The UCSB baseball team will host No. 2 UCLA today at Cesar Uyesaka Stadium. The game had been previously scheduled for last Tuesday, but due to weather conditions was moved to today. The Gauchos are currently tied for fifth with a 4-3 record in the Big West after two weeks of play. The Bruins come to town with a 4-2 record after taking two out of a three against Baylor on the road.
“We hope that the schedule can work in our favor with jet lag and the whole deal,” Head Coach Andrew Checketts said. “It will be fun for our guys. They didn’t come here just to play baseball, they came to play good baseball teams and that’s how you prepare for the postseason. It will be a good experience for our guys.”
The Bruins return home from Texas after taking games one and three from Baylor with a couple of one-run victories, sandwiching a 5-0 loss on the second game. Junior center fielder Brian Carroll went 6-12 on the weekend with three stolen bases, two runs scored and a RBI. The big weekend gives Carroll a .478 average so far on the young season, tops for the Bruins. As a team, UCLA is hitting .284 and slugging .351.
The Bruins’ pitching staff has been stellar so far this year. Each of the three starting pitchers holds a sub-2.20 ERA. Junior starting pitcher Adam Plutko was named as a preseason All-American and holds a 2.13 ERA and eight strikeouts in 12-and-two-thirds innings.
The Gauchos come into the matchup splitting a four-game series with San Francisco. Over the weekend, sophomore utility man Joe “Woody” Woodward went 6-11, which gave him a team-high .529 batting average. Woodward has done well with the playing time he has been given and has climbed to the top of the lineup. He leads the team with three stolen bases and a .600 on-base percentage over his 17 at bats.
“He just keeps doing it and doing it. He sure likes to play and he is really playing well and doing a lot of different stuff for us right now so he is really doing a good job,” Checketts said. “We moved him up in the order [Sunday] and he has just shown a lot of perseverance. He is really contributing for us.”
Sophomore first baseman Tyler Kuresa has also been an offensive force in the middle of the lineup so far. Kuresa enters today’s game having collected a base hit in each of the first seven games and leads the Gauchos with 11 hits, five extra base hits, six runs scored and is tied with six RBI.
Tuesday’s starting pitcher for the Gauchos is yet to be determined as many pitchers were used over the four-game weekend series. Saturday’s game two starting pitcher, freshman Kenny Chapman, pitched just two innings and threw 60 pitches leaving him potentially available.
“I’m not sure who we will go with, I need to see how the arms bounce back,” Checketts said. “We used everybody. We will see where we go. Maybe Kenny Chapman and maybe Domenic Mazza and see if Domenic can go out and be himself.”
First pitch for the one-game matchup against UCLA will take place at 2 p.m. at Caesar Uyesaka Stadium today.