After a disappointing weekend that saw the No. 20 UCSB baseball team drop from first to fourth in the conference standings and seven spots in the national rankings, it will look to begin a fresh start this week with a Tuesday game against St. Mary’s.
The Gauchos head into their second match-up with this team boasting a 25-10-1 record overall and a 5-4 Big West record. The Gaels host UCSB with a 22-15 record, 10-5 conference record and have lost four of their last six games.
These two teams are no strangers as they had an earlier match-up this season which saw St. Mary’s gut out a 7-4 victory after a five-run eighth inning. The loss was the first Santa Barbara had suffered this season after starting 4-0.
That loss was a brutal one for pitcher Trevor Bettancourt (2-1) who came in relief in the eighth inning and allowed five runs on five hits and credited with the loss.
However, the redshirt junior has bounced back mightily after that brutal 2/3’s inning of relief. Since then the righty has allowed only seven hits and one earned run in 15.2 innings pitched.
Part of the reason Bettancourt had such a rough time is because the Gaels have a slew of hitters that can take it to any pitcher in the collegiate level.
These hitters include players such as sophomores Zach Kirtley and outfielder Joey Fiske. The two sophomores rank first and second in batting average with .360 and .331 respectively.
Kirtley is first on the team in slugging percentage (.566) and on-base percentage (.473). The infielder is also tied for first in home runs (5), hits (49) and RBI (27).
Senior infielder Anthony Villa is another strong hitter for St. Mary’s as he is also tied for first with Kirtley in home runs and RBI.
Junior Nate Nolan is another viable hitter ranking second in hits (41), RBI (23), and slugging percentage (.500). The catcher had a solid game last time against UCSB going 3-5 (.600) with three RBI’s.
Although the Gaels are a strong hitting team, the Gauchos have their own slew of hitters that make them dangerous on any given day.
They are led by sophomore first baseman Austin Bush who leads the team in RBI (26) and is second in hits (35), and slugging percentage (.466). Redshirt junior outfielder Andrew Calica leads the team in hits (37) ranks second in on base percentage (.477) and fourth in batting average (.291).
Redshirt sophomores JJ Muno, a second baseman, and Josh Adams, designated hitter, both lead the team in home runs with four each. Adams also ranks second in RBI with a solid 23 on the season.
A player who has also come on as of late is redshirt junior Devon Gradford who now leads the team in batting average (.387) and slugging percentage (.486).
This weekday game will look to be a bounce back for the Gauchos. Although they are still having a solid season, being swept is never an easy thing to bounce back from especially with such a young team.
One problem facing Santa Barbara this game and the entire season is the fact that they are on the road. Currently the Gauchos are 5-9-1 away from Caesar Uyesaka Stadium and have lost four of their last six on the road.
This game against the Gaels is important to see not only how UCSB will respond to its three-game losing streak, longest of the season, and how it can try to avenge its loss to the Gaels earlier this season.
The Gauchos end their four-game road stand against St. Mary’s on today at 3 p.m. at Louis Guisto Field.
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. Clear eyes, full hearts, can’t lose.