The UCSB baseball season may seem like it began just last week, but it’s actually been a full three months and 43 games since San Diego State rolled into town that sunny opening weekend in February.

With just 10 games remaining in their 2003 campaign, the Gauchos are staring back at a season that could have been something spectacular. Santa Barbara has lost 11 of its last 12 games after heading into conference play on a five-game winning streak. The Gauchos have won just twice since their April 2 victory over Westmont College, but there is a light at the end of this dark tunnel for Head Coach Bob Brontsema’s squad.

UCSB opens a three-game series at Matador Field today against nonconference foe Cal State Northridge. The Matadors allowed the Gauchos to take their only series sweep of the season during the final weekend in March. Santa Barbara used a heroic ninth inning rally in the finale to cap off the weekend. All three Gaucho starters that weekend – senior Sean Thompson, sophomore Eric Posthumus and junior Matt Vasquez – were awarded victories.

CSUN (11-36, 5-7 in the Big West) has since won only five of its last 14 games, but all five wins have come at the hands of conference opponents. Unlike UCSB, the Matadors have been able to execute in conference play and at one point took back-to-back games from nationally ranked Cal State Fullerton and Long Beach State.

Last weekend, as the Gauchos (19-24, 2-10) took one of three from Long Beach State, Northridge traveled to play Irvine. CSUN defeated the Anteaters on Friday and Sunday only to fall to Pepperdine 9-4 in Tuesday’s nonconference game.

The Matadors, hitting .261 as a team, are led by sophomore second baseman Drew Aguailar (.314) and senior catcher Brett Cayton (.309) at the plate. Senior first baseman Aaron McKenzie and sophomore right fielder Keith Bowman are tied for the team lead with four home runs, and Bowman has driven in a team-high 19 RBIs.

Friday’s opener will pit Northridge sophomore Edward Camacho (1-8) against Vasquez (2-4). On Saturday, Kyle Jean (0-7) will oppose UCSB freshman Michael Martin (2-2). Leo Rosales (4-6) will take the ball in the finale against the left-handed Thompson (5-5).

Northridge is currently tied for fifth place in the conference with the Anteaters while the Gauchos are cellar-dwelling, two games behind University of the Pacific.