April 23, 2001
This Week In Gaucho Baseball (TWIGB)
Friday, April 27, 2 pm - Pacific*
Saturday-Sunday, April 28-29, 1 pm - Pacific*
Big West Big Time
With six of the conference's best ten hitters wearing UCSB uniforms, it's no wonder the Gauchos lead the Big West and are among the nation's leaders with a .347 team batting average. UCSB's Molidor (.415), Kolbach (.415) and Schumaker (.403) boast the top three hitting marks in the Big West, but the Gauchos are also hitting for power. The team's 155 extra-base hits lead the league, as do its 94 doubles and 15 triples and 335 RBI in 40 games. Stringham, Molidor and Von Schell lead the conference in slugging, while the latter two share the league lead with 51 RBI. Von Schell's 14 home runs and 112 total bases are second to none. On the hill, Ogle, Garcia and Bullard rank second, third and sixth, respectively in wins, while Garcia's 75 Ks are good for third. At 29-11 overall and 4-2 in Big West play, the Gauchos are currently tied for third with Cal Poly, one game behind Long Beach State and 2.5 behind Cal State Fullerton. Fullerton will play UC Riverside in a non-conference series this weekend, while Long Beach State will host Cal State Northridge.
Designated hitter Mike Kolbach (Cole-bock) killed Sac State over the weekend, and was named Big West Player of the Week for his services. The Anaheim product went 9-for-15 in the three-game series. That included the first five-hit game by a Gaucho since 1998, a 5-for-5, three-RBI and three-run Game 1. Kolbach followed that up with a sixth straight hit, a single in his first at-bat of Game 2. Kolbach won Game 3 for UCSB when he capped a 3-for-5 effort with a tenth-inning RBI single through the right side to score Ryan Spilborghs and put the Gauchos up 8-7. Hitting .456 since the third week of the season, Kolbach has raised his average to .415, tied for first on the team. He is the second Gaucho to earn conference Player of the Week honors this season (Bannon).
Righthanded ace James Garcia is proving to be, quite simply, unbeatable. At 7-1 on the season, his 2.90 ERA leads the staff. In his start Friday at Sac State, Garcia allowed four runs, two earned, on eight hits in eight innings while striking out five and walking one. On the season, UCSB is 8-3 in Garcia's 11 starts, but when the staff ace has left the game, the Gauchos have been behind only once, when Garcia lost 6-5 to Santa Clara pitching on three days rest. Garcia has allowed more than three earned runs just twice this season, once in the Gauchos' opener at San Jose State and once against Santa Clara. His 80.2 innings, 75 strikeouts and the .234 opponents are hitting against him all lead the staff.
If you've heard that yell coming from the Gaucho dugout lately, chances are right fielder Ryan Spilborghs just threw somebody out at the home plate nearest you. The Santa Barbara native gunned a Sacramento State runner at the dish in Game 2 Saturday and narrowly missed getting another Hornet Sunday. Since March 13 at USC, Spilly, who leads Gaucho outfielders with five assists, has thrown out four opponents trying to score. Coincidentally, Spilborghs is also hitting .441 since that game, second on the team in that span. Furthermore, since March 24 vs. Dartmouth, Spilborghs has a 19-game hit streak going, tied for the longest by a Gaucho this year (Von Schell). 12 of those 19 games have been multi-hit efforts, including the last five straight. Spilborghs has raised his batting average to .372 on the season, fifth on the team. He is also fourth with 39 runs, fifth with 33 RBI and has stolen 12 bags in 13 tries.
Who's The Man?
Bob Brontsema returns for his eighth season as Gaucho skipper. He owns a career record of 205-202 (.504). Brontsema's 200th win came April 7 vs. UC Riverside, a 7-2 triumph. UCSB's best record under Brontsema came in 1996, when it went 32-20 overall and 14-7 in Big West games, good for an NCAA Regionals appearance. With his 28-25 finish in 2000, Brontsema has posted two straight over-.500 campaigns, the school's first such achievement since 1992.
Gaucho Baseball: Who's Next?
It's not the California Lottery, but it's still pretty darn exciting. UCSB will host Pacific (20-23, 1-8) in its third Big West Conference series of the year this weekend. Jason Walker (.368, 15 2B, 3 HR) and Rick Morton (.345, 12 HR, 49 RBI) lead the Tiger offense. D.J. Houlton (6-4, 4.40) and Walker (5-5, 5.15) have been the team's best starting pitchers.