May 19, 2004

UCSB Travels to Cal Poly With Post-Season On the Line

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May 19, 2004

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. -
FIRST PITCH: For the first time in three years, UC Santa Barbara will enter the final weekend of its season will realistic post-season chances on the line. With a 9-9 Big West record and 32 overall wins, UCSB sits in fourth place in the conference - one game behind UC Riverside and one game ahead of UC Irvine and this weekend's opponent Cal Poly. With six 30+ win teams in the Big West for only the sixth time in conference history, the battle for an NCAA Regional will be a tight one. With a sweep, the Gauchos would finish with 35 wins and only once has the school had that many victories in a season and not made the playoffs (1985).

On Deck
May 21-23 // UC Santa Barbara @ Cal Poly Mustangs at Mustang Stadium in San Luis, Obispo, Calif.
Friday at 6 p.m.: RHP Michael Martin (9-3, 4.94) vs. RHP Jimmy Shull (8-5, 4.29)
Saturday at 1 p.m.: RHP Andy Graham (4-4, 4.96) vs. LHP Garrett Olson (7-5, 5.36)
Sunday at 1 p.m.: RHP Steve Morlock (7-4, 4.66) vs. RHP Jonathan Fleming (4-1, 3.02)

Pacific Snaps UCSB's Eight-Game Win Streak, Takes Two From Gauchos
Two late-inning rallies led the Tigers to a 2-1 series win over the Gauchos last weekend. Pacific, which used a bases-loaded sacrifice fly in the tenth inning on Friday to defeat UCSB 4-3, then stormed back with a ninth-inning walk-off home run on Saturday. Pacific's Aaron Harper was the hero both days as he lifted the run-scoring fly on Friday and then launched the solo shot for the 5-4 win on Saturday. On Sunday, Santa Barbara salvaged the finale and improved its record on Sundays to 8-2. UCSB's Steve Morlock improved to 7-4 and extended his unbeaten streak to ten games with seven strong innings on the mound. Morlock allowed just one unearned run on three hits in his 15th start of the season. Junior catcher Matt Kalafatis tallied five hits over the weekend for UCSB (.455). His 3-for-4 performance, coupled with Matt Emerick's two RBI on Friday kept the Gauchos in the game until the end. In Saturday's loss, senior Nate Sutton racked up a season-high four hits and scored three runs, including the game-tying run in the ninth. On Sunday, Taylor Vogt's RBI single to left field provided the winning margin as the Gauchos escaped the sweep. The Gaucho bullpen continued to dominate, posting a 2.45 collective ERA in 11 innings pitched. However, the Tigers' relief corp fared even better, allowing just one earned run over 7.2 innings for a 1.17 ERA.

Santa Barbara Takes Season Series From Waves With 10-3 Win In Make-Up Game
Junior right-fielder Matt Wilkerson launched two more home runs Tuesday afternoon as UC Santa Barbara cruised to its eighth straight win, 10-3 over Pepperdine at Caesar Uyesaka Stadium. Wilkerson drove in a career high six RBI, highlighted by his school-record third grand slam of the season, and freshman Brian Tracy (2-1) pitched five effective innings for his second win of the season.

Gauchos On the Air
UCSB Baseball can be heard this weekend on AM 990 KTMS on Friday at 6 p.m. and on AM 1340 KTLK on Saturday and Sunday. The voice of the Gauchos, Brock Bowling, will be on the call this weekend along with KEYT-TV's Gerry Fall. Sunday's game is also scheduled to be carried by Santa Barbara's 91.9 FM KCSB with Danny MacLeith and Oskar Garcia, pending the results of Gaucho Softball in Tucson, Arizona.

The Brontsema File
Bob Brontsema is in his 11th season as head coach of the UC Santa Barbara baseball program. Last year Brontsema logged his 250th victory, becoming the third coach in school history to do so, and also cementing himself as the third winningest coach in UCSB history. He enters this season with a career mark of 263-269. Brontsema's team ended the 2003 season 25-28 overall and 8-13 in Big West Conference play. Brontsema's has been selected twice as Big West Coach of the Year. In 2001, his team finished with a mark of 40-17, good for a .701 winning percentage, the highest in school history. Brontsema's 2001 squad also had 10 players sign professional contracts after the season. Brontsema was also selected as Big West Coach of the Year in 1996, when he piloted UCSB to a 32-20 overall mark. He also ranks second in wins among all active Big West coaches, behind only George Horton of Cal State Fullerton.

Gaucho Probables on the Mound
FRIDAY
Michael Martin (RHP)
Record: 9-3 ERA: 4.94
Looking to become first Gaucho with ten wins since 2001.

SATURDAY
Andy Graham (RHP)
Record: 4-4 ERA: 4.96
Has not lost since April 14 against UC Riverside.

SUNDAY
Steve Morlock (RHP)
Record: 7-4 ERA: 4.66
Has ten game unbeaten streak; tossed seven effective innings in win against Pacific last weekend.

About Cal Poly
Cal Poly has lost nine of its last twelve games, but is coming off a recent sweep of Big West opponent Cal State Northridge last weekend. The Mustangs (36-22-1, 8-10 Big West) are tied for fourth in the conference with UC Irvine and are still clinging to the hopes of a post-season berth. Led by Brandon Roberts, the conference's second leading hitter, the Mustangs have a team .312 batting average. Roberts is hitting .385 with 84 hits and 41 RBI and had a 25-game hitting streak earlier this season. Sam Herbert and Chalon Tietje also provide an offensive force for Cal Poly as the two have combined for 175 hits and 102 runs scored. Bret Burgland leads the squad with nine home runs. On the mound, Friday's starter Jimmy Shull is 8-5 with a 4.29 ERA. In the Mustangs' 8-2 win over UCSB on March 12, Shull tossed an impressive eight innings, allowing just two runs on three hits while striking out seven. On Saturday, UCSB will see southpaw Garrett Olson, who on March 13 against the Gauchos struck out 13 is 6.1 innings of work. Olson is 7-5 with a 5.36 ERA this season. Jonathan Fleming will take the mound on Sunday. Fleming is 4-1 with a 3.02 ERA and has yet to face the Gauchos this season.

Gauchos vs. Mustangs
In the 172 games played between UCSB and Cal Poly, the Gauchos have claimed victory in 99 of them. Since the Mustangs moved to Division 1 for the 1995 season, UCSB holds a 24-19 advantage over Cal Poly. Earlier this season, Cal Poly defeated the Gauchos two out of three games in a non-conference series. The Mustangs took the final two games of the home-away-home series played from March 11 to March 13. In the opener, Michael Martin won his fifth game as UCSB edged the Mustangs 8-3. Second baseman Chris Malec drove in three RBI and Greg Powers drove in two. Eight different Mustang hurlers combined to surrender eleven hits. On Saturday and Sunday of that weekend, it was Cal Poly's pitching that carried the Mustangs over UCSB 8-2 and 5-4. The Gauchos were held to just nine hits in the final two games.

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 .340 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 51 games this season, Valaika has only made 11 errors at shortstop, good for a .962 fielding percentage. He also leads the Big West in assists with 187. With four hits this weekend, Valaika will tie teammate Chris Malec for most hits by a freshman in Gaucho history with 75.

GAUCHOS AGAINST THE NATION: UCSB has only committed 51 errors in 51games so far this season. The Gauchos team fielding percentage of .975 is good for 11th best in the entire nation. Offensively the Gauchos are also turning heads around the country. UCSB's Nate Sutton is helping to lead the Gauchos' offensive charge with 1.31 runs scored per game, the eighth best mark in Division 1 NCAA baseball.

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 on May 3 after he helped lead the Gauchos to their three-game sweep of Long Beach State. 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 is the first Gaucho to receive the honor since James Garcia on May 7, 2001.

UCSB NAMED TEAM OF THE WEEK: After sweeping a Big West series at fourth-ranked Long Beach State, the UC Santa Barbara Gauchos was honored as 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.

ACCORDING TO BOYD: Boyd's World, a college baseball website featuring alternative statistics and rankings to the mainstream polls, lists UCSB as the 44th 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 76th with a .532 "pseudo-RPI" ranking.

GAUCHOS FEATURED IN SPORTS ILLUSTRATED: In the Thursday, May 10, 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.

WILD FINISHES: Santa Barbara has outscored its opponents 411-269 so far this season. More notably, in the final three innings of games UCSB is outscoring opponents 126-66, nearly doubling the oppositions totals. Perhaps that is why 16 of the Gauchos' 32 wins have behind of the come-from-behind variety.

A TRIO OF RELIEF: UCSB's top three relievers, Alex McRobbie, Loren Fraser and Ivan Ramirez have combined to post a combined 2.04 season ERA. The three are 7-3 and have allowed just 28 earned runs in 124 innings pitched. In Big West play, the trio has allowed just seven earned runs over 58.1 conference innings, good for a 1.08 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. On Friday, May 7, UCSB set another record when the Gauchos stranded 19 runners on base against Cal State Northridge. The previous record was 18 set in 2003.

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 391 runs scored and 352 team RBI after 47 games. Santa Barbara has also been collecting bases on balls at a torrid pace. The team's 234 walks is nearly one hundred 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 for UCSB baseball.