Today, junior left-hander Mario Hollands pitches his last game as a Gaucho against Pacific in the first game of the Gauchos’ last three-game series of the season. The Tigers’ 12-9 conference record puts them in third place in the Big West behind 14-7 UC Irvine and 18-3 Cal State Fullerton.
Along with Long Beach State, the Gauchos occupy last place in the Big West with a 7-14 conference record. Since Head Coach Bob Brontsema took the reins 17 seasons ago, UCSB has never finished a season at the bottom of the pack.
[media-credit id=20108 align=”alignleft” width=”250″][/media-credit]“It’s disappointing,” Brontsema said. “We haven’t played up to our capabilities, but hopefully we can rectify [the situation] a little this weekend.”
After the series, the Gauchos will lose four of their seniors from the starting lineup. Brontsema believes that both right-handed junior Jesse Meaux and junior outfielder Mark Haddow have decent shots at being drafted high enough to justify forfeiting their senior years. With 17 stolen bases, Haddow is tied for fourth, but both have 17 in the Big West with senior infielder Gunnar Terhune. Pitching in the Sunday slot, Meaux leads the Gauchos with eight wins after walking only 14 batters this season.
“[Meaux’s] had an outstanding year,” Brontsema said. “I just hope that [if he gets drafted], it’s in a good position for him in regards to getting the type of money to move on.”
Both Friday and Saturday’s games will start at 6 p.m., while Sunday’s game will take place at 1 p.m.
And while the season may not have gone UCSB’s way, the Gauchos will continue to keep their spirits high in their final series.
“I can’t be too sad and disappointed [about the season],” Hollands said. My parents will be there. I kind of imagine I’ll have the same feeling [on the mound] as I did in my last high school playoff game. I have confidence there will be better times next year when I’m gone.”
As has been the norm for Hollands, two major league scouts were on hand for last Friday’s game to watch him pitch against UC Davis. Neither scout wanted their names on record, nor would they provide specific details about the skills that could give the El Cerrito native big-league potential.
“I will say that he’s got a pro body and a good arm,” the scout for the St. Louis Cardinals, who was observing Holland’s ability to throw breaking balls for strikes, said. “He’s improved in multiple areas since last year.”
Hollands, who struck out six with one earned run (five unearned) that day in his 5-6 loss to the Aggies, was drafted in the 24th round of last year’s major league draft to the Minnesota Twins. After throwing for a 3.66 ERA in 91 innings pitched, the El Cerrito native’s stock has likely risen since last year.
“I think he’ll go in a decent round,” Brontsema said. “He passed up going last year and came back, and I think the decision paid off for him.”
The major league draft notoriously occurs in June, without the fanfare of the NBA and NFL drafts, and expands over three days in Seacaucus, N.J. This year, the draft falls on June 7 and extends into finals week on June 9.
“I’d be a [San Francisco] Giant if I could,” Hollands added. “But I’ll go wherever they want me to go. I’m just waiting until finals week. I try not to think about the draft until it comes.”