Baseball In NCAA Regionals For First Time Since 1996, Heads To Notre Dame

May 21, 2001

This Week In Gaucho Baseball (TWIGB)
Friday, May 25, 5:30 pm pst - vs. Florida International (40-18)
Saturday-Sunday, May 26-27 - TBA
For ticket information, call (805) 893-UCSB

Back In Blue
The 2001 UCSB Gauchos, who wear blue and gold, are back in the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 1996. The Gauchos will enter the NCAA Regionals at 39-15 overall. UCSB has an all-time record of 5-15 in seven trips to the NCAA playoffs since the program's inception in 1947. In five Regionals showings since 1983, the Gauchos are 3-10, including an 0-8 streak since beating Loyola Marymount in 1986 before losing twice that year as well as in 1987, 1990 and 1996. 2001 will mark head coach Bob Brontsema's second postseason appearance as Gaucho skipper. In 1996, he led the 32-20 Gauchos to the West Regional at Stanford, where they lost 6-2 to Mississippi State and 10-1 to Florida State. Brontsema also went to Regionals in 1990, 1987 and 1986 as an assistant coach at UCSB, and in 1983 as the Gauchos' second baseman. Heading to Notre Dame, UCSB will make only its second playoff appearance out of California and its first-ever trip out of the West. UCSB went to Arizona State in 1990.

Who Are These Guys?
UCSB, seeded second in the four-team Regional at Notre Dame, will face Florida International (40-18) in the first round, while host and first seed Notre Dame (46-11-1) plays Wisconsin-Milwaukee (39-16). The Gauchos have never before faced any of the above teams. However, UCSB did go up against five teams who made the 2001 tournament and fared well against them. UCSB was a combined 10-6 vs. tournament teams in 2001. The Gauchos swept Temple in a doubleheader in early March, won two of three at Cal the next weekend, lost two Tuesday games with USC, beat Long Beach State two out of three both at home and in Long Beach, and took two of three from Cal State Fullerton two weekends ago.

Big West Big Time
UCSB finished the 2001 Big West Conference season at 12-6, good for second place. Conference champ Cal State Fullerton and third-place Long Beach State will also be at the NCAA Regionals. The Gauchos won their first five Big West Conference series, including beating Long Beach State twice at home and taking two games at overall top-seeded Cal State Fullerton on consecutive weekends. UCSB also took two out of three in Long Beach in two non-conference trips down south. The Gauchos finished the conference season by losing two out of three to Cal Poly at home. The second-place finish was UCSB's best since 1996, when it went 14-7 in conference games. UCSB has not won a Big West title since 1986.

Back In '01...
Without a doubt, the 2001 season has been one of the best in UCSB history. The 39-15 Gauchos have posted more wins than any team since 1990, when UCSB finished 40-22. Their .722 winning percentage is the highest in school history, slightly higher than the .703 standard set by the 45-19 1986 team which went 18-3 in conference play to capture the school's last Big West Championship. But the 2001 Gauchos didn't get to where they are by accident. This year's version of Gaucho Baseball has slugged its way to the highest batting average (.336) by a UCSB team since 1986 (.348). Its ERA (3.96) is the school's lowest since 1984 (3.24). The hitting mark was the Big West's best in 2001, while the ERA is the conference's second-lowest. The Gauchos notched three seven-game winning streaks this season, and from March 18 to May 5, steamrolled their way to a 23-4 hot streak. Included in that spell was a 6-1 showing at the Verizon/Rainbow Classic in Hawaii, where the Gauchos captured a tournament title.

Who's The Man?
Bob Brontsema is in his eighth season as Gaucho skipper. He owns a career record of 215-206 (.511). Brontsema's 200th win came April 7 vs. UC Riverside, a 7-2 triumph. UCSB's previous 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. His 39-15 mark thus far in 2001 is his third straight over-.500 campaign. It is also the first time a Gaucho team has finished in the black three consecutive years since a four-year spell from 1989-1992. Brontsema earned his BA in Liberal Studies at UCSB and his MA in Physical Education at Azusa Pacific.

The Celebrated Gaucho Infield, highly touted in this space prior to the 2001 season, has not disappointed. Around the horn, UCSB starts junior first baseman Tyler Von Schell, senior second baseman Chad Peshke, senior shortstop Jeff Bannon and senior third baseman Dave Molidor. The latter three are four-year starters, while Von Schell is a second-year starter but fourth-year player. The men hit third through sixth for the Gauchos. Peshke has started in all 211 games at UCSB in his four-year career and leads the team with 18 doubles. He is also the school record holder in hits and doubles. Molidor's ten home runs make him one of three Gauchos in double digits. Von Schell set the school record this season with 18 home runs and leads the team with 34 extra-base knocks. Bannon holds the school record for home runs by a shortstop with 31, including six this year.

G0 - Life Begins With Garcia And Ogle
Righty James Garcia and Lefty Rylie Ogle have been the Gauchos' 1-2 punch all season. Each man is 10-2 on the season, while Garcia is second on the team with a 2.63 ERA and Ogle fifth at 3.65. Garcia was twice named Big West Pitcher of the Year, Ogle once. Two weeks ago, Garcia beat Cal State Fullerton and became UCSB's first ten-game winner since current pitching coach Tom Myers went 10-1 in 1991. Last weekend, Ogle beat Cal Poly to get his tenth win and give UCSB two ten-game winners for the first time in school history. UCSB has won 23 of the 29 games the two men have started this season.

0.00 Is Pretty Low
Although we haven't confirmed it with conference officials, we're pretty sure Gaucho closer Jamie Gonzales at least tied the Big West record for ERA in conference games, at 0.00. Gonzo was nearly perfect in conference, appearing five times and tossing 6.2 scoreless innings. He allowed just two singles, walked none and struck out six in those games, notching a win and three saves. In fact, Gonzales has not allowed a run in his last ten appearances and hasn't given up an earned run in his last 15. In 18 innings of work over those 15 games, he has allowed three unearned runs on 11 hits, all singles, and five walks and has fanned 16. Perhaps more impressively, those 15 appearances have come since Gonzales settled into his closer role back on March 16. In other words, he has been nearly perfect as the Gauchos' fireman.

Ryan Spilborghs has been getting his fill at the plate lately, over the last 33 games, to be exact. The sophomore right fielder and Santa Barbara native has a school record 33-game hitting streak going, the longest such streak in the Big West this year. The NCAA record is 58 games, by Robin Ventura. The ninth-longest streak in NCAA history is 38 games. Spilly is hitting .415 (54-for-130) during The Streak, including a filling .448 (30-for-67) in Big West games. However, due to the Gauchos' healthy lineup of big eaters/hitters, the first-year starter comes to the plate ninth when the Gauchos face righthanded pitching, which is more often than not.

Big, Experienced Men At Bat
It's not a typo, the Gauchos do regularly send seven .300 hitters to the plate. And they aren't low-.300 hitters, either. Six Gaucho starters are hitting over .360, with four of them banging out hits at better than a .385 clip. Not only that, they are experienced .300 hitters. The average number of years the nine regular Gaucho starters have spent in college is 3.8. The Gauchos do start two sophomores, but both redshirted a year due to injury. Finally, not only are they experienced .300 hitters, they are experienced .300 hitters with power. For the first time in school history, UCSB's starting lineup boasts three men with ten or more home runs. All nine regular starters have chalked up ten or more extra-base hits.

Welcome, Matt
Freshman Matt Vasquez has not pitched like a freshman. Not lately, anyway. In his last eight appearances, six of them starts, the rookie and Santa Barbara native has an ERA of 2.51. On the season, the Freshman All-American candidate is 5-4 with a 3.20 ERA. But that doesn't tell the whole story. Vasquez has made quality starts against Columbia, Hawaii Pacific, Westmont, USC, Sacramento State, Long Beach State and UCLA. His last outing was his finest as a Gaucho. On May 15, Vasquez held UCLA to two unearned runs on three hits over seven innings. He has been the Gauchos' Tuesday starter the whole the second half of the season and made a weekend Big West start at Sacramento State on April 21, allowing four runs in 6.2 innings of work.

Upside Down
Although he's at the bottom of this page, sophomore center fielder Skip Schumaker has been at the top of the Gaucho lineup all season. The leadoff batter is the only Gaucho outfielder to have started every game in 2001. He is also the only Gaucho in the last 16 years to have bagged 94 hits, the second-highest total in the conference this year. 75 of those hits have come in 30 multi-hit games. Schumaker has tallied four hits three times and three hits nine times, both team bests. Doing what leadoff batters are supposed to do, he also leads the team with 59 runs scored and 19 steals.