Gauchos Will Complete 2007 Season at Home; Fox, Blauer Carry Lengthy Hitting Streaks into Wednesday Game Against USC
May 22, 2007
Games No. 51-54
Wednesday, May 23 - 2:00 p.m. (PDT)
UC Santa Barbara vs. USC
Caesar Uyesaka Stadium
Friday, May 25 - 2:00 p.m. (PDT)
Saturday, May 26 - 1:00 p.m. (PDT)
Sunday, May 27 - 1:00 p.m. (PDT)
UC Santa Barbara vs. Cal Poly
Caesar Uyesaka Stadium
The Gaucho Record
UC Santa Barbara enters its final week of the season with an overall record of 23-27 and a Big West mark of 9-9. UCSB split four games last week, dropping a non-conference game at USC and then claiming two out of three from UC Davis, which will join the Big West Conference next year. The Gauchos are currently tied with Cal State Fullerton for fifth in the conference standings, one game back of this weekend's opponent, Cal Poly. If Santa Barbara can win at least two of three games against the Mustangs, it would finish over the .500 mark in conference for the first time since 2001.
What's On Tap
The Gauchos will play USC for the second time in as many weeks when it hosts the Trojans on Wednesday. USC will enter the game with an overall record of 26-26 and a Pac Ten record of 8-11. The Trojans are guided by first-year head coach and former Major Leaguer Chad Kreuter. They defeated UCSB by a score of 7-5 at Dedeaux Field on Wednesday, May 16. Cal Poly enters the week with a 29-24 overall record and a 10-8 mark in the Big West. Last weekend the Mustangs took two out of three home games from Cal State Fullerton. Offensively, they are paced by the right fielder Grant Desme who leads the Big West in batting average (.405), home runs (15), RBI (53), on base percentage (.494) and slugging percentage (.753). He is second in the league in hits (79) and third in runs scored (54). Center fielder Schafer Logan is batting .327 and third baseman Brent Morel is batting .322 with a team-leading 38 runs scored. Right handed pitcher Tom Eager is Cal Poy's top pitcher. He will enter his Sunday start with a 10-3 record and a 3.43 ERA. Reliever Evan Reed is the ace out of the bullpen with a recorrd of 4-3 and a 10 saves in 30 appearances.
Seniors Play Final Games For Gauchos
Sunday's season-finale against Cal Poly will also mark the final appearance in Gaucho uniforms for 12, that's right 12, UCSB players. Listing them alphabetically, Santa Barbara will bid adieu to Matt Anderson, Justin Aspegren, Robbie Blauer, Jeff Braun, Bryan Fleming, Mario Lewis, Michael Martin, Matt McColgan, Steve Morlock, Justin Segal, Clayton Shank and Brian Tracy. Try saying that in one breath. The seniors will be saluted prior to Sunday's game, which is scheduled to begin at 1:00 p.m.
Gauchos Go 2-2 In Mixed Week
The Gauchos went 2-2 in non-conference games last week. On Wednesday, despite getting nine hits from the top three players in the batting order, UCSB dropped a 7-5 game at USC. Center fielder Chris Fox collected four hits, while second baseman Patrick Rose had three and first baseman Robbie Blauer had a pair. On Friday, the Gauchos opened a three-game series at UC Davis. Freshman Mike Ford pitched well again (7.0 innings, nine hits and no earned runs), but UCSB squandered a 2-0 lead before scoring a run in the top of the ninth for a 3-2 win. In game two of the series, the Gauchos built a 5-0 lead after two innings, but the Aggies responded with five runs of their own in the bottom of the second to tie the score. UCSB then scored six unanswered runs to take an 11-5 lead and held on for an 11-8 win. Rose was a perfect 3-for-3 in the win and shortstop Shane Carlson was 3-for-5. Justin Aspegren collected his first win of the season and Justin Segal earned his eighth save. In the final game of the series on Sunday, UC Davis salvaged one by tagging UCSB starter Jeff Braun for nine hits and seven runs (six earned) in just three innings. Despite seven more hits from the top three in the lineup, the Aggies defeated the Gauchos, 8-6.
Senior right hander Justin Aspegren, who registered his first win of the season on Saturday at UC Davis, will make his first start as a Gaucho in Wednesday's game against USC. Aspegren had made 16 appearances this season and has a 1-0 record with a 7.13 ERA. While he has allowed just 13 hits and has struck out 18 in 17.2 innings, control has been an issue as he also has 18 walks. Freshman Mike Ford will pitch on Friday. He has developed into the team's most consistent starter and is 2-1 with a 5.31 ERA. He leads the team in innings pitched (76.1) and strikeouts (64). Senior Brian Tracy will get the nod on Saturday. He enters the week with a 1-3 record and a team-leading 4.38 ERA. Control has been a problem with Tracy as well. He has walked 37 batters in 51.1 innings of work. Of his 17 appearances, seven have been starts. In the season finale on Sunday, the Gauchos will go with senior left hander Jeff Braun. Braun has a 2-7 record with a 6.38 ERA, but prior to his last outing on Sunday at UC Davis, he had produced several straight solid starts.
Potential Starters - Notes
C/DH - Matt Anderson - Has five RBI in his last two appearances.
C - Chris McMurray - Has thrown out 31 of 69 would-be base stealers.
1B - Robbie Blauer - Has collected hits in 47 of 50 games.
2B - Patrick Rose - Has hit in 16 of the last 17 and has three hits in three of the last four.
3B - Gunnar Terhune - Had his first extra base hit of the season last week at USC.
SS - Shane Carlson - Is batting a season-high .268 on the year, .449 in the last 14 games.
LF - Mike Zuanich - Enters the week with a seven-game hitting streak.
CF - Chris Fox - Has a 22-game hitting streak, going 36-for-93 (.387) over that span.
RF - Mario Lewis - Went 5-for-9 in the last two games at UC Davis, .556.
RF - Brian Gump - Has collected seven hits in his last 17 at bats (.412).
DH - Cody Dee - Leads all UCSB freshmen in batting average at .303.
SP - Brian Tracy - Leads the team with a 4.38 ERA.
SP - Mike Ford - In his last two games, he has gone 14.2 innings and allowed three earned runs.
SP - Jeff Braun - Has gone 5.0 innings in five of his last six appearances.
SP - Justin Aspegren - Had his first win of the season at UC Davis, will make first start vs. USC.
RP - Justin Segal - His 15 career saves ranks third on UCSB's all-time list.
The Bob Brontsema File
2007 marks the 26th year of head coach Bob Brontsema's involvement in the UCSB baseball program. He is now in his 14th season as head coach after ten years as an assistant and two as a player. Brontsema's career record is 371-375-2 (.497). 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 .702 winning percentage in 2001 ranks as the third highest 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 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, which saw him earn career win number 200 with a 7-2 victory over UC Riverside. A 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 UCSB career wins, came May 12, 2006 in an 8-6 win over Long Beach State.
Brontsema Moves Up
Head coach Bob Brontsema enters the series against Long Beach State with 151 coaching victories in Big West Conference play. The 151 wins puts him eight ahead of UNLV's Fred Dallimore for fifth on the league's all-time list. Brontsema needs 15 more league wins to catch former Cal State Fullerton head coach Augie Garrido.
It Starts At The Top
UCSB's offense has emerged in the final weeks of the 2007 season and one of the primary reasons is the top of the batting order. Generally, the Gauchos have gone with center fielder Chris Fox in the leadoff slot, second baseman Patrick Rose in the number two spot and first baseman Robbie Blauer batting third. The trio was particularly effective in the four games last week. In the game against USC and three against UC Davis, the Fox-Rose-Blauer trio combined for 23 hits in 47 at bats a .489 batting average. In addition, the group had 14 runs scored, 11 RBI, four doubles and six base on balls. They combined for a .547 on base percentage.
First baseman Robbie Blauer began the season by hitting in 23 straight games, extending a two-season streak to 24 in a row. Blauer is one of two Gauchos who will carry a lengthy hitting streak into Wednesday's game against USC. Junior center fielder Chris Fox enters the week with a 22-game hitting streak and Blauer has an 18-game streak. Third baseman-turned-second baseman Patrick Rose had collected hits in 14 straight games prior to the first game of the series at UC Davs. He was hitless in that game, but then bounced back with six hits in the next two games. He has now hit in 16 of 17. A third UCSB player, left fielder Mike Zuanich, has a modest seven-game streak.
Since his 24-game hitting streak ended on March 28, first baseman Robbie Blauer has gone into a tailspin. NOT! He has collected hits in 24 of the 26 games since the end of the streak, including the last 18 in a row. Overall this season, he has hits in 47 of 50 games. Blauer leads the Gauchos and is second in the Big West Conference with a .398 batting average and a .481 on base percentage. While he is batting .398 on the year, Blauer has gone 28-of-69, .406, during his current 18-game hitting streak. Beginning with the Long Beach State series two weeks ago, he has gone 13-of-29, .448, in his last seven games. Blauer collected a career-high four hits on March 4 against Kansas State. He has had three or more hits nine times this season and he has had 21 mutiple-hit games. Finally, in 244 plate appearances, the Huntington Beach, Calif., native has fanned just 10 times, or once every 24.4 times at the plate, the best mark on the team. Blauer has not struck out in his last eight games nor his last 40 plate appearances.
Junior center fielder Chris Fox enters Wednesday's game against USC with a .333 batting average. He also enters the series with the longest current hitting streak of any Gaucho. Fox has collected at least one hit in 22 consecutive games and in that time he has elevated his batting average from .284 to its current .333. In the 22 games, he has gone 36-of-93, .387. Also, in the last 22, Fox has walked 11 times and been hit by a pitch, giving him an on base percentage of .457. Fox has two or more hits 16 times this season, including nine times during his current 22-game hitting streak. He recorded a career-high four hits in last week's game at USC. Fox is has also taken-over sole possession of the team-lead tied in runs scored with 38. In addition, he paces the team with 14 stolen bases in 20 attempts, including one in Saturday's game at UC Davis.
Freshman Mike Ford has been one of UCSB's most consistent pitchers this season. While he has just three decisions and a a 2-1 record with a 5.31 ERA, he has kept the Gauchos in most games. Ford enters the week tied for the team-lead with 12 starts and he leads the team with 76.1 innings pitched. He also paces the team with 64 strikeouts, 22 more than his next closest Gaucho. On Friday at UC Davis, Ford hurled 7.0 innings and allowed nine hits and just one run, it was unearned. While he didn't pile-up strikeouts at the same rate he did when he whiffed 10 Long Beach State batters a week earlier, he did have a pair and he walked just two batters. In his last two outings, Ford has thrown 14.2 innings while allowing 17 hits, five runs, three earned. He has a solid 1.86 ERA in his last two games, but he only has two no decisions to show for it. He has 33 strikeouts in his last five appearances, a span of 33.1 innings, and he is on-target to become the first freshman to lead UCSB in strikeouts since Barry Zito did so in 1997. Most impressively perhaps, in a year when Gaucho pitchers have fallen like flies, Ford has pitched at least 5.2 innings in nine of his 12 starts, including each of the last eight. In fact, he has gone 6.0 or more in five straight.
A Thorn In The Side Of Pitchers>
Junior Patrick Rose, who had become the Gauchos' regular third baseman with a stellar run over several weeks, has made the shift to second base because of Matt Valaika's hand injury. Whether at second or third, Rose has been on fire recently, hitting in 16 of the last 17 games. In fact, when he went hitless in the series opener at UC Davis on Friday, it ended a career-best 14-game hitting streak. Still, in the last 17, the Laguna Niguel, Calif., native has gone 30-for-72, .417, to improve his overall average to .322. Actually, since he bottomed-out at .190 after an 0-for-3 outing on April 5 at UC Riverside, Rose has improved his average by more than 130 points over 22 games by going 34-of-85, .400 In fact, in 18 Big West games, Rose is batting .351, second on the team to Robbie Blauer. His 27 hits in league games are the most of any Gaucho. Rose has a career-high three hits six times, including three of the last four games, and he has 16 multiple-hit games, including 10 during the current 17-game stretch and 13 times during his 22-game surge.
Shane On You
Sophomore shortstop Shane Carlson has become a legitimate offensive threat as the 2007 season has progressed. He enters the week with a batting average of .268, but he has hit in three straight and eight of the last nine. After an 0-for-3 performance against UC Irvine on April 21, Carlson was batting just .185, but in the 14 games since he has been on fire, collecting 22 hits in 49 at bats, .449. Also in the 14 games, he has four doubles, two triples and five walks. His on base percentage is .531 and he has had five three-hit games. Carlson opened the season by going hitless in his first 15 at bats, but since then he has gone 42-of-142, .296.
Be Like Mike
Junior left fielder Mike Zuanich has been one of the most consistent UCSB batters this season. He enters the final week with a .304 batting average. He opened the year by going 1-for-3 at San Jose State and he has dropped below the .300 mark for just one nine-game stretch at mid-season. He has hit in seven straight games , collecting two hits in three of the games. Zuanich has also been a dependable bat behind Robbie Blauer, htting in the clean-up spot in 48 of the Gauchos' 50 games. He is second on the team with 36 RBI and 35 runs scored and his 15 extra base hits ranks third to Blauer and injured freshman Matt Valaika.
Senior right fielder Mario Lewis has bounced back from a minor slump that saw his batting average fall to .268. He has enters his final week as a Gaucho having hit in four straight and six of seven. He has gone 10-for-27, .370, in the last seven games. In the series finale at UC Davis, Lewis had a season-high three hits giving him five, in nine at bats, in the last two games of the series. Also, while he has not homered since April 27 at Cal State Northridge, he remains tied for the team-lead with six circuit clouts.