, UCSB has scored 10 or more runs 12 times this season, including 23-run and 25-run outbursts.

Super Mario
Redshirt freshman Mario Hollands is learning quickly as the Gauchos No. 2 starter. In Saturday's 10-8 loss to Long Beach, Hollands suffered his shortest outing as a Gaucho, lasting only three in nings. Still, in 12 starts the southpaw is 6-2 with a sterling 3.47 ERA. The El Cerrito, Calif., native places eighth in the BWC in ERA, and first in home runs allowed (2). In addition, Hollands is sporting an im pressive 51-to-21 strikeout to walk ratio. Amazingly, only 21 of the 76 hits allowed by Mario have been for extra bases.

Huggy Bear
Senior Chuck Huggins is the best Sunday starter in the conference. With his gutsy effort on Sunday, Huggins sits in fourth place in the BWC in wins with eight. Against USC on 4/20 Huggins tossed a complete game shutout, striking out seven and walking three. The Redwood City, Calif., native owns a 71-to-23 strikeout to walk ratio thus far. Huggins is sixth in opponents batting average (.244), sixth in strikeouts (71), and ninth in hits allowed (70). Opponents are batting a measily .248 with runners on against Huggins, while left-handed hitters are batting .204 in 93 at-bats.

Shane Brings The Pain
After making the switch from shortstop to second base to begin the year, Shane Carlson moved back to short after second baseman Matt Valaika went down to in jury. The Stevenson Ranch, Calif., native had an 18-game hitting streak from Feb. 22 to Mar. 16. In eight of those 18 games, Carlson had multi-hit performances. Carlson drove in six runs in four games last week, upping his RBI total to 46 on the year. In addition, the silky shortstop made several phenomenal plays in the hole against LBSU over the weekend. Carlson owns an impressive .971 fielding percentage in 244 chances.

Senior Mike Zuanich has provided much of the power for the Gauchos thus far. The left fielder has started all 50 games this year, hitting out of the cleanup spot. The Torrance, Calif., native ranks first on the Gauchos in every offensive power category: Slugging percentage (.535), RBI (49), and home runs (12). Against Westmont on 4/15 Zuanich had a career day, launching three home runs in a 4-for-6 effort, with four runs scored and six RBI. The slugger ranks within the top five in the BWC in three offensive categories: Second in home runs, third in sac flies (6), and fourth in RBI. As of late, Zuanich's offensive power surge has subsided, going 4-for-16 with one run scored and three RBI over the last four games.

Gump The Great
Junior Brian Gump has been invaluable to the Gauchos batting out of the leadoff spot and playing in the outfield. The sweet-swining lefty ranks within the top eight in the Big West Conference in an astounding six different offensive categories: First in both plate appearances and at-bats, Second stolen bases, Sixth in hits, Fifth in runs scored, and Ninth in total bases. In addition, Gump's .991 fielding percentage is good for seventh among all BWC fielders. On 5/27 against Cal Poly Gump led a thrilling come-from- behind win by smacking a two-out grand slam in the top of the ninth inning. Gump added a two-run double, and a two-run triple in Saturday's loss to LBSU.

Orange Oliver
Orange Coast College transfer Eric Oliver has been a key piece to the Gauchos' ear ly season success. The Irvine, Calif., native has started all 50 games for the Gauchos at first base, while hitting out of the three hole. He ranks within the top five on the team in 10 different offensive categories. Oliver is third in the BWC in runs scored (50), and seventh in both walks, plate ap pearances, and at-bats. The Irvine, Calif,. native has also fielded his position with ease as his .990 fielding percentage places him eighth in the BWC.

The Steal Curtain
UCSB is third in stolen bases in the Big West with 75. An impressive feat consid ering UCSB recorded only 45 successful swipes all of last year. In addition, the Gauchos stolen base success rate has increased dramatically thus far, with a 78% (75-96) success rate in 2008, com pared to a 64% (45-70) rate in the 2007 campaign.

Three's Company
The starting rotation of Ford, Hollands, and Huggins is 19-8 on the year in 36 starts with a combined ERA of 3.46. The threesome owns an extraordinary 193-to-79 strikeout to walk ratio. Not to mention, the trio has pitched at least six innings of work in 27 of their 36 starts thus far, including five complete games: three from Ford, and one each from Hollands and Huggins. Five complete games places the Gauchos in a tie for second in the BWC in complete games with UC Davis, and one behind Long Beach (6).

Fox Facts
Senior Chris Fox, an All-Big West Honorable Mention selection in 2007, has picked up where he left off last season, providing speed and power out of the two hole for the Gauchos. Fox leads the team in batting (.344), and triples (4), and is second in hits (67), and steals (21). His four triples, 67 hits, and 21 stolen bases all rank within the top ten in the BWC. With runners on, the Redondo Beach, Calif., native is batting a red-hot .426. The lefty is feasting upon right-handed pitching, batting a solid .364 in 140 at-bats.

Red-Hot Rose
Senior third baseman Patrick Rose is the leader of the Gaucho infield. The Laguna Niguel, Calif., native upped his batting average 8 points over the weekend, and is now hitting .344. In addition, Rose has eight doubles, three triples, and 23 RBI. While manning the hot corner, Rose has recorded 15 multi-hit games, including five three-hit perfomances, and one four-hit effort. Rose is first on the team in on-base percentage (.431), and is second on the team in walks (22).

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 as sistant and two as a player. 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, go ing 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. Most recently, Brontsema earned his 400th career vic tory at UCSB with the thrilling 5-3 win over Cal Poly on April 27th.

Get The Door, It's DeAlba
Junior transfer Jon DeAlba has had an immediate impact on the Gauchos success. After winning MVP of the Western State Conference with the Santa Barbara City College Va- queros in 2007, the speedy outfielder has paid immediate dividends. The talented lefty has 29 hits in 34 games played, with 18 runs scored and nine doubles. After missing three weeks of action with a wrist injury, DeAlba's RBI single in the ninth inning of April 27th's victory over Cal Poly ignited a five-run rally.

Season Highs

AB - 53 vs. UC Davis (4/13)
RUNS - 25 vs. Westmont (4/15)
HITS - 29 vs. Westmont (4/15)
RBI - 24 vs. Westmont (4/15)
2B - 6 vs. Westmont (4/15)
3B - 3 vs. Marist (2/23)
HR - 6 vs. Westmont (4/15)
BB - 10 vs. USC (4/19)
SB - 7 vs. USC (4/18)
CS - 2 vs. CS Fullerton (5/2)
HBP - 5 vs. USC (4/19)
SAC - 2 @ LBSU (5/11)
SF - 3 vs. Westmont (3/25)
GDP - 3 @ LBSU (5/9)
K - 18 @ UCLA (2/27)
PO - 37 @ UCLA (2/27)
A - 17 @ UCLA (2/27)
E - 4 vs. Westmont (4/15)