August 28, 2008

Gardner, Ford Sizzle in Baseball Summer Leagues

Aug. 28, 2008

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - Paced by Joe Gardner, named the co-Player of the Year in the Alaskan League, there were several UC Santa Barbara baseball players who shined in their respective summer leagues.

Gardner, however, had the best summer of all while Mike Ford easily had the best singular game by a Gaucho player.

The right-handed Gardner, who will arrive at UCSB after two years at Ohlone College, pitched for the Peninsula Oilers in Kenai, Alaska. The 6-foot-5, 200-pound Gardner completed the regular season with a perfect 6-0 record and a sparkling 0.92 earned run average. He made 10 appearances for the Oilers, including nine starts, hurled 48 2/3 innings and allowed just 33 hits. In addition to his selection as co-Player of the Year, he was named to the Alaska League All-Star First Team. Gardner was also named the third-best prospect in the league.

A group of Gauchos were part of the National Baseball Congress World Series-winning Santa Barbara Foresters, led by the right-handed Ford.

The 6-foot-3 Ford, likely the Gauchos' Friday starter this season, pitched a complete-game shutout in the World Series finale, giving the Foresters their second NBC title in three years. Ford tossed a five-hit shutout, striking out nine while walking just one in the 2-0 victory over the Seattle Studs, part of his impressive summer.

Ford, who led UCSB with 82 innings pitched last season, pitched eight innings of relief in the Foresters' third game in Wichita, KS, relieving in the first and allowing Santa Barbara to come back for an 11-6 win.

"Those games are reflective of the type of big-game pitcher Mike can be," said UCSB assistant coach Tom Myers, who is also the Gauchos' pitching coach.

Ford finished with a 2-2 record and 4.13 ERA in 32 2/3 innings, striking out 32 while walking just 15.

Eric Oliver, an upcoming senior, was a California Collegiate League All-League selection and also was selected as the league's Best Defensive First Baseman as well as Best Strike Zone Judgment. It showed. Oliver batted .346 in 42 games, knocking in a team-high 37 runs, hitting three homers and a team-best 14 doubles while slugging at a .529 clip.

Steve Cook, who will also be a senior, was named the California Collegiate League's Best Defensive Second Baseman but he was also one of the Foresters best hitters. Cook batted .322 with five doubles, one homer, 16 RBI and had an on-base percentage of .402. He was also successful on all seven of his stolen base attempts. Cook was named to the NBC World Series All-America team.

Along with Ford, Clayton Edwards helped the Foresters. The junior right-hander appeared in 14 games going 1-1 with a 3.10 ERA in 20 1/3 innings pitched. He struck out 14 hitters and allowed opponents a .208 batting average.

Incoming freshman Chris Joyce made three starts, pitched in seven total games, and went 2-1 with a 3.71 ERA. He struck out 29 batters in 17 innings.

Among the CCL's top prospects, Ford ranked seventh, Joyce ranked 11th and Oliver was 30th. Joyce was a 10th-round pick of the Los Angeles Dodgers, but will come to UCSB.

Playing in the elite Cape Cod League, left-hander Mario Hollands, due to be a sophomore, compiled a 2.86 ERA in nine outings, six of them starts. Despite going 0-2 for the Coutit Kettleers, Hollands, who redshirted in 2007, struck out 21 batters in 28 1/3 innings. The 6-foot-5 southpaw is scheduled to be one of the Gauchos' weekend starters.

Two members of UCSB's team played in the Northwoods League for the Rochester Honkers. Right-handed pitcher Jesse Meaux, an upcoming sophomore, went 2-0 in 18 relief appearances, compiling a 6.04 ERA. Meaux had two saves in 28 1/3 innings.

Outfielder Brian Gump joined Meaux on the team, batting .254 with 10 doubles, a home run and 19 RBI. Gump, a junior, had 21 stolen bases and scored 32 runs in 43 games.

Playing against them in the Northwoods League was infielder Ryan Cavan, who saw time with Green Bay. Cavan batted .322, tops on the Bullfrogs, in 47 games and was one of Green Bay's better players. He was second on the team in RBI with 35 and also walks with 31. Cavan stole 15 bases, third-most, and he compiled the fourth-most at-bats and scored the fourth-most runs on the team.

Joining Gardner in the Alaskan League was catcher Marty Mullins, a transfer from West Valley College. While batting .259 with 12 RBI, it was behind the plate that Mullins did the most damage. Of the 22 runners who attempted to steal on Mullins, he threw out 13.

An All-Western Collegiate League Honorable Mention, shortstop Shane Carlson batted .267 in 35 games - 33 starts - for Bend Oregon. Carlson, a junior, led the team in doubles with 11, had a home run and 28 RBI and posted a .367 on-base percentage while stealing six bags.

Right-hander Greg Davis, a 6-foot-3 sophomore, went 2-0 with a 3.72 ERA in the Cal Ripken Sr. League. Playing with the Maryland Orioles, Davis struck out 19 hitters in 19 1/3 innings while walking just four hitters and he didn't allow a home run in any of his outings.

Two players, Zach Samuels and Mark Haddow, played for the Maxim Yankees, a team that finished seventh at the NBC World Series. Haddow played in 29 games - starting 23 - and batted .278 with seven RBI, two stolen bases and the outfielder was flawless in the field, handling all 27 chances without an error. Samuels appeared in one game, tossing two scoreless innings while walking one and striking out one.

Gunnar Terhune played for the Vienna Senators, and started 24 games, playing in 25 overall. The junior infielder hit .238 and scored 18 runs. He stole seven bases in eight attempts, had two homers and drove in 12 runs.

Finally, Forest Cannon, due to be a sophomore, pitched in the Hawaiian Collegiate League, compiling a 3.45 ERA in seven appearances, four of them starts. He went 0-1 but struck out 17 hitters in 15 2/3 innings while walking seven.