Four games in three days will close out the 2012 UCSB baseball season as the Gauchos travel to Bakersfield to take on Cal State Bakersfield and the University of Utah this weekend. A double-header against Utah and Cal Sate Bakersfield will take place this afternoon, followed by a second game against Utah tomorrow, and the final game of the weekend against Cal State Bakersfield on Sunday.
“We’ve got to get quality starts out of our pitchers,” Head Coach Andrew Checketts said. “Instead of using three or four guys out of the bullpen in one game, if we can just use one guy who can close out a game, [we can] save our other arms.”
UCSB currently stands at No. 8 in league, ahead of last place Pacific. The Gauchos hold a 10-14 record in conference and a 25-27 mark overall. Utah stands at the bottom of the Pac-12 with a 7-23 conference record, while Cal State Bakersfield, a WAC affiliate, enters the weekend 22-29 overall.
The Gauchos have yet to face Utah this season, though the Utes have competed against Big West opponents earlier in the year. Utah lost three of four games at UC Davis in February, the same Aggie squad that UCSB beat twice during a three-game series in April. The Utes are led by junior catcher Parker Morin, who bats with a .317 average and a .420 slugging percentage.
Cal State Bakersfield will be a much more familiar foe; the Gauchos lost both games they played against the Roadrunners this season. The first was a 7-6 loss on March 6, and the second an 8-2 flop on April 3.
“In the second game, they just flat out kicked our butts,” Checketts said. “They outplayed us. They threw their best pitcher and he was really good that day.”
Cal State Bakersfield senior righthander Spenser Messmore gave up just six hits and two runs in a full nine innings pitched during the April 3 game, and will likely see more action against UCSB this coming weekend.
On the mound for the Gauchos tomorrow will be a pair of lefthanders in senior Kevin Gelinas and freshman Andrew Vasquez, who currently leads the league with a 2.08 ERA.
“Kevin is more of a fastball guy … he has a stronger arm and more velocity,” Checketts said. “Andrew is a breaking ball guy, he has more movement and changes speed well.”
The Gauchos are out of contention for the 2012 post-season, but after beating USC 6-3 this past Tuesday at home, they will attempt to take advantage of any traces of momentum going in to the final games of the regular season.
“I was really pleased with our effort on Tuesday,” Checketts said. “We were pitching offensively and we had dugout energy. Sometimes when you’re out of the playoff race you don’t see that often, but I was pleased to see that [the players] continued to work.”
UCSB will first face Utah at 2:00 p.m. today, followed by Cal State Bakersfield at 7:00 p.m. Both games will take place at Hardt Field on the Cal State Bakersfield campus.