Feb. 24, 2007
SANTA BARBARA, Calif. -
UC Santa Barbara Gauchos vs. Cal Bears
Sunday, Feb. 25, 2007 at 1:00 p.m. at UCSB's Caesar Uyesaka Stadium
Monday, Feb. 26, 2007 at 2:00 p.m. at UCSB's Caesar Uyesaka Stadium
UCSB (3-3, 0-0) will host Cal (5-5) in an unusual Sunday and Monday two-game series. Game one is scheduled to start at 1 p.m. and game two is slated for 2 p.m. Right-hander Steve Morlock is expected to take the hill on Sunday and lefty Jeff Braun should get the call on Monday.
A Look Back to Last Week
UCSB is coming off a 2-1 series loss to Hawai'i over the weekend. The Gauchos took Friday's game one of the three-game set 3-1 with the help of a complete game from senior right-hander Steve Morlock. The Rainbows battled back to even the series at one game apiece after an outstanding pitching performance of their own, a complete game three-hitter from left-hander Mark Rodrigues. In game three's rubber match, the Gauchos got on the board first, but where unable to hold on to the lead. UCSB eventually fell 9-2 in the game, with the big blows coming in the four-run sixth inning for Hawai'i. After the three-game series, UCSB remained home on Tuesday to host cross-town rival Westmont. The Gauchos easily defeated the Warriors by a count of 11-2 at Caesar Uyesaka Stadium. Senior Michael Martin got the start for UCSB, lasting a pre-scheduled three innings of work. Senior Robbie Blauer led all hitters, finishing three-for-five with two doubles, a triple, two runs scored and three RBI.
Gauchos on the Radio
Both games against Cal this week will be broadcast live on UCSB's campus radio station, KCSB 91.9 FM. KCSB will be bringing you every pitch of the series against the Bears. In addition, all UCSB home games will be broadcast live via Gametracker starting March 6 against Pepperdine. Just check the schedule on the baseball homepage at www.ucsbgauchos.com.
Blauer Bats Big
In Tuesday's game against Westmont, senior first baseman Robbie Blauer batted three-for-five with two doubles, a triple, two runs scored and three RBI. For Blauer, the triple was the first of his Gaucho career. With the outstanding offensive effort, the Huntington Beach, Calif. native raised his average from .333 to .391. Blauer now ranks first on the team in hits (9), triples (1), total bases (13) and total plate appearances (26). He also ranks second on the team in average (.391), on base percentage (.462), runs scored (4) and doubles (2). Lastly, his three RBI place him tied for third behind junior Mike Zuanich and freshman Matt Valaika who have four each.
Although some players struggle to make the transition from Junior College baseball to Division I baseball, El Camino College transfers Chris Fox and Mike Zuanich have seemingly had no problems making the jump. Fox, the Gauchos' starting centerfielder, leads the team in batting average at .467. In addition, the leadoff hitter is reaching base at a team-high .556 clip. Lastly, Fox is the only Gaucho to successfully steal a base, which he has done twice. Zuanich has been the starting left fielder for the Gauchos since the beginning of the season, and is currently batting .333 and slugging .611 to lead the team in that category. His four RBI rank him tied for first on the squad. In addition, Zuanich is the only Gaucho that has collected a sacrifice fly--he has two.
Worth the Wait
After missing the entire 2006 campaign due to injury, seniors Steve Morlock and Michael Martin returned to the Gaucho staff in 2007. Morlock, who made his debut against San Jose State earlier this season, proved that his pitching is worth the wait with a gem of a performance against Hawai'i last Friday. Morlock (1-1, 0.64) tossed a complete game three-hitter, tallying nine strikeouts and walking only one en route to his first victory of the season. The Kentfield, Calif. native retired the last sixteen batters in a row to close the game and seal the Gaucho 3-1 victory. The nine strikeouts were a career-high for Morlock, who tallied eight against UC Riverside on April 18, 2004. The nine-inning complete game was the first of that variety since 2005, when Martin tossed nine complete to earn a 5-3 victory over Fresno State on February 19. For Morlock, it was his second complete game of his career, the first coming in an eight-inning game against Cal State Fullerton on April 29, 2005. In Friday's win over Hawai'i, Morlock surrendered a single run in the fourth and gave up a measly three singles over the nine innings. Morlock's 0.64 ERA is tops on the squad thus far this season. Martin made his 2007 debut on Tuesday night against Westmont. The Red Bluff, Calif. native lasted a pre-scheduled three innings, surrendering a run on two hits and a walk en route to his first victory of the season. Despite allowing the single run, Martin looked sharp against opposing hitters.
First Time's A Charm?
Tuesday's game against Westmont proved to be a game of firsts for the Gauchos. For right-hander Michael Martin, the game was his first start after missing all last season due to injury. Sophomore Shane Carlson connected for his first hit of 2007, hopefully jumpstarting the Stevenson Ranch, Calif. native's bat for the rest of the season. Carlson batted .286 in 41 games last year. Fellow UCSB middle-infielder Gunnar Terhune picked up his first hit as a Gaucho in the game, a single into centerfield to leadoff the eighth inning. Senior Robbie Blauer and sophomore Chris McMurray also belted their first triples as Gauchos. For Blauer, Tuesday's game was also his first three-hit game of 2007 and the first game in which he had an extra-base hit (he tallied two doubles and a triple on the day). Lastly, junior Patrick Rose drove a pitch over the wall in right field for his first homer of the year and as a Gaucho.
Probable Gaucho Starters
C - Chris McMurray - Tallied one of UCSB's two triples against Westmont.
1B - Robbie Blauer - Leads the team with nine hits on the season.
2B - Matt Valaika - Has a hit in all but one game this season.
3B - Patrick Rose - His five runs rank first on the Gauchos thus far.
SS - Shane Carlson - Connected for his first hit of the season against Westmont.
LF - Mike Zuanich - Is tied for first on the team with four RBI.
CF - Chris Fox - Batting .467 on the season, ranking first in that category.
RF - Mario Lewis - Leads the team with three doubles on the year.
DH - Matt Anderson - Has played in four of the Gauchos' six games, starting three.
DH - Cody Dee - Has started two games, batting two-for-four in those chances.
Scouting the Bears
The 2007 California baseball team (5-5) has a unique road trip this weekend after playing nine of its first 10 games at home. The Golden Bears travel to No. 20-ranked (Collegiate Baseball) Long Beach State (6-4) for games Friday and Saturday, before moving up north for games Sunday and Monday at UC Santa Barbara (3-3). Cal had success versus both the 49ers and the Gauchos last season, winning two of three versus LBSU, and sweeping UCSB at Evans Diamond. Despite losing their last three games, each by one run (3-2 to UNLV, 11-10 to UNLV, 9-8 at San Jose State), a bright spot for the Bears has been the play of freshman designated hitter Jeff Kobernus and freshman right fielder Blake Smith. Kobernus was 8-for-13 (.615) versus UNLV with two RBI, while Smith was 6-for-10 with a two-run double and threw a runner out at the plate against the Rebels. Kobernus and Smith are currently leading Cal with .455 and .419 averages, respectively. On the mound, sophomore left-hander Craig Bennigson picked up the Bears' 8-4 win over UNLV Feb. 16 in only his third collegiate start, throwing a career-high 6.0 innings with three hits, one run, three walks and a career-high six strikeouts. Other players of note for Cal are sophomore first baseman David Cooper and sophomore right-hander Tyson Ross. Cooper, a transfer from Cal State Fullerton and a member of the 2006 College World Series All-Tournament team, is batting .405 with three doubles, two home runs and 11 RBI. Ross, on the Wallace Watch List as a candidate for national player of the year, suffered the 3-2 loss to UNLV Feb. 17, but still has 13 strikeouts in a team-high 20.3 innings with a 1.77 ERA. As a team, Cal is hitting .307 overall and .406 (43-for-106) with runners in scoring position.
Cal leads the all-time series between the two teams 32-14. In the last series, the Bears swept the Gauchos (3-0, 4-2, 2-0) at Evans Diamond, Feb. 24-26, 2006.
The 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 351-351 (.500). 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 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, that saw him earn career win number 200 with a 7-2 victory over UC Riverside. The 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 career wins, came May 12, 2006 in an 8-6 win over Long Beach State.
What's Up Next?
After the two-game series with Cal on Sunday and Monday, UCSB will hit the road and head to Beaumont, Texas to take part in the Lamar Classic hosted by the Lamar Cardinals. UCSB will play three games in the tournament, being pitted against the Cardinals on Friday, March 2 at 4:30 p.m. The Gauchos will then take on St. John's at 4:30 p.m. on Saturday before finishing the three-day tournament against Kansas State on Sunday at 9 a.m.