UCSB Hosts Pepperdine Friday to Open 2005 Season
Feb. 3, 2005
UC Santa Barbara Gauchos vs. Pepperdine Waves
Friday, February 4, 2005 at 2:00 p.m. at UCSB's Caesar Uyesaka Stadium
Saturday, February 5, 2005 at 1:00 p.m. in Malibu, Calif.
Sunday, February 6, 2005 at 1:00 p.m. at UCSB's Caesar Uyesaka Stadium
UC Santa Barbara opens its 2005 season with three games against the defending West Coast Conference Champion, Pepperdine. The teams will play game one of the series on Friday at UCSB's Caesar Uyesaka Stadium. On Saturday, the series shifts to Pepperdine, and then game three will be back at Caesar Uyesaka Stadium for the finale at 1:00 p.m. on Sunday.
A Look Back at 2004
UC Santa Barbara finished the 2004 season with 33-21 overall record and a 10-11 mark in the Big West Conference. The 33 wins were the most wins UCSB has compiled since the 2001 season and the second most in head coach Bob Brontsema's career at UCSB. The Gauchos were one of just two Big West Conference teams to defeat 2004 National Champion Cal State Fullerton. The season was also highlighted by, a three game series sweep of powerful Long Beach State, which was ranked fourth in the nation at the time. Ultimately, Long Beach came within one win of advancing to the College World Series. Following the campaign, Brontsema had three players drafted and four players sign professional contracts in 2004.
Numerous Returnees Leads To Gaucho Optimism
The Gauchos return 19 letterman in 2005, led by sophomore shortstop Chris Valaika, senior outfielder Matt Wilkerson and senior second baseman Chris Malec. Valaika earned Freshman All-American and Second-team All Big West honors as UCSB's starting shortstop after his first campaign. In the summer of 2004, he enjoyed success on the international scene, helping to lead the USA National Team to a gold medal at the World Championships. Malec and Wikerson are slated to complete outstanding four-year careers for the Gauchos in 2005. In 2004, second baseman Malec earned First Team All-Big West honors batting .306 and driving in 54 runs. With 131 career RBI, he needs just 27 to move into UCSB's all-time top-ten. Wilkerson, the right fielder, batted .279, hit nine home runs and drove in 56 runs. His nine home runs propelled him to seventh (29) all-time at UCSB.
The Men On The Hill
UCSB's top-five pitchers from 2004 return in 2005, including all three weekend starters. Juniors Steve Morlock and Michael Martin each started a team-high 16 games for the Gauchos in 2004, going 7-5 and 9-4 respectively. Sophomore Andy Graham, who also returns, made 12 starts and went 4-4. In addition, two of the team's top relief pitchers are back. Senior right hander Alex McRobbie who posted a 1.51 earned run average in just over 41 innings, was selected Honorable Mention All-Big West in 2004. Senior reliever Loren Fraser, who had a win and two saves in a three-game weekend sweep of Long Beach State, was 6-1 with two saves and a 1.94 ERA.
The Brontsema File
2005 marks the 24th year of head coach Bob Brontsema's involvement in the UCSB baseball program. He is now in his 12th season as head coach, after ten years as an assistant and two as a player. Brontsema enters the 2005 season with a record of 296-290. 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 .701 winning percentage in 2001 was the best 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 Brontsema's coaching career include win no. 100 in 1997, win no. 200 in 2001, and with UCSB's fourth win this season Brontsema will become the third coach in school history to record 300 career victories.
Probable Gaucho Starters - 2004 Statistics
C - Matt Kalafatis - .322, six doubles, three HR, 23 RBI
1B - Bill Rowe - .319, 10 doubles, four HR, 39 RBI
2B - Chris Malec - .306, 11 doubles, four HR, 54 RBI
SS - Chris Valaika - .347, 15 doubles, seven HR, 38 RBI
3B - David Figoni - .333, three doubles, one HR, eight RBI
LF - Matt Stevens - .276, eight doubles, one HR, 10 RBI
CF - Matt Emerick - .308, five doubles, 23 runs, 25 RBI
RF - Matt Wilkerson - .279, seven doubles, nine HR, 56 RBI
DH - C.J. Cook - .273, three doubles, one HR, nine RBI
Possible Starting Pitchers - 2004 Statistics
Friday - Steve Morlock - RHP - Jr. - 7-5, 5.02 ERA, 49 strikeouts
Saturday - Michael Martin - RHP - Jr. - 9-4, 5.15 ERA, 34 strikeouts
Sunday - Andy Graham - RHP - So. - 4-4, 5.08 ERA, 41 strikeouts
Scouting the Waves
In 2005, head coach Steve Rodriguez's second season, the Pepperdine Waves bring a talented veteran team to the diamond. The Waves return 22 letterwinners, including seven starters, from last year's team and have added a top-ten recruiting class helping them earn a Collegiate Baseball preseason rank of 29th. In 2004, Pepperdine racked up a 30-32 overall record, winning the West Coast Conference and advancing to the NCAA Tournament. The Waves were knocked-out of the tournament by evenutal College World Series Champion Cal State Fullerton. The Waves return two first-team all WCC players, senior utility man Steve Kleen and junior second baseman David Uribes. In 2004, Kleen batted .373 and collected 56 RBI while Uribes hit .321 and swiped a team high 18 bases. On the mound the Waves return a balanced staff led by ace Kea Kometami (8-6, 4.07) and closer Steve Kleen (4.07, eight saves).
UCSB and Pepperdine are as even as opponents can get. The all time series record is tied at 48 wins apiece. In 2004, the teams met each other on the field twice, splitting the two games.
On The Horizon
Following this weekend's opening series against Pepperdine, the Gauchos will hit the road. UCSB travels to San Jose State for a three-game set next weekend. Following a February 15 game home against Westmont, the Gauchos travel to the Central Valley for a three-game series against Fresno State on February 18-20. The 2005 schedule is highlighted by three-game sets at defending National Champion and second-ranked Cal State Fullerton, at eighth-ranked Washington, and at home against 14th-ranked Long Beach State and 24th-ranked Oral Roberts. The Gauchos will also play a pair of games against tradional power USC, and three games against UCLA.