Aug. 9, 2004
SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - UC Santa Barbara shortstop Chris Valaika acquired some new jewelry this summer, helping the USA Baseball National Team capture the gold medal at the FISU World University Championships in Tainan, Taiwan. In the championship game on Aug. 1, center fielder Drew Stubbs of Texas hit the game-winning two-run triple in the fifth inning as the national team came from behind to defeat Japan 4-2 in Tainan Stadium. The victory capped a perfect 8-0 run through the seven-team tournament, and vindicated a five-game sweep at the hands of the Japanese in July. The American squad, coached by Loyola Marymount's Frank Cruz, won 12 of its final 14 games and finished its 25-game summer tour with an 18-7 overall record. Valaika played in 18 games for Team USA - starting 10 - and batted .239 with one home run and 10 RBI. He started the FISU title game at second base, going one-for-two with a run scored. The Newhall, Calif., native earned starts in three other tourney contests.