Gauchos Host Cal in Brief Return Home on Wednesday Then Hit the Road for Two Weeks Beginning This Weekend at TCU

Gauchos Host Cal in Brief Return Home on Wednesday Then Hit the Road for Two Weeks Beginning This Weekend at TCU

March 27, 2007

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The Schedule
Game No. 24
Wednesday, March 28 - 2:00 p.m.
UCSB vs. Cal
at UCSB's Caesar Uyesaka Stadium

Games No. 25, 26 and 27
Friday, March 30 - 4:30 p.m. (PDT)
at TCU's Lupton Stadium

Saturday, March 31 - 12:00 p.m. (PDT)
at TCU's Lupton Stadium

Sunday, April 1 - 11:00 a.m. (PDT)
at TCU's Lupton Stadium

The Gaucho Record
UC Santa Barbara enters Tuesday's game against Cal with an 11-12 record. The Gauchos lost two of three games over the weekend to 17th-ranked Pepperdine. UCSB lost at home on Saturday before splitting a pair of games in Malibu. Saturday's loss to the Waves ended a three-game winning streak. Santa Barbara has now won seven of its last 11 games.

This Week
UCSB will play a Wednesday afternoon game against Cal at Caesar Uyesaka Stadium. The game will be the Gauchos' third of the season against the Golden Bears. UCSB dropped a pair of decisions to Cal on Feb. 25 and Feb. 26 and has a lifetime record of 14-34 against the Golden Bears. On Friday, Santa Barbara will open a three-game series at 28th-ranked Texas Christian. This will be the team's first trip to TCU. Last year, the Gauchos won two of three home games from the Horned Frogs. Those were the first three meetings ever between the schools.

Last Weekend
On Saturday, UCSB was routed by visiting 17th-ranked Pepperdine, 16-1. The Gauchos faced Waves' star right hander Barry Enright, a preseason All-American, and he was too much, ,allowing just four hits and one run over seven innings. Matt Valaika drove in Santa Barbara's only run of the game with an RBI single in the fourth inning. On Sunday, the teams squared-off in Malibu and UCSB turned the tables, blanking Pepperdine 7-0. Junior southpaw Chuck Huggins made his second start of the season and improved to 3-0 by hurling six three-hit and shutout innings. Sophomore Matt Wade completed the deal by blanking the Waves over the final three innings. Interestingly, the Gauchos scored all seven of their runs in the second inning with the big blow, a two-run double, coming of the bat of center fielder Chris Fox. In Monday's series finale in Malibu, the Waves turned the tables on UCSB. Propelled by a seven-run fifth inning, they defeated the Gauchos 11-3. The big blow in the seven-run fifth was a three-run home run by shortstop Danny Worth. The Gauchos were led by freshman third baseman Gunnar Terhune who went 3-for-4 and sophomore catcher Chris McMurray who belted his first home run of the season.

The Rotation
Senior Brian Tracy, one of the Gauchos' hottest pitchers, will get the nod in Wednesday's game against Cal. Tracy is 1-1 with a 2.77 ERA, but in his last two outings, a no-decision against Minnesota and a win over Loyola Marymount, he hurled 13 innings and allowed just one earned run. Senior Steve Morlock will start the first game at TCU. He is 3-4 with a 3.95 ERA, but he is coming off of a rough outing in a loss to Pepperdine. Junior Chuck Huggins will pitch game two in Fort Worth. The transfer from Trinity College is a perfect 3-0 with a 2.08 ERA. He has started two games, including a win at Pepperdine on March 25. In the win over the Waves, Huggins tossed six shutout innings for the win. The series finale at TCU will see freshman Mike Ford take the mound for the Gauchos. He is coming off of a rough outing in the final game against Pepperdine, but will bring a 1-1 record and a 5.32 ERA into his assignment.

Potential Starters - Notes
C - Matt Anderson-Has hit in 10 of his last 12 games.
C - Chris McMurray-Belted his first home run of the season on Monda at Pepperdine.
1B - Robbie Blauer-Dating to last season, has hit in 24 straight games.
2B - Matt Valaika-Is tied for the team-lead in doubles (seven) and home runs (two).
3B - Patrick Rose-Is hitting .444 in his last five games.
3B - Gunnar Terhune-Produced a season-high three hits on Monday at Pepperdine.
SS - Shane Carlson-Since opening the year 0-for-14, has gone 13-for-55, .237.
LF - Mike Zuanich-Has hit in 10 of the last 12 games.
CF - Chris Fox-Tied for the team-lead with 14 runs scored.
RF - Mario Lewis-Has hit in 12 of the last 13 going 17-for-52 over that span, .327.
DH - Cody Dee-Has six RBI in his last four games.
DH - Steve Domecus-Two of his four hits have been home runs.

The Bob 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 359-360-2 (.499). 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.

Blauer Power
Senior first baseman Robbie Blauer continues to roll. He hit in all three games against Pepperdine last weekend, extending his hitting streak to 24 games dating back to the 2006 campaign. The streak is the longest by a Gaucho since Ryan Spilborghs set a school record by hitting in 35 straight at the end of the 2001 season. Blauer, who has hit in all 23 Gaucho games this season, enters the week with a team-leading .421 batting average. Despite hitting in all three games against the Waves, he was 3-for-13 (.231) and saw his average drop from .451. Blauer needed a ninth inning single in Saturday's game to keep the streak alive. The Huntington Beach native leads or is tied for the team-lead in nine offensive categories, but one of those categories is not strikeouts. Of the 17 Gauchos listed with offensive statistics, Blauer ranks 13th with just four strikeouts. Of the 11 players with 20 or more at bats, he ranks 11th. He has struck out just four times in 108 plate appearances this season. Finally, in his two seasons combined, Blauer has collected 101 hits in 279 at bats, a .362 average, a figure that would rank sixth on the school's all-time list.

The Life Of Brian
While he did not pitch in the three weekend games against Pepperdine, senior right hander Brian Tracy is coming off of his two best outings of the season. He will get the start on Wednesday against Cal. On March 18 against Loyola Marymount, Tracy tossed eight innings and allowed just two hits and two runs, one earned. He posted the victory in the Gauchos' 11-2 decision. On March 13, five days earlier, Tracy went five innings against Minnesota, allowing six hits but no runs. In the two games combined, he went 13.0 innings and allowed eight hits and one earned run for a 0.69 ERA. He also had five strikeouts and seven walks. For the year, Tracy now has a team-leading 2.77 ERA.

Chuck, No Need To Duck
Junior left handed pitcher Chuck Huggins seems to have cemented himself into the UCSB pitching rotation. A transfer from Trinity University in San Antonio, Texas, Huggins' first nine appearances this year were out of the bullpen and they totaled 10.2 innings. His last two outings were both starts and despite some wildness, he has shown outstanding stuff. In the two games, wins against Loyola Marymount and nationally-ranked Pepperdine, Huggins logged 11.0 innings, allowing just four hits and two runs, both earned. His ERA in the two games was 1.64. In the win over Pepperdine, he went six shutout innings and allowed just three hits. In fact, Huggins and Matt Wade combined for the first nine-inning shutout by UCSB since March 13, 2005. The only chink in his armor has been his control. Huggins has walked 11 batters in his 11 innings over the last two games and in 21.2 innings this season he has handed out 21 free passes. On the other hand, in his 21.2 innings, he has allowed opponents just nine hits in 68 at bats, a stellar .162 opponents batting average. Overall, Huggins is a perfect 3-0 on the year with a team-leading 2.08 ERA.

The Kids Are Alright
Through 23 games, UCSB has gotten solid contributions from its freshmen and sophomores. The Gauchos everyday lineup regularly includes three freshmen and sophomores and, quite often, four or five. Leading the way among the youngsters are the three regulars. Sophomore catcher Chris McMurray, who belted his first home run of the season on Monday at Pepperdine, has been a rock behind the plate, throwing out 16 of a possible 33 would-be base stealers. McMurray has also been of of the team's most dependable offensive weapons and he is batting .300 with 18 hits in 60 at bats. Freshman second baseman Matt Valaika has started 22 of 23 games, and although he is hitting just .217, he is tied for the team-lead with seven doubles and two home runs. Since opening the year by going 0-for-14, sophomore shortstop Shane Carlson has started to get things going offensively. He is batting nearly .240 over the last 19 games. Carlson is one of four UCSB players to have started all 23 games this season. Freshman Cody Dee, listed as a catcher, has played in 13 games this season, including 10 starts, and he is batting .345 with a home run and 10 RBI. Another freshman, Gunnar Terhune, is batting .250 in 16 games, seven of which were starts, but he had a three-hit performance on Monday at Pepperdine. Finally, another freshman, Mike Ford, has been among UCSB's regular starting pitchers. He has started four games this season and has gone 1-1 with a 5.87 ERA. On the bright side, however, Ford has allowed just 22 hits in 23.2 innings and he has recorded 26 strikeouts.

Justin Time
Senior reliever Justin Segal pitched one shutout inning in the series against Pepperdeine, but he did not earn a save. He notched a save and a win in the previous series, a sweep of Loyola Marymount. Segal pitched a perfect three innings in the two games and since allowing a run on two hits on March 6, he has produced 7.1 innings of scoreless relief, allowing just one hit and no walks. Segal has seen action in 13 games this season and he is now UCSB's all-time leader in appearances with 88. In addition, his three saves give him 10 in his career, tied for sixth all-time.

Crazy Like A Fox
Chris Fox has given UCSB a pretty consistent lead-off hitter this season. He has played in and started 21 of 23 games and he has been on base in 17 of the 21 games. Fox has scored 14 runs this season and when he crosses the plate at least one time, the Gauchos have posted a solid 7-3 record. A transfer from El Camino College, Fox is tied for third on the team with 24 hits and also has 11 walks. His .398 on base percentage is tied for second among all regulars.

Don't Look Now, The Big West Season Is On The Horizon
Following their three game series in Fort Worth, Texas this weekend, the Gauchos will enter Big West Conference play in earnest. UCSB opens league play on Thursday, April 5 when it travels to UC Riverside for the first of a three-game series. Because of the Easter Holiday, the series against the Highlanders will be on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. The following weekend, Santa Barbara will play Pacific in a three-game set at Caesar Uyesaka Stadium. Four of UCSB's seven Big West series this year are at home.