UC Santa Barbara Plays Host to Fresno State For Three-Game Series This Weekend

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Feb. 25, 2004

A Look At Last Week
With inclimate weather plaguing Southern California last weekend, UCSB and Pepperdine were only able to squeeze in two of the three games of their home-away-home series. On Friday, the Waves got the best of the Gauchos as they took the series opener 6-4 at Caesar Uyesaka Stadum. But the Gauchos got even on Monday in the make-up of Saturday's rained-out contest as they survived a ninth-inning rally to hold on for a 6-5 victory. In the opener, Wave right-hander Jacob Barrack pitched five effective innings for his first win of the year while hard-luck loser Steve Morlock fell to 1-2. The Gaucho right-hander tossed 5.2 innings allowing two earned runs on seven hits while striking out three. Offensively for the Gauchos, designated hitter Greg Powers led the way going 4-for-5 with a run scored. On Monday, sophomore right-hander Michael Martin (3-0) remained perfect for the season as the Gauchos upended Pepperdine at Eddy D. Field Stadium. The Gauchos scattered ten hits against three Waves pitchers and scored in five different innings during the two-hour, fifty-seven minute game. UCSB capitalized on three Pepperdine errors and four wild pitches, scoring only two of its runs via RBI base-hits. One of those RBI came from junior second baseman Chris Malec, who, with a 2-for-5 performance, posted his third multi-hit game of the young campaign. Malec also scored a run. Martin tossed five effective innings, allowing two earned runs on seven hits while striking out one.

On The Mound This Week
Friday - Steve Morlock will make his fourth start of the year. The right-hander has compiled a 1-2 record with an impressive 3.38 ERA in 16 innings pitched so far this year. Morlock has allowed just six earned runs while striking out eleven. He has held opponents to a .250 batting average overall and just .182 with runners on base. In the Gauchos' season opener on February 6 Morlock struck out a career-high seven batters en route to his and UCSB's first win of the year.
Saturday - Junior right-hander Nate Holguin will make the first collegiate start of his career. Holguin is 0-0 this year with a 6.35 ERA in 5.2 innings pitched. Most recently, he tossed three innings on Monday against Pepperdine giving up just one run on three hits.
Sunday - Sophomore Michael Martin will look to remain unbeaten and pick up his fourth win of the year. The right-hander has posted a 1.40 ERA, allowing just three earned runs in 19.1 innings. He is also holding opponents to a .197 batting average... While Martin has remained consistently impressive on the mound this year, he has drifted between a quick-working hurler and an overpowering strikeout artist. In his first start of the year against San Diego State, Martin struck out one, then he came out and fanned eight against Fresno State on February 15. On Monday against Pepperdine again he struck out just one.

The Brontsema File
Bob Brontsema enters his 11th season as head coach of the UC Santa Barbara baseball program. Last year Brontsema logged his 250th victory, becoming the third coach in school history to do so, and also cementing himself as the third winningest coach in UCSB history. He enters this season with a career mark of 263-269. Brontsema's team ended the 2003 season 25-28 overall and 8-13 in Big West Conference play. Brontsema's has been selected twice as Big West Coach of the Year. In 2001, his team finished with a mark of 40-17, good for a .701 winning percentage, the highest in school history. Brontsema's 2001squad also had 10 players sign professional contracts after the season. Brontsema was also selected as Big West Coach of the Year in 1996, when he piloted UCSB to a 32-20 overall mark and 14-7 showing in conference play.

Scouting the Bulldogs
Entering this weekend's three-game series the Bulldogs' will carry a 5-7 record. The sub .500 record does not do Fresno State justice as so far they have faced one of the most formidable schedules around. After dropping two of three to then No. 3 ranked Stanford over opening weekend, the Bulldogs beat UCSB's Big West rival Cal Poly 8-2. Fresno State then dropped two of three to a much-improved UCLA squad before falling to No. 30 UC Irvine. The schedule got no easier after that as the Bulldogs' only salvaged one of three games against Cal before escaping with another close 5-4 victory over Cal Poly on Tuesday. As a team, the Bulldogs are batting .281 with five hitters batting .300 or better. Leading the way has been infielder David Gomez with a .524 average after 21 at-bats. The junior has three doubles and four RBI. Right behind him are former Santa Barbara City College star and Santa Barbara Forester Richie Robnett (.367) and Ryan Haag (.358). The latter two have combined for 37 hits and 16 RBI in the team's twelve games. On the mound, UCSB can expect to see righty Michael Cooper on Friday, left-hander David Griffin on Saturday and southpaw Brandon Miller on Sunday. Cooper is 0-1 with a 3.38 ERA and 16 strikeouts in 18.2 innings. In 20 innings, Griffin has a 1-2 record and a 2.25 ERA so far in 2004. Miller, with a 0.90 ERA and a 1-0 record will be making his second start of the year.

Series Record
The Gauchos hold the all-time edge over the Bulldogs 46-28. However, most recently, Fresno State got the best of UCSB in a 10-3 win during the 2002 season. Before that the last time the school's met was in 1992 when the Gauchos were able to take one of three over a weekend series. UCSB did most of its damage to the Bulldogs from 1951-1965 when the Gauchos took 21 of 26 from Fresno State.

Head Coach Mike Batesole
Last season, Mike Batesole became the third head coach at Fresno State since 1948 and the eighth skipper overall in the program's 81-year history. In his first year, Batesole guided the Bulldogs to their 27th consecutive winning season and 16th straight campaign with 30 or more wins with a 30-29 record. Batesole was the head coach at Cal State Northridge from 1996 to 2002 before moving to Fresno State. As skipper for the Matadors, he compiled a 256-158-1 record. Coming into this weeekend, Batesole has an overall record of 291-195-1 as a head coach.

Rhymes with 'Wow'
In the pronunciation guide in this year's UCSB Baseball media guide, fans are instructed to pronounce first baseman Bill Rowe's name like the word 'wow'. Perhaps this is no coincidence as the sophomore cornerstone has been nothing short of awesome in 2004. While swinging his way to a career high ten-game hitting streak, which is still active, Rowe has climbed his way to the top of the Gauchos' offensive leader board in hits (15), RBI (10) and total bases (20). He is second on the team with eight runs scored, fifth with a .349 batting average and fifth with a .465 slugging percentage. Rowe also has one of the team's three home runs which came in the form of a grand slam on February 17 against Westmont. The left-handed slugger also is tied for the most multi-hit games (3) and most multi-RBI games (3).

Extra, Extra...
Ten games into the 2004 campaign, UCSB has still not played a game in which it has not collect an extra-base hit. In six of those games opposing pitchers could not even hold the Gauchos to simply one extra-base hit.

Model of Consistency
Five Gauchos have started every game at the same position. Four of those five are anchored around the infield with third baseman Nate Sutton, shortstop Chris Valaika, second baseman Chris Malec and Rowe all being on the field for every first pitch. In right field Matt Wilkerson has not missed a start either. Of those five only Sutton has batted in the same line-up spot every game. The left-handed hitter has led-off for UCSB since game one.

Record Watch
With 19 more strikeouts, Wilkerson will become UCSB's all-time leader with 155. Coming into this weekend's series the right-fielder has 136 strikeouts, just shy of Jerold Roundtree's (1988-1991) mark of 154.

Slick Fielders UCSB has posted a .974 fielding percentag after ten games, good for second of any Big West team. The Gauchos have made just ten errors, averaging one per game, right behind Long Beach State, who has committed just seven.