Gauchos Host Titans In Big West Action

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April 22, 2004

Upcoming Schedule
Games No. 39, 40, 41
No. 30 Cal State Fullerton Titans at UC Santa Barbara Gauchos
Friday, April 23 at 2 p.m. (PST)
Saturday, April 24 at 1 p.m. (PST)
Sunday, April 25 at 1 p.m. (PST)

Having lost five of its last eight games, UC Santa Barbara will take on first place No. 30 Cal State Fullerton this weekend as part of a three-game Big West Conference series matchup. The Gauchos are coming off a tough weekend in which they were swept at home by UC Riverside after beating Cal State Northridge and Westmont College in mid-week, non-confernce games. UCSB currently sits alone in sixth place in the Big West, a full five games behind conference leading Cal State Fullerton and Long Beach State.

On Deck
With no mid-week games, UCSB has a full week to prepare for No. 30 Cal State Fullerton. The Titans, who boast 12 College World Series appearances and three national titles, just re-broke into the national rankings this week after starting Big West play a perfect 6-0. The Gauchos and Titans will play three-games at Caesar Uyesaka Stadium. Friday's game is scheduled for 2 p.m. while Saturday and Sunday's contests are set for 1 p.m.

A Look At Last Week
UCSB 10, CAL STATE NORTHRIDGE 4: Freshman shortstop Chris Valaika had three hits and drove in a career-high four RBI for UC Santa Barbara as the Gauchos defeated Cal State Northridge 10-4 in a non-conference matchup at Caesar Uyesaka Stadium. Junior right-hander Loren Fraser (4-1) picked up the victory for the Gauchos in just the second start of his career. Fraser allowed one run on four hits in his five full innings of work. UCSB 16, WESTMONT COLLEGE 4: The Gauchos scored in every inning but the seventh and tallied 15 hits in their second win over Westmont this season. Junior Eric Posthumus (1-0) had his best outing of the year and picked up his first win with six strong innings for UCSB. The right-hander shutout Westmont on just three hits while striking out seven. Senior designated hitter Taylor Vogt paced the Gaucho offense by launching his eighth home run of the year with the bases loaded in the fifth inning. The grand slam was the second of his career. Vogt finished 2-for-2 with two runs scored and tied a season-high with five RBI. UCR 8-18-5, UCSB 6-8-3: UC Riverside used seven home runs in three games to sweep the Gauchos in last weekend's Big West Conference series. The Highlanders overcame junior Matt Wilkerson's first inning grandslam to overtake UCSB 8-6 on Friday and then got two homers from designated hitter Nick Salotti on Saturday to oust UCSB 18-8. The 18 runs were the most given up by the UCSB pitching staff all year. Freshman Chris Valaika went deep for UCSB in the loss. Then on Sunday, UCR needed twelve innings to defeat the Gauchos 5-3. Riverside left-fielder Matt Cunningham delivered a one-out run-scoring single in the twlevth after the Gauchos rallied to tie the game at 3-3 back int he fifth.

Gauchos On the Air
Local Santa Barbara radio station KTLK 1340 AM will be broadcasting 12 of the remaining 16 games of UCSB's schedule. Brock Bowling will be on the call for KTLK along with other on-air personalities such as KEYT-TV's Jerry Fall. Other selected games can still be heard on UCSB's very own KCSB 91.9 FM with Danny MacLeith, Anna Olesen-Wheeler and Kelly Hayes.

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.

Gaucho Probables
Michael Martin (RHP)
Record: 8-2 ERA: 4.50 K/BB Ratio: 1.1:1
Sophomore looking to win his ninth game after suffering defeats in his last two outings against No. 10 UC Irvine and UC Riverside.

Andy Graham (RHP)
Record: 2-3 ERA: 4.32 K/BB Ratio: 1.9:1
Freshman only averaging 2.52 walks per nine innings.

Steve Morlock (RHP)
Record: 6-4 ERA: 4.36 K/BB Ratio: 1.2:1
Has not lost since March 6 at New Mexico

About the Titans
No. 30 Cal State Fullerton had its eight game winning streak snapped on Tuesday in a twelve-inning 5-4 loss to UCLA. Prior to Tuesday's game, the Titans had not lost since April 3 against then No. 7 Long Beach State. Fullerton was selected to finish first in the Big West Conference in the pre-season conference coaches' poll and was ranked pre-season No. 4 by Baseball America. After a slow start in which the Titans did not reach .500 until March 5, Fullerton fell out of the national rankings until this week when Collegiate Baseball listed them as No. 30. Fullerton will enter the weekend with a 23-17 overall mark but are 6-0 and in first place in the Big West. The Titans have swept Pacific and Cal State Northridge to begin their conference schedule. AT THE PLATE: With a Big West-leading .327 team batting average, the Titans are led by Clark Hardman, a left-handed hitting freshman outfielder. Hardman is batting .419 after 32 games and has only struck out ten times in 93 at-bats. However, Hardman is just one of eight Titans above the .300 mark. Catcher Kurt Suzuki leads the team with six home runs and 48 RBI. Defensively, though, Suzuki is only 5-23 in throwing out base runners. Projected Big West Player of the Year Danny Dorn is batting .303 with 40 hits and 37 RBI while junior third baseman Ronnie Prettyman leads the Titans with nine stolen bases. ON THE MOUND: The Gauchos will be facing three starting pitchers this weekend with a combined ERA of 3.37 and a 13-10 overall record. Right-hander Jason Windsor will bring his 3-4 record and 2.85 ERA to the mound on Friday. In 72.2 innings pitch, Windsor, a pre-season All-American, has struck out 62 batters. On Saturday, UCSB will see southpaw Ricky Romero. The sophomore is 7-3 with a 3.69 ERA. He leads the team with 85.1 innings pitched and 73 strikeouts. In the finale, the Titans will send right-hander Mike Martinez to the mound. Martinez began the season expecting to see time as the Titans closer, but has made two starts and posts a 3-1 record and a 3.53 ERA. As a staff, Fullerton has a 4.26 ERA and has allowed as many home runs (25) as its offense as hit.

Series Record Cal State Fullerton leads the all-time series record between the two schools 76-29. Last year, the Titans swept the Gauchos at Goodwin Field and in 2002 took all three games from UCSB at Caesar Uyesaka Stadium. The last time UCSB beat the Titans was in 2001, when the Gauchos took two of three from CSF on the road.

MALEC HONORED BY BIG WEST: 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.

GAUCHOS AGAINST THE NATION: UCSB has only committed 34 errors in 38 games so far this season. The Gauchos team fielding percentage of .977 is good for fourth best in the entire nation. Creighton University, which holds the best fielding percentage of any NCAA Division 1 team is only .002 percentage points ahead of UCSB at .979. Offensively the Gauchos are also turning heads around the country. UCSB's 8.4 runs per game mark is the 18th best mark in the nation. Senior Nate Sutton is helping to lead that charge with 1.37 runs per game. He ranks tenth among all players in that category.

ACCORDING TO BOYD: Boyd's World, a college baseball website featuring alternative statistics and rankings to the mainstream polls, lists UCSB as the 53rd best team in the nation in terms of Iterative Strength Rating (ISR). ISR is a measure of team quality for NCAA Division I baseball based on record and strength of schedule. also lists the Gauchos as 94th with a .521 "pseudo-RPI" ranking.

FRESHMAN ON FIRE: Freshman shortstop Chris Valaika has not disappointed Gaucho fans despite extremely high expectations entering the season. The 18-year old from Newhall, Calif., is third on the squad with a .325 average. He is second with six home runs and has been extremely sure-handed in the field. Being the lone Gaucho to have never missed a single pitch in UCSB's 38 games this season, Valaika has only made nine errors at shortstop, good for a .957 fielding percentage. He also leads the Big West in assists with 134.

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 and totals bases. 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. Then on March 30 against LMU, 15 patient UCSB batters drew walks, setting a new school record for bases on balls in a game.

ALREADY BETTER THAN LAST YEAR: In its 16-4 victory over Westmont College on April 14, UCSB surpassed its total run output from 2003 as the Gauchos scored their 302nd run of the season. Last year, UCSB finished with 293 runs. UCSB also passed last year's total of 261 RBI that day as the Gauchos racked up 13 more, bring their 2004 total to 269. Currently, UCSB has 319 runs scored and 286 team RBI after 38 games. Santa Barbara has also been collecting bases on balls at a torrid pace. The team's 201 walks is nearly 40 more than the 2003 Gauchos had.

MALEC KNOCKING 'EM IN BUNCHES: Not only does Malec lead the Gauchos with 41 RBI, he also leads the Big West Conference with 12 multiple-RBI performances. Eight times the junior has collected two RBI in a game, three times he has totaled three and on February 28, Malec knocked in five RBI.

MELTDOWN ON THE MOUND: On April April 17 in their lopsided loss to UC Riverside, the Gaucho pitching staff surrendered a season-high 18 runs, 17 of which were earned. Prior to that game, the most runs UCSB had given up was 11 (Feb. 14 vs. San Jose State and March 9 vs. LMU).

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.