Ahhh… the home opener. Nothing feels so pure; nothing feels so right. Even Enya can’t capture the feeling. The UCSB baseball team hosts San Jose State for a three-game homestand this weekend at Caesar Uyesaka. Game one is today at 2 p.m.
This afternoon, faces old and new will take to Caesar Uyesaka Stadium for the first time in 2004 with something at stake, and Santa Barbara baseball fans will get their first glimpse of a team that has every reason to be optimistic.
“Your adrenaline is up, and the fans are looking at you for the first time,” third baseman Nate Sutton said. “And you’ve got a little bit of an advantage since you’ve been playing on the field all the time.”
A sign that this year’s team could be great was evidenced by Tuesday’s eighth-inning comeback from five down at Northridge. Down 6-1, UCSB erased the deficit with exquisite plate patience compounded by timely hitting, including two clutch bases-loaded singles by senior catcher Taylor Vogt and senior designated hitter Greg Powers.
“The big difference between last year’s team and this year’s team is we didn’t panic in that situation,” Sutton said.
This weekend, San Jose State brings its 1-2-1 record into Santa Barbara and will face the same rotation that went 2-1 last weekend at San Diego State.
Today, sophomore pitcher Steve Morlock (1-0) will toe the rubber, followed by senior James Dayley (0-1) on Saturday, and sophomore Michael Martin (1-0) will close out the series Sunday. Morlock, Dayley and Martin combined to toss 13 innings last weekend, a tad lower than Head Coach Bob Brontsema would like. Thanks to stellar relief pitching from a bullpen that posted a 1.38 ERA in 13 innings, short outings from the starters won’t be that hard to swallow this weekend.
San Jose State comes off its first win of the season, an 11-7 victory over University of San Francisco.
“They’ve got pretty stingy defense and really good hitting,” Sutton said. “It’ll come down to whoever makes the least amount of mistakes and execution.”
Today, the Gauchos will face third-team preseason All-American Matt Durkin. Durkin allowed seven hits and six runs – all of which were earned – three walks and four strikeouts over the course of 5 1/3 innings in his first appearance a week ago against Cal Poly in a tie due to darkness.