Former Gaucho Chris Valaika Shines in Pro Ball

June 23, 2006

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - Former Gaucho shortstop Chris Valaika batted two-for-four with a double, a home run, a run scored and two RBI in a 5-3 Billings Mustangs (rookie affiliate of the Cincinnati Reds organization) loss to the Great Falls White Sox on Thursday in Billings, Mont. Valaika, who is no stranger to the long ball after blasting ten for the Gauchos in 2006, connected for his first professional hit and home run in the fourth inning of the game on Thursday.

Valaika, a native of Valencia, Calif., was selected 84th overall in the 2006 June Amateur Draft earlier this month. Valaika's third round selection is the second highest that any UCSB baseball player has ever been taken in the June Amateur Draft. Maury Ornest was drafted in the second round of the 1980 June Amateur Draft.

In 2006, Valaika was a First Team All-Big West Conference selection a year after sitting out the majority of the 2005 season with an injured knee. In addition, the star shortstop was second on the team in terms of batting average with a .335 mark and his 57 RBIs led the Big West. As a Gaucho rookie in 2004, Valaika was a Freshman All-American as well as the Big West's Freshman of the Year.