Finally, baseball season is here and the Gauchos will begin theirs by traveling to state-of-the-art Tony Gwynn Stadium to face the unranked San Diego State Aztecs this weekend. The first of the three UCSB-SDSU clashes begins tonight at at 6, followed by 1 p.m. games on both Saturday and Sunday. This also marks the second consecutive time the two teams have met to open Santa Barbara’s season.

UCSB will move sophomore pitcher Steve Morlock from the end of the game to the beginning, giving the former closer the Opening Day start. Junior transfer pitcher Nate Holguin pitched well enough in the fall to earn the Saturday start, and senior hurler James Dayley is penciled in to start the third contest.

“We’re looking forward to playing to see where we are,” Gaucho Head Coach Bob Brontsema said. “We’re tired of playing ourselves.”

Santa Barbara and San Diego have something in common waiting for each other in the late innings, with each featuring a highly touted transfer closer. UCSB will close up shop with senior pitcher Aaron Jones, while the Aztecs counter with senior transfer Ryan Schroyer, a pickup from Arizona State. Schroyer has compiled two saves and a victory in SDSU’s first eight games, and has been called on to pitch before the ninth inning twice already this season.

“San Diego State has some great professional bodies on their team, a lot of pro prospect-type guys,” Brontsema said. “They’ve got eight games under their belts, too, so you’d think they have all the kinks worked out by now.”

The Aztecs (4-4) hit .343 as a team against Sacramento State last weekend despite dropping the series, winning only one of three games. Freshman catcher Brock Ungricht is leading the charge on offense, hitting a sizzling .448 with a seven-game hitting streak to open his college career. Senior pitcher Scott Shoemaker (1-0, 4.91 ERA) will make his third start with San Diego State tonight after eight with Big West rival Long Beach State, followed by junior southpaw Daryl Harang (0-1, 1.23 ERA) on Saturday and senior righty Chris Hartshorn (2-0, team-high 12 strikeouts) on Sunday.

All three games will air on KCSB-FM 91.9, with Saturday’s contest tape-delayed to 7 p.m.