The UCSB baseball team will be in Los Angles today to face Loyola Marymount in a three-game series.
The Gauchos are coming off an 8-3 whipping of Westmont, and have now won three out of their last four games. Santa Barbara has benefited from a regular practice schedule this week, and UCSB feels that it may finally be finding its groove.
"I think we’re finally getting into a rhythm," Head Coach Bob Brontsema said. "We still need to practice more so everybody can get involved. The bench players haven’t been able to get enough action."
Santa Barbara has displayed a powerful lineup this season, averaging nearly 10 runs a game in its last four games. However, the Gauchos believe that they are capable of putting even more runs on the board.
"I don’t think we were focused heading into the Westmont game," Brontsema said. "I think we thought that we could just show up and win, so that’s a big part of the scoring problem."
The All-Big West trio of senior third baseman Dave Molidor, senior second baseman Chad Peshke and junior first baseman Tyler Von Schell has led the UCSB offense thus far this season. The fourth member of that infield, senior shortstop Jeff Bannon, has also enjoyed a strong offensive campaign, hitting .400 with six RBIs and scoring nine runs.
"It’s been good to get in some practices," Bannon said. "We feel capable of playing some of our best ball now, and the team is confident and ready to get going."
Pitching has been a pleasant surprise this season for UCSB, with the team ERA at 5.93. The Gauchos will send senior Rylie Ogle, junior James Garcia and sophomore Jim Bullard to the mound against LMU.
"Our pitching has been really solid this year," Bullard said. "This year everybody throws strikes and gets good results. We just try to keep us in the game for the offense to win it."
UCSB realizes that it must improve if it is to contend for the Big West title this spring, but the Gauchos know better than to look past LMU.
"They are not to be taken lightly," Bannon said. "But if we play some good baseball, we should be able to take at least two out of three games."