It has been five years since Westmont College beat the UCSB baseball team. Judging by this year’s numbers that streak is not about to change.
The schools will clash today at 2 p.m. at Russ Carr Field in Montecito for the 99th meeting ever between the teams.
After breaking out of a 10-game slide on Saturday, the Warriors (3-11) have won only one of their last 11 games.
“We have been fairly consistent with our hitting,” Westmont third-year Head Coach Warren Dickey said. “But we have struggled on the mound and on defense.”
The Gauchos (8-9) have won six of their last eight games and their pitching staff has allowed only 12 runs over the last 37 innings. The staff has compiled a 2.92 ERA in UCSB’s last four games.
Santa Barbara plans to equally disperse the pitching load today. Freshman right-hander Michael Martin will throw the first three innings with freshman Steve Morlock and juniors Jared Edrosolan, Rich Sorenson and Ivan Ramirez looming in the bullpen.
Westmont will counter with sophomore Marcus Gillette (0-1). The right-hander will make his first start of the season after compiling a 16.20 ERA in five innings out of the bullpen.
The Warriors’ 2003 squad is comprised of just 20 players and only two seniors. Senior catcher Andrew Bouman has provided the power for the Warriors with four home runs this season. Sophomore Scott Knox leads the team with 19 RBI.
The Warriors are still gleaming from Saturday’s dramatic ninth-inning 7-6 win, their first since Feb. 1. Sophomore Dominick Paluso’s last-inning, lead-off home run made the difference in defeating Kean College of New Jersey.
“We hope that spark is going to get us going,” Dickey said.
UCSB beat Westmont convincingly both times the schools faced in 2002. In their first meeting on March 26, the Gauchos scored in every inning en route to a 16-5 victory. On April 25, UCSB jumped all over the Warriors 14-3. The Gauchos lead the all-time series 75-23.
“These games against the Gauchos provide us with a very stiff challenge,” Dickey said. “Going against the best only makes you better.”
UCSB volunteer coach John Kirkgard will return to Russ Carr Field, adding a sentimental perspective to today’s matchup. Kirkgard was the Warriors’ skipper from 1984 to 1996 and posts the highest winning percentage in school history. Dickey coached under Kirkgard from 1987 to 1992.
“I spent 17 years of my life over there including my college career,” Kirkgard said. “It’s an enjoyable experience.”
UCSB is five games into a stretch of eight games in 10 days after Tuesday’s 6-3 exhibition win against Keio University of Japan. UCSB Head Coach Bob Brontsema said the prolonged stretch benefits his team.
“We’re definitely challenging our [pitching] staff and its depth,” Brontsema said. “We want to play a lot of games in a short period of time because that’s what you’re going to have to do in a [playoff] regional.”