The freight train known as the UCSB baseball team will head down the tracks to Los Angeles today to take on USC in a one-game matchup.
The Gauchos have won 13 out of their last 14 games, including a current six-game winning streak. Santa Barbara (25-8) is coming off of a weekend sweep of Riverside, in which UCSB outscored UCR by a combined margin of 36-11.
Despite their current role, the Gauchos have reason to be wary of USC. The Trojans put a hurting on Santa Barbara earlier this season in Caesar Uyesaka Stadium, winning 12-5. Nevertheless, UCSB feels confidant that it can come away with a victory.
“I don’t think we’ve done too much so far this season,” senior third baseman Dave Molidor said. “We’ve been beating teams we should beat. If we beat a team like USC that would be big. Personally, I think we’re good enough to beat them.”
A big reason for the Gauchos early season success has been the pitching staff. The trio of senior Rylie Ogle, junior James Garcia, and sophomore Jim Bullard have produced quality start after quality start, compiling a combined 22-5 record, with a 3.79 ERA. But UCSB’s pitching doesn’t drop off after the Big Three. Santa Barbara’s overall team ERA is a paltry 4.04, thanks in a large part to freshman hurler Matt Vasquez, who will get the start against USC.
“Our goal is to go down there and prove we can compete with [USC],” Vasquez said. “As a pitcher, my goal is to keep them under three runs, and if we get our regular 10 hits we’ll come away with a win.”
If Vasquez is only expecting 10 hits from his offense, then he may be pleasantly surprised on Tuesday. The Gauchos lineup has been consistently averaging over a dozen hits a game, making opposing pitchers pay for their mistakes. In fact, Santa Barbara has hit so well that it leads all of college baseball with a.357 team batting average. Bolstering the lineup has been junior first baseman Tyler Von Schell, who leads the team with 14 home runs, and Molidor, who leads the team with a .430 batting average.
When you put it all together you get a UCSB baseball team that can win with pitching and hitting, making it a team not to be taken lightly.
“When you beat a program like USC you get someone else out there to believe,” UCSB Head Coach Bob Brontsema said. “We still have our doubters out there and any time you pick up a win against USC you can prove your point a little more.”