The Gaucho baseball team might not be heading for the playoffs, but plenty of guys have still been getting the job done on the field this season.
UCSB’s mediocre year has seemingly overshadowed some very impressive individual performances that have been on display since February. Although this season’s squad differs in makeup and success in comparison to Santa Barbara’s 2001 team, which saw 12 players sign professional contracts, Caesar Uyesaka Stadium has still produced some head-turners in 2003.
Junior pitcher Matt Vasquez (3-4), who threw a complete game and five-hitter in a 7-1 victory on Friday, has been the object of major-league scouts’ desires for years. The right-hander was drafted out of Santa Barbara High in 2000 but elected to attend UCSB, where he was a Freshman All-American in 2001. Despite an up-and-down season this year, Vasquez is expected to be taken again in the high rounds of next month’s June amateur draft.
Another Gaucho that has piqued UCSB Head Coach Bob Brontsema’s interest this year is freshman Bill Rowe. The first baseman, who filled for injured senior Josh McCanne earlier in the year, has played himself into a vital role on the Gaucho bench. Rowe has started 24 of the Gauchos’ 46 games and is hitting .311with three home runs and 16 RBI.
“I think he has been a very pleasant surprise,” Brontsema said of Rowe. “We knew he was going to be a good player, but when he stepped in he showed a maturity beyond his years.”
Behind the plate, junior catcher Chad Ziemendorf has bared the brunt of a UCSB pitching staff that has recorded the third most walks and the smallest amount of strikeouts in the Big West. Ziemendorf has struggled offensively after a very hot start, but rediscovered his swing this weekend against Cal State Northridge. The catcher pounded out three home runs in as many games, including a seventh-inning, game-tying shot in Sunday’s 7-6 win.
“We’ve been lacking the big hits lately,” Brontsema said. “And [Ziemendorf] gave us those with his home runs; he gave us life again.”
Sophomore pitcher Eric Posthumus is also on the rebound. The right-hander was a 2002 Freshman All-American but struggled early in 2003 and was eventually lifted from the starting rotation. On Sunday, Posthumus (3-3) picked up the win against Northridge after pitching two-thirds of an inning and giving up one hit in relief.
Posthumus will get the chance to pick up another win today when he gets the starting nod against UCLA (22-26, 7-8 in the Pac-10).
“I’m just looking to go out there and throw strikes, keep the ball down, and give my team a chance to win the game,” Posthumus said.
The Gauchos (21-25, 4-11 in the Big West) will travel to Westwood for today’s 6 p.m. matchup, the second between the schools this year. The Gauchos defeated the Bruins 7-5 at home on Feb. 18.
UCLA is expected to send junior right-hander Chris Cordeiro to the hill. The 6’4,” 193-pounder is 0-2 with a 4.17 ERA in 17 appearances.