Looking to continue its dominance from the weekend, the UCSB baseball team is hot on both sides on the field as it gets ready to take on one of its best opponents on the schedule, No. 21 UCLA.
The Gauchos come in to Tuesday’s home match-up with a solid 7-1 record and currently riding a three-game winning streak. The Bruins head to Caesar Uyesaka stadium with a 3-4 record, however, they are coming off their first series win of the season after taking two of three from Cal Poly SLO.
Although the No. 21 team in the country does not currently hold a .500 record, it is still one of the more dangerous teams in the country. UCLA has beaten quality opponents like No. 6 North Carolina and just recently beat Cal Poly SLO 19-0.
Leading the Bruins on the offensive charge is junior outfielder Kort Peterson. The Mountain View native currently leads the team in batting average batting .429 (10-24) and leads the team in hits with 10.
Senior Brett Urabe and redshirt senior Christoph Bono help on the bats as both are tied for first on their team in RBI with 5.
Another great thing UCLA saw on Saturday’s 19-0 win over SLO was the coming-out party for redshirt freshman Jarvis Scott. In his collegiate debut, the infielder got on base on all six plate appearances, went 5-5 with four runs, three RBI and one walk.
On the mound for the Bruins in this game will be freshman Justin Hooper. The left-handed pitcher has been somewhat shaky in his two innings pitched this season posting a 9.00 ERA after allowing three hits and two runs. Hooper should be weary of his opponents because if he is not careful, he will get blown out of the mound by UCSB’s great hitting prowess.
The Gauchos carry hot bats into Tuesday’s game coming off a great 36 run, 40 hit weekend that led them to winning the inaugural Tony Gwynn Classic. Just to shed some perspective, the Gauchos scored 36 runs in their three games this past weekend while the Bruins have only scored 40 runs in all of their games played so far this season.
One particularly hot player coming into this game is designated hitter, Austin Bush. The sophomore was named MVP this past weekend at the tournament for his .636 (7-11) BA, six RBI, six run performance. Bush is also first on the team and the Big West conference in batting average posting a .500 (10-20) BA. He is also second on the team in RBI with eight.
He is helped by third baseman Ryan Clark. One of two senior starters on the roster, Clark is also coming off a hot tournament performance in which he was name All-Tournament Honoree after posting a .583 (7-12) BA, seven RBI, two runs and one homerun—his first of the season.
The senior is tied for first on the team and tied for third in the Big West in RBI with 9 runners batted in so far. He is also third in the Big West conference in batting average posting a .481 (13-27) BA.
Second baseman J.J. Muno is also someone that cannot be forgotten about. The redshirt sophomore has had a great start to the season as he is tied for first on the team in homeruns and RBI with one and nine respectively. He is 19th in the conference in batting average with a .333 (11-33) BA.
On the mound for the Gauchos will be sophomore Chris Clements. The right-handed pitcher has had a solid start to the season posting a 2.16 ERA., 15th best in the conference, after allowing six hits and two runs on 8.1 innings pitched.
UCSB’s bullpen is led by sophomore Kyle Nelson who has had an amazing start to the season. In 9.1 innings pitched, the left-handed pitcher has only allowed three hits and no runs. He has also struck out 16 batters, first on the team and third best in the Big West.
Tuesday’s game will be an important one for the Gauchos. It will be a chance to beat a very well respected team in UCLA, gain even more momentum for the long season, and start to show that although they are young they are a team that should not be overlooked, instead feared.
Santa Barbara’s next game is Tuesday, March 1 against No. 21 UCLA at Caesar Uyesaka Stadium at 2 p.m.
Jorge Mercado is the current Editor in Chief and was a Sports Editor before that since freshman year. He prefers to be called Merk as that was his nickname given to him by the gods. Sometimes, his evil twin Mork appears. Clear eyes, full hearts, can’t lose.