1999 Gaucho Baseball Review
Coming off a disappointing 18-31 season in 1998, the Gaucho baseball team had many questions heading into 1999. Fortunately for UCSB, most of those questions were answered as the Gauchos excelled to a 27-26 record, finishing above .500 for the first time since 1996.
After a slow start, the Gauchos quickly turned things around the third weekend of play, taking two out of three from Loyola Marymount. UCSB followed up this performance by winning two straight against UCLA. The following weekend the Gauchos won two out of three from Santa Clara, giving them six victories in eight games. Other highlights for UCSB included defeating defending national champions USC and taking two out of three from then-24th ranked Nevada. Overall the Gauchos won seven games against teams that advanced to the NCAA Regionals.
Gaucho seniors Brad Wright and Bryan LaCour were two of the key ingredients for UCSB's winning recipe. Wright started all 53 games for the Gauchos, playing right field in 52 of them. Not only did he anchor the outfield with consistently great defense, he was also one of the Gaucho's best hitters. Wright led the team in batting (.377), runs scored (54), hits (84), and stolen bases (10), earning himself First Team All-Big West honors. For his career Wright ranks among the UCSB top ten in several categories. The San Marcos, California native is sixth in average (.361), seventh in at bats (654), seventh in runs scored (152), seventh in hits (236), and sixth in doubles (43). What makes Wright's numbers even more impressive is that he accomplished them in just three years at UCSB.
Despite having to make the move from third to first base this season, senior Bryan LaCour proved to be one of UCSB's most valuable players. LaCour led the Gauchos in RBI with 48 and was named Second Team All-Big West despite having his season cut short from a broken hand. Like his counter part, LaCour ranks among many of the Gaucho top ten lists for hitting. LaCour ranks ninth in hits (181), fifth in doubles (44), seventh in home runs (22), and fifth in RBI (161). Like Wright, LaCour was able to accomplish all this in just three years.
Three UCSB sophomores proved to be the present as well as the future for UCSB. Third baseman Dave Molidor ended the season with a .361 average, eight home runs, 44 RBI, and a .560 slugging percentage. A dramatically improved defensive player, Molidor was named to the Big West Honorable Mention team. Shortstop Jeff Bannon also made great strides for UCSB, hitting a team-leading 13 home runs, driving in 46 RBI, and batting his way to a .557 slugging percentage. Second baseman Chad Peshke was also a major contributor, batting .316, hitting three home runs and 12 doubles, and driving in 41 runs. This threesome will return next year and will not only anchor the infield but also make up the middle of the Gaucho batting order. Gaucho pitching made improvements over last year's squad, dropping their ERA nearly a full point. Junior transfer Gabe Neboyia was one major reason for the Gaucho improvement as he led the team in complete games (3) and innings pitched (100) while compiling a 5.67 ERA. Junior left-hander Troy Kinto came on strong at the end of the season, pitching back-to-back complete games against Nevada and Pacific and earning Big West Pitcher of the Week honors. Freshman Chris Quiroz also had an outstanding season, setting a single season UCSB save record (10) and earning Collegiate Baseball Freshman All-American honors.