UCSB Hosts Saint Mary's For Three-Game Weekend Series

UCSB Hosts Saint Mary's For Three-Game Weekend Series

March 19, 2008

Santa Barbara, Calif. - The Schedule
Games No. 19, 20, & 21

Friday, March 21 - 2:00 p.m. (PDT)
Saint Mary's at UCSB
at Caesar Uyesaka Stadium

Saturday, March 22 - 11:00 a.m. (PDT)
Saint Mary's at UCSB
at Caesar Uyesaka Stadium

Saturday, March 22 - TBA
Saint Mary's at UCSB
at Caesar Uyesaka Stadium

The Gaucho Record
UC Santa Barbara (12-6) plays Saint Mary's (12-5-1) for a three-game weekend series starting Friday, March 21. The Gauchos come in to the series fresh off a four-game sweep of the Southern Utah University Thunderbirds, while Saint Mary's dropped its most recent contest on March, 18 against San Jose State by a score of 10-4. Prior to the loss, the Gaels also completed a four-game sweep against Fairleigh Dickinson.

This Week
UCSB takes on Saint Mary's for the first time since 1982. The Gauchos hold a perfect 5-0 lifetime record against the Gaels. Friday's game one is scheduled for a 2:00 p.m. start, while Saturday's doubleheader is scheduled to kick off at 11:00.

The Week That Was
The Gauchos started off the week in San Luis Obispo, taking on conference rival Cal Poly for the second time this season. Unlike the first contest, the Gauchos suf- fered a 15-6 defeat at the hands of the Mustangs. Quick to turn things around, the Gauchos swept a four-game series against Southern Utah University in convincing fashion, scoring 43 runs in the process. The Gauchos collected 59 hits in the four games, while amassing a season-high 23 hits on March 14. Each pitcher of the Gauchos starting rotation (Mike Ford, Mario Hollands, and Chuck Huggins) picked up victories along the way.

The Rotation
The Gauchos will put a slight twist on their starting rotation over the weekend, swaping Mario Hollands' (2-1) and Chuck Huggins' (3-1) places in the rotation. UCSB started the season with Hollands throwing game two, and Huggins taking the series finale, but have decided to switch things up against the Gaels. UCSB turns to their ace, sophomore Mike Ford (2-1), in the series opener against Saint Mary's on Friday. Ford's last outing came against Southern Utah where he pitched eight innings allowing one run, while striking out five and walking two. Huggins mans the bump in game two against the Gaels, looking to pick him his team-leading fourth victory of the season. Huggins was masterful in his most recent outing against the Thunderbirds, allowing only one run on three hits in six innings of work, striking out eight and walking three. Hollands will take the mound for the Gauchos in game two of the doubleheader, aiming to pick up his third win on the year. Hollands' last outing came on March 15, when he pitched six innings, allow- ing three earned runs while striking out seven.

There are a total of 14 players that were not on the 2007 roster who will suit up for UCSB in 2008. Five of those 14 players are freshman, while the remaining nine transferred from other schools. Of those 14, three are infielders, five are right-handed pitchers, four are outfielders and two are catchers.

Fantastic Ford
Mike Ford pitched lights-out baseball against Southern Utah on the March 14th series opener. Ford fanned five, while allowing only one run in eigth innings of work. The victory marked his lowest strikeout total of the young seaon, but also his longest outing. Ford is 2-1 on the year in four starts, having allowed 21 hits in 27 innings, while striking out 31 and walking only nine.

Power Push
UCSB is second the Big West Conference in homeruns with 14, first in triples with nine, and first in doubles with 41. The Gauchos .477 slugging percentage is good for second in the conference. The Gauchos have outscored their opponents 132-to-85 thus far.

Super Mario
Redshirt freshman Mario Hollands is coming into his own as a Gaucho. In four starts the southpaw is 2-1 with a sterling 2.59 ERA. The El Cerrito, Calif., native has allowed only seven earned runs in 24.1 innings of work, in addition to sporting an impressive 22-to-5 strikeout to walk ratio.

The Bob Brontsema File
2008 marks the 27th year of head coach Bob Brontsema's involvement in the UCSB baseball program. He is now in his 15th season as head coach, after ten years as an assistant and two as a player. Brontsema's career record is 383-385-2 (.497). He has been selected Big West Coach of the Year twice, first in 1996 when he guided the Gauchos to a 32-20 record and an at-large bid in the NCAA Tournament, and again 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, a day 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.

Matt The Masher
Sophomore Matt Valaika turned in an- other terrific offensive week going 4-for- 5 with three runs scored on March 14 against SUU. It marked the second time this season the Valencia, Calif., native collected four hits in a ballgame. In the previous week, Valaika hit homeruns in consecutive games on March 5th and March 7th.

Fox Facts
Senior Chris Fox, an All-Big West Honorable Mention selection in 2007, has picked up where he left off last season, pacing the Gauchos with a .422 batting average. The slick- fielding center fielder has moved to designated hitter and his offensive numbers have benefited. Fox leads the team in average, triples, homers, total bases, slugging percentage, and on-base percentage. His four triples, .719 slugging percentage, and 17 runs scored are good for first, second, and fifth in the Big West Conference, respectively.

Streaky Shane
After making the switch from shortstop to second base to begin the year, Shane Carlson has taken full advantage both offensively and defensively. The Stevenson Ranch, Calif., native currently owns an 18-game hitting streak, having hit safely in all 18 games to begin the season. In eight of those 18 games, Carlson has had multi-hit performances. The junior racked up six hits and eight RBI in the four-game set against SUU. His three homeruns and 22 RBI are good for first on the Gauchos. In addition, Carlson has blos- somed defensively as well, having made only two errors in 82 chances.

Orange Oliver
Orange Coast College transfer Eric Oliver has been a key piece to the Gauchos' early season success. The Irvine, Calif., native has started all 18 games for the Gauchos at first base, while hitting out of the three hole. Oliver upped his season average to .304 over the week. He is third on the team in extra-base hits with eight, and RBI with 15 . Oliver has also fielded his position perfectly in 156 chances. His 1.000 fielding percentage is tied for tops in the Big West.

Gumping For Greatness
Junior Brian Gump is making the most out of starting role as the Westminster, Calif., native has started in all 18 games to begin the year. The sweet-swining lefty was 7-for-17 with eight runs, three RBI, and three stolen bases over the four-game set against SUU. His three steals increased his perfect stolen base ratio to 12-for-12, good for second in the Big West Conference. His 19 runs scored are also good for second in the conference. The sweet-swinging lefty had a career day against Houston on March 8 going 5-for-5 with a walk, two runs scored, three RBI, and two stolen bases.

Senior Trio
The Gauchos return six starters to the field from a year ago, including the senior trio of Patrick Rose, Mike Zuanich, and Chris Fox. Combined, the threesome accounted for 34% of the runs scored, 33% of the team's hits, 29% of all homeruns, and 32% of all RBIs in 2007.

Shut-Down Brown
Senior reliever Kyle Brown has yet to be scored upon in 11 innings of work. The Yorba Linda, Calif., native is 2-0 in seven appearances out of the bullpen. The southpaw is averaging exactly one strike- out per inning of work, with 11.

Three's Company
The starting rotation of Ford, Hollands, and Huggins is 7-3 on the year in 12 starts with a combined ERA of 2.54. The threesome owns an extraordinary 82-to-20 strikeout to walk ratio, and has allowed a mere three homeruns. The trio has pitched at least six innings of work in nine of their twelve starts to begin the year.

Relief Corps.
Junior Matt Wade and Kyle Brown accounted for 54.2 innings last year and will be two of the most reliable arms out of the bullpen for UCSB in 2008. Thus far, Brown has yet to be scored upon, while Wade has allowed just three earned runs in 7.1 innings of work. The Gauchos five saves are good for second in the Big West, with three individual relievers contributing to the cause. Brown has one, junior Zach Samuels has one, and sophomore Clayton Edwards leads with Gauchos with three.