With just six scheduled games remaining, the Gauchos are beginning to look back at a season of opportunities missed.
UCSB has lost 15 of its last 24 games, beginning with a three-game stretch at Oregon State against the Beavers.
“We were doing really well earlier in the season,” senior southpaw Sean Thompson said. “I think our season turned around on our Spring Break trip to Oregon State. If we had won that last Sunday game [against OSU] I think it would have been a different story this year.”
Over the last three years, UCSB’s spring breaks have seemed to dictate the path of the remaining season.
In 2001, Santa Barbara won seven of eight at the University of Hawaii Tournament in Honolulu, Hawaii. The Gauchos went on to post the best winning percentage (.702) in school history.
At the same time last year, Gauchos (21-26, 4-11 in the Big West) lost five of six games at the Johnny Quick Classic in Fresno, before fading to an unimpressive 22-33 season mark.
While the Gauchos did not enter a tournament this year, they still left the state and lost two of three.
“It happens almost every year for the Gauchos,” Thompson explained. “We go away on Spring Break, and if we play poorly we come back and don’t play well for the rest of the season. If you play well on Spring Break, it usually ends up the other way around.”
Just two weeks after returning from Oregon, UCSB faced three top-25 teams for three weekends in a row. Riverside, Cal State Fullerton and Long Beach State whipped the Gauchos for a total of eight losses in nine games. When UCSB finally got back on its feet, it was too late.
UCSB is currently grounded in the Big West cellar, tied with the University of Pacific (25-23, 4-11).
However, that could change this weekend as the Tigers roll into town for a three-game series against the Gauchos at Caesar Uyesaka Stadium. The battle for eighth place begins at 2 p.m. today as UCSB junior right-hander Matt Vasquez (3-4) takes the hill against Pacific.
Vasquez will look to improve on his 5.24 ERA. Last week he put a dent in that number, with an impressive five-hit complete game victory over Northridge.
Junior Chad Ziemendorf is also looking for a stellar week to carry over into the series against the Tigers. The right-handed hitting catcher has slugged four home runs in his last four games and has driven in nine RBI in the same span.
Ziemendorf attributed his recent surge to baseball conversations with his father.
“I’m constantly in contact with my dad, and him and I are always trying to play with [my swing],” he said. “Something finally just clicked in my mind; hitting is just a bizarre thing.”
On Saturday, freshman right-hander Michael Martin will start against UOP and on Sunday Thompson will get the call.
The weekend games begin at 1 p.m.