March 15, 2007
SANTA BARBARA, Calif. -
Games 18, 19 and 20
UC Santa Barbara Gauchos vs. Loyola Marymount Lions
Friday, March 16, 2007 at 2:00 p.m. at UCSB's Caesar Uyesaka Stadium
Saturday, March 17, 2007 at 1:00 p.m. at UCSB's Caesar Uyesaka Stadium
Sunday, March 18, 2007 at 1:00 p.m. at UCSB's Caesar Uyesaka Stadium
UCSB (7-10, 0-0) will host Loyola Marymount (10-12-1) in a three-game non-conference series this weekend at Caesar Uyesaka Stadium. Friday's game one is slated to be played at 2 p.m. and will feature RHP Steve Morlock pitted against junior RHP Brad Meyers for the Matadors. Saturday and Sunday's games are slated for 1 p.m. starts.
A Look Back to Last Week
The Gauchos are coming off a three-game non-conference series sweep of Cal State Northridge this past weekend. The Gauchos took Friday's game one of the series by a count of 6-2. Senior right-hander Steve Morlock scattered twelve hits in seven and a third innings pitched to earn his second win of the season. Senior Justin Segal wasted no time adding to his career record in appearances and collecting his first save of the year, contributing a perfect inning and two-thirds of work while striking out one. In addition, Segal got the Gauchos out of a tough jam in the top of the eighth, inducing a double-play groundball to end the inning. UCSB posted one run in the bottom of the seventh and three more in the eighth inning to complete a comeback and defeat Cal State Northridge by a count of 9-8 on Saturday in game two. Five Gauchos tallied two or more hits in the victory, led by junior Chris Fox's three-for-five performance with a homerun, two runs scored and two RBI. For Fox, the homer was his first of the season. Freshman right-hander Mike Ford dealt eight innings, surrendering a run on four hits and a walk while striking out five to guide UCSB past Cal State Northridge by a count of 2-1 to complete the three-game sweep of the Matadors on Sunday at Caesar Uyesaka Stadium.
Blauer Stays Hot
Senior first baseman Robbie Blauer had an unbelievable four-game week this past week against No. 10 Pepperdine and then against Cal State Northridge over the weekend. The Huntington Beach, Calif. native batted .571 and slugged 1.000 over the four-game stretch to extend his now eighteen game hitting streak to sixteen to that point. In addition, Blauer tallied fourteen total bases against the two teams on the week. Against the then tenth-ranked Waves on Tuesday, Blauer batted two-for-three with a homerun, two walks, two runs scored and an RBI. The homerun was his second of the year and his second in as many games to that point. In game one against the Matadors, he connected for a two-for-four day with a double, a walk, a run scored and an RBI. Perhaps his best day at the plate came on Saturday in game two against Northridge, batting three-for-four with two doubles, a walk, a run scored and an RBI. In the series finale, Blauer batted one-for-three with a hit-by-pitch in a 2-1 Gaucho victory for the sweep of the Matadors.
"Chucked" Into the Rotation
Junior left-hander Chuck Huggins finds himself in the Gaucho starting rotation for the first time this season. The transfer from Trinity College has pretty successful out of the Gaucho bullpen this year, and hopefully his success will transfer to the starting rotation role. Huggins is slated to make his first start of the season on Saturday against the Lions. In 10.2 innings pitched, Huggins has allowed three runs on five hits and ten walks while striking out twelve. He also picked up the first Gaucho win of the season, throwing a third of an inning in UCSB's 6-5 victory over San Jose State on February 11. Over the last nine and two-thirds inning, Huggins has allowed only two runs on three hits to lower his ERA to an impressive 2.53 mark.
Series Against Minnesota
UCSB held a 4-0 advantage headed into the top of the sixth inning, but eventually fell to Minnesota 6-5 in ten innings after the Golden Gophers tallied six runs in the last five innings of play to complete the comeback. Freshman Matt Valaika had the loudest hit on Tuesday, blasting his second homerun of the year to lead off the second inning. Senior starter Brian Tracy lasted five strong innings, surrendering no runs on six hits and three walks while striking out two. Right-hander Bryan Fleming pitched three innings, giving up three runs (two earned) on five hits and striking out two to be tagged with the loss. After failing to hold on to the 4-0 advantage in Tuesday's game, UCSB let a 5-2 lead slip to Minnesota before eventually falling 12-5 on Wednesday in game two. Every Gaucho starter collected a hit in the game, led by senior Robbie Blauer who batted three-for-five with two RBI. With the three hits, Blauer extended his hitting streak to eighteen games. Fellow senior Mario Lewis also contributed multiple hits in the outing, finishing two-for-five with a run scored and an RBI. Sophomore Shane Carlson had the best day in terms of average for the Gauchos, batting two-for-three with a run scored. Senior southpaw Jeff Braun got the start for the Gauchos, lasting six and a third innings and allowing six runs on twelve hits and one walk while striking out three. After taking the loss, Braun is now 0-4 on the season.
Right-Handers Blow Past Northridge
Senior right-hander Steve Morlock and freshman Mike Ford both provided quality starts against Northridge this past weekend. In Friday's game one, Morlock lasted seven and a third innings, allowing two runs (one earned) and striking out three. For Morlock, the victory improved his record to 2-3 on the season. With the 7.1 innings pitched, Morlock has now lasted five or more innings in four of his five starts thus far. In addition, Morlock has contributed the only Gaucho complete game this season, lasting all nine against Hawai'i on February 16. With the strong outing, he also lowered his ERA from 4.12 to an impressive 3.45. Ford took the ball on Sunday and matched Morlock's effort, lasting eight innings and allowing a single run on four hits and a walk while striking out five. For Ford, the start was his longest of the year and also his best in terms of quality. In addition, Ford has progressively increased his innings total over the last two starts, lasting four innings against Kansas State on March 4. Through three starts this year, Ford holds a 1-0 win/loss record.
Probable Gaucho Starters
DH - Matt Anderson - Currently riding an eight-game hit streak.
C - Chris McMurray - Has tallied multiple hits in two of his last three games.
1B - Robbie Blauer - Carrying an eighteen-game hit streak into the weekend.
2B - Matt Valaika - Ranks third on the team with 11 RBI.
3B - Patrick Rose - Tied for fifth on the team with seven runs scored.
3B - Gunnar Terhune - Tied for the team lead in games as a sub with eight.
SS - Shane Carlson - Batted two-for-three with a run scored on Wednesday.
LF - Mike Zuanich - Currently riding a six-game hit streak.
CF - Chris Fox - Connected for his first homerun against Northridge on Saturday.
RF - Mario Lewis - Has collected five two-hit games in the last seven games played.
DH - Cody Dee - Batting .294 on the season.
DH - Steve Domecus - Batted two-for-five on Wednesday against Minnesota.
Scouting the Lions
Loyola Marymount enters the weekend toting a 10-12-1 record after taking a three-game series over No. 28 Tulane this past weekend. The Lions lost game one of the series by a score of 4-1 on Friday before winning game two 7-3 and taking the series with a 3-2 victory on Sunday. In front of 2,500 fans at Zephyr Field, Tulane's Sean Morgan threw a complete game, holding LMU to one run while striking out 13 in the opening game on Friday. The Lions had a 1-0 lead in the early pitchers' dual, but could not hang on against Morgan and the 28th-ranked Green Wave. The Lions used clutch-two out hitting to take down the Green Wave on Saturday. Nine of LMU's 12 hits and all seven runs came with two outs on the scoreboard on Saturday. LMU scored in the first inning and led the entire rubber match on Sunday, as the Lions won their sixth game in their last seven games played. After a fantastic week against Tulane and Cal State Northridge, junior Eric Farris was rewarded with a WCC Player of the Week selection. Over the course of the four-game week, Farris went 9-for-19 (.474) with five stolen bases, six runs scored, and three RBI. His two extra base hits led him to a .579 slugging percentage. He also had an on-base percentage of .500. The Lions' second baseman was also perfect defensively, recording 11 putouts and 15 assists. In the Lions' two road wins over 28th-ranked Tulane, Farris went 7-for-10 as the leadoff batter. Leading hitters for the Lions are Farris (.414, 1 HR, 16 RBI), junior Sean Dovel (.344, 4 HR, 17 RBI) and Angelo Songco (.321, 1 HR, 12 RBI). The LMU starting rotation is slated to be junior right-hander Brad Meyers (2-3, 3.38) on Friday and senior LHP Daniel Macias (2-2, 3.28) on Saturday. Sunday's starter is still undecided for the Lions.
The series between the two teams is tied, 59-59.
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 355-358-2 (.498). 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 three-game series against Loyola Marymount, the Gauchos will play a three-game series against Pepperdine on Saturday, Sunday and Monday. Saturday's game one will be played at Caesar Uyesaka Stadium at 1 p.m., while the final two games of the series will be played in Malibu, Calif. at 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. The Waves defeated the Gauchos earlier this season in a slugfest, 13-12.