March 29, 2004

Gauchos Riding Five-Game Winning Streak After Sweep of Cornell

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March 29, 2004

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. -
Upcoming Schedule
Games No. 27, 28, 29, 30
UC Santa Barbara Gauchos at
Loyola Marymount Lions and Sacramento State Hornets

UCSB Update
The Gauchos set all sorts of school records last week in their five dominating wins over Cornell. After downing the Big Red 12-1 and 12-6 in the first two games of last week's five-game stretch, the Gauchos welcomed Cornell back from Cal Poly with a record-setting 31-3 walloping. In the two games following the Gauchos continued to overpower with 11-1 and 5-1 victories. In Thursday's 28-run win, UCSB set a new school record with 30 RBI in a game, twice tied the school record for at-bats in an inning with 14 and fell one run shy of tying the record for most runs in a game (32). Over the five games, junior second baseman Chris Malec collected 11 hits and 11 RBI while posting a .611 batting average. Malec's high-school teammate and fellow 2002 Freshman All-American Matt Wilkerson hit .412 over the week with a breakout 12 RBI performance. Sixteen of seventeen Gaucho position players collected at least one hit against Cornell as UCSB raised its team batting average to .315. Santa Barbara outscored Cornell 71-12. Overshadowed by the offensive fireworks was the Gaucho pitching staff, which posted a 2.00 ERA in the five games. Sophomore right-hander Michael Martin picked up two wins while right-handers Steve Morlock, Andy Graham and Loren Fraser all tallied victories as well.

On Deck
Riding its longest winning streak to date this season, the Gauchos will play four games on the road this week before beginning conference play against No. 12 UC Irvine on April 8. UCSB will travel to Los Angeles on Tuesday to take on Loyola Marymount before heading north for the weekend for a three-game series with Sacramento State.

Taking the Hill vs. LMU and Sacramento State
Tuesday - RHP Steve Morlock - 3-4, 5.31 ERA, 39.0 IP, 21 K
Friday - RHP Michael Martin - 7-0, 3.02 ERA, 50.2 IP, 21 K
Saturday - RHP Andy Graham - 1-1, 3.09 ERA, 32.0 IP, 16 K
Sunday - RHP Steve Morlock

Conference Play Approaching
After Tuesday's 2 p.m. game at Loyola Marymount, the Gauchos will officialy be over half way through their 2004 regular season schedule. Once UCSB has returned from Sacramento State this weekend, it will be on to No. 12 UC Irvine on April 8 to begin Big West Conference play. With just one team in the conference under .500, this year's Big West rivalries should explosively heat up. Nationally ranked UC Irvine and No. 13 Long Beach State are a combined 36-13 and the Dirtbag's Jered Weaver, a preseason All American, just tied a school record for strikeouts in a game (16). Pacific's new head coach and former Major Leaguer Ed Sprague has turned the Tigers into a competitive force and Larry Lee's Cal Poly spent the season's first few weeks in the national top 25 polls.

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 2001 squad 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 Lions
Since Loyola Marymount's 11-9 victory over the Gauchos on March 9, the Lions have gone 5-7-1, including four more West Coast Conference wins. Overall, LMU stands at 16-6-1 and 7-2 in the WCC. The Lions are hitting .271 as a team and post a 5.57 team ERA. Still leading the way at the plate is sophomore Kyle Mura with a .347 batting average. The third baseman has 35 hits, including three home runs, and has driven in a team-high 24 RBI. Clint McGill, Jonathan Higashi, and Billy Lockin are the other three Lions hitting above .300. Loyola's expected starting pitcher for Tuesday against the Gauchos, right-hander Kevin Jensen is 0-0 with a 12.41 ERA in 12.1 innings of work. The start will mark the first of the year for the senior who has struck out eight and walked 12. The Lions enter the game with a two-game winning streak after taking the final two games of their three-game weekend series against Gonzaga.

Series Record
With the Lions claiming an 11-9 victory over the Gauchos in the team's first meeting earlier this month, LMU now boasts a 56-55 all-time lead over UCSB. Before their March 2 meeting this season, UCSB took two of three from Loyola last year in Los Angeles.

Head Coach Frank Cruz
Frank Cruz is in his eighth season directing the LMU baseball program. Cruz was selected by USA Baseball in January as head coach of the 2004 national team.

Scouting the Hornets
Sacramento State will greet the Gauchos at Hornet Field this weekend with a 19-15 overall record. The Hornets, who left the Big West Conference after the 2002 season and have remained an independent team, are 10-7 at home and have posted a .283 team batting average. They will enter the series with a four-game winning streak, having just taken four straight from Pacific over the weekend. Senior Jack Arroyo has been leading the Hornets with a .347 season average. The infielder has knocked four home runs and 9 RBI and has started in all 34 of Sacramento State's games. Fellow senior John Acha leads the squad with 30 RBI and eight home runs. He is posting a .338 average. On the mound, it's been junior right-handers Ethan Katz and Warren Rosbreock leading the way with a combined 10-4 record. Katz has an impressive 2.95 ERA while Rosebrock has posted a 3.84 mark. The Gauchos should expect to see both hurlers throughout the weekend along with the rest of the Hornet staff which has a 5.03 team ERA.

Series Record
UCSB holds a 22-16 all-time edge over the Hornets. Last year at Caesar Uyesaka Stadium, the Gauchos took two of three from Sacramento State, winning the final two games 4-3 and 11-1.

Head Coach John Smith
Head Coach John Smith is in his 26th year at the helm of the Hornets. A graduate of Sacramento State in 1973, Smith has piloted the Hornets to a 724-674 record. Last year under Smith, the Hornets finished 33-24, the fifteenth winning season of his career.

Gaucho Notes
Malec Honored by Big West Conference
Junior second baseman Chris Malec was named Co-Big West Player of the Week on Monday, March 1, by the conference. The Laguna Niguel, Calif., native exploded for a .368 batting average over four games that week while driving in ten RBI and scoring four runs. In the Gauchos' 22-9 victory over Fresno State on Feb. 28, Malec went 3-for-6 with five RBI and two doubles. He collected hits in each of the Gauchos' games during the week. Malec also stole two bases over the week and posted a .474 slugging percentage. The selection was a first for Malec and also marked the first time any Gaucho had been awarded the honor since Mike Kolbach on April 23, 2001.

Freshman On Fire
Rookie shortstop Chris Valaika has been nothing short of exceptional over the past month. The right-handed hitting freshman is hitting .369 since the ninth game of the season. He has racked up 24 hits, including four doubles, a triple and three home runs, and has driven in 13 RBI. After UCSB's first eight games, Valaika was batting an unimpressive .194, now after 26 contests he is fifth on the team with a .309 mark, meaning he has raised his clip .115 points over 65 official at-bats.

Caution... Records Falling!
In their 31-3 rout over Cornell on March 25, the Gauchos set a new school record for RBI, twice tied the school record for at-bats in an inning, fell one run short of tying the school record for runs in a game and set new season highs for runs, hits, RBI, doubles, home runs, totals bases and walks. UCSB tallied a total of 30 RBI, surpassing the mark of 28 set by the 1979 and 1997 squads and also knocked out 27 hits, including six doubles and four round-trippers.

Caution... Records Falling! Part 2
With 22 fielding assists, the Gauchos also set a new school record for assists in a game on March 27 against Cornell. The total eclipses the mark of 19 set against USC in 1990.

Bench Production
If other teams are wondering why UCSB has been so productive at the plate this season, they can just look at the Gauchos' bench numbers. Santa Barbara's pinch-hitters are hitting .286 (12-for-42). Overall, Gaucho nonstarters are hitting .384 with 27 runs and 26 RBI. Oppositely, opponent's pinch-hitters are just 3-for-24.

Getting the Job Done
Gauchos batters are hitting .317 with runners in scoring position. Compared to their opponents mark in that situation of .268, it is easy to see why UCSB is outscoring its opponents by 78 runs [See next note].

Lopsided Competition
With 27 games remaining on the schedule, the Gauchos are just 73 runs away from tying their entire run production from 2003. Outscoring their opponents 219-141, UCSB is averaging 8.68 runs per game, compared to 5.45 runs per game for UCSB competition. Interestingly, the only two innings in which Santa Barbara is being outscored are the first (19-30) and the ninth (5-7). In all other frames, such as the seventh where UCSB is pummeling its opponents 35-13, the Gauchos are outdoing the competition by at least five runs.

Caesar Uyesaka Construction
The third base side of Caesar Uyesaka Stadium will be under construction for the remainder of the 2004 season. Beginning on March 21, ground was broke for a new state-of-the-art clubhouse facility for UCSB baseball. Please pardon the dust and disturbance when at UCSB home games.