Jan. 29, 2001
Release No. 1 (Movie Title Edition)
The Usual Suspects
One thing's for sure, Gaucho baseball in 2001 will be no mystery. UCSB will field a lineup suspiciously similar to that of its 2000 campaign, as head coach Bob Brontsema returns nine starters and threepitchers who saw significant innings a year ago. Included in his strong contingent of returnees is an infield featuring three All-Big West selections and three seniors.
First Team All-Big West selections Dave Molidor (Sr.) and Tyler Von Schell (Jr.) and Honorable Mention choice Chad Peshke (Sr.) make up the first Gaucho trio of returning All-Conference infielders since 1992. One of the three players led UCSB hitters in every statistical category except home runs in 2001. The Gaucho home run leader last season is the fourth member of this year's infield, Jeff Bannon (Sr.). 25 of Bannon's 49 hits went for extra bases, tying him with Peshke for the team lead in multi-base knocks. Peshke's 20 doubles were the sixth-highest single season total in Gaucho history. Molidor led the team with a .378 average and .567 slugging percentage, while Von Schell's 53 RBI paced the squad.
After losing its top two pitchers to graduation, the success of the UCSB pitching staff in 2001 was less than a certainty. But with the season opener nigh, the Gauchos are looking good. Senior Rylie Ogle, injured much of last season, is expected to be the team's ace, pending good health. Veterans Jim Bullard (So.) and Jeremy Sugarman (Jr.) were effective in 2000 and both are expected to be big contributors this season. New faces on the mound will include JC transfer James Garcia (El Camino) and the Gauchos' top recruit, freshman Matt Vasquez (Santa Barbara HS). Also throwing will be center fielder Skip Schumaker (So.), who redshirted last season due to injury.
Man at Work
Bob Brontsema returns for his eighth season as Gaucho skipper. He owns a career record of 176-191 (.480). UCSB's best record under Brontsema came in 1996, when it went 32-20 overall and 14-7 in Big West games, good for an NCAA Regionals appearance. With his 28-25 finish in 2000, Brontsema has posted two straight over-.500 campaigns, the school's first such achievement since 1992.
Splendor in the Grass
UCSB will open its 2001 season with a three-game series beginning Friday, February 2 at San Jose State, a College World Series participant in 2000. The home opener will be the first of three home doubleheaders for UCSB, as it hosts Oregon State February 10 at 11 a.m. The non-conference schedule is highlighted by home-and-home series with UCLA and USC and eight games at the Hawaii tournament in late March. Six three-game series will make up the conference schedule in the seven-team Big West. UCSB will travel to Cal State Northridge, Sacramento State and Cal State Fullerton, and host Pacific, Long Beach State and Cal Poly.
The Bottom Line: Hitting and Pitching Leaders (2000)
Molidor .378, Peshke .333, Warrecker .320, Von Schell .292, Carter .288, Campanella .288, Kolbach .283, Bannon .265, Smith .252, Bullard 3.98, Sugarman 6.52, Ogle 6.98.