May 7, 2001
This Week In Gaucho Baseball (TWIGB)
Friday-Saturday, May 11-12, 7 pm - at Cal State Fullerton* Sunday, May 13, 1 pm - at Cal State Fullerton*
At 35-12 and 9-3, UCSB is ranked 23rd nationally by Collegiate Baseball and 25th by Baseball America, and is having its best season since 1986 (45-19), the last time UCSB captured a Big West Conference title. All this comes just in time for the fast-approaching Zero Hour. The Gauchos are currently two games behind first place Cal State Fullerton, with Big West series at Fullerton and vs. Cal Poly remaining on the conference calendar. UCSB finished second in league in 1996, the year of its last NCAA Regionals appearance. Bob Brontsema's team has posted one six- and three seven-game winning streaks this season, including a 23-4 stretch from March 18 to May 5.
Especially Ryan Spilborghs. With a team batting average of .340 and eight regulars hitting over .300, UCSB certainly has its share of hit men. However, none has been more prolific of late than the sophomore right fielder from Santa Barbara High School. Spilly is fourth on the team with a .386 average, to go with ten doubles, 36 RBI and 45 runs. But that doesn't tell the whole story. Through the Gauchos' first 15 games, Spilly was hitting just .250. In the 32 games since then, he is hitting .445 (53-for-119). Not bad, but it's not quite the .500 (22-for-44) he's hitting in 12 Big West Conference games, either. And let's not forget the school record 26-game hitting streak the local boy has going, in which he is hitting .440 (44-for-100). Finally, Spilborghs has notched five outfield assists and made just three errors.
James Garcia (9-1, 2.62) had himself a week against Long Beach State, and the Big West agreed. Today the Conference named him Pitcher of the Week for the second time this season. Garcia saved the Gauchos' 12-inning win at Long Beach Tuesday by throwing a scoreless final inning. Friday, Garcia tossed his third complete game of the year, limiting the 49ers to four runs, two earned, on seven hits. In four Big West starts (three Fridays, one Thursday), Garcia has tossed three complete games and is 4-0 with a smallish 1.80 ERA. In 35.0 innings of work, he has allowed 30 hits and issued five walks, while striking out 31. The Torrance native has won his last eight decisions. In 11 starts over that time, he has allowed two earned runs or less ten times, and three earned runs only once. He has also struck out a career-high 11 batters three times in that stretch. Garcia and Rylie Ogle are each one win away from becoming the first Gaucho ten-game winner in ten years (Tom Myers, 1991).
No, Hunter S. Thompson is not taking over the college baseball beat, but senior closer Jamie Gonzales has been developing a style of his own lately, that of not allowing runs. Gonzales (2-1, 3.38 ERA, 7 saves) has not given up a run, of any kind, in his last 10.2 innings. In fact, he hasn't given up an earned run in his last 12 appearances, or 15.0 innings of work in which he is 2-0 with five saves and has struck out 14 and walked five. Last Tuesday at Long Beach State, Gonzo won and gave up just one hit in three scoreless innings. Saturday, he struck out two 49ers in a perfect ninth to notch his seventh save, three shy of the school record.
The Skipper, Too
Bob Brontsema returns for his eighth season as Gaucho skipper. He owns a career record of 211-202 (.511). 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 play a Big West Conference series at Cal State Fullerton this weekend. The Titans are ranked first by Collegiate Baseball and second by Baseball America. They are 38-11 and 11-1, two games ahead of UCSB in the Big West standings. The Titans have won 24 of their last 25 games. Kirk Saarloos (12-2, 1.87) has won his last 12 decisions, including seven complete games and four shutouts. Mike Rouse (.389, 14 2B, 6 HR, 42 RBI) is Fullerton's leading hitter. Last year, UCSB took one game in Fullerton, 1-6, 1-4 and 11-7.