Location. Location. Location.

As students here in sun-soaked Santa Barbara, we swear by this axiom. As the newly crowned go-to guy in the UCSB bullpen, so does Gaucho relief pitcher Loren Fraser. This past week, the right-handed junior was named the Big West’s Pitcher of the Week, and surprisingly, the six-and-a-half-foot tower’s secret has not been his power.

“I’ve just been trying to be accurate, hit my spots and get ahead in counts,” Fraser said. “If I can get up in the count I’m a lot more productive.”

For Fraser, a walk-on transfer from Santa Barbara City College, his recent success, accompanied by the Gauchos sweep of #4 Long Beach State, has made for quite a surreal week. Fraser earned his first two saves of the season against the Dirtbags over the weekend, working 3.1 scoreless innings against a team with Omaha-or-bust written all over them.

“On Monday when I found out, it was really the last thing I expected. I was still trying to take in what happened over the weekend,” Fraser said. “Where I’m at right now is really the last place I thought I’d be.”


“Coming in as a redshirt from a city college, it’s really hard to get recognition,” Fraser said. “It’s really been an uphill battle.”

As any Gaucho in uniform will confirm, Fraser’s success is merely a product of his nature.

“Loren’s one of the hardest workers I’ve come across,” second baseman Chris Malec said. “He’s been amazing for us. When you’re in the field, you love to play for a guy like Loren who you know is going to get outs, works fast and hits his spots.”

Fraser has put himself in a position not only to be the guy that Head Coach Bob Brontesema will look to out of the bullpen down the stretch, but also to get his name called on draft day. A few teams have talked with the once-raw, now-polished hurler who has posted a miniscule 0.79 ERA in 11.1 conference innings, and a 2.03 ERA overall.

“Loren is just a great story, going from almost not making the team to where he is now,” Brontsema said. “Our bullpen has just been great for us.”

While Santa Barbara’s starting pitching has endured its fair share of ups and downs, the trio of Fraser, junior Alex McRobbie and senior Ivan Ramirez is keeping UCSB in ball games, as well as a pennant race. Thanks to their current four-game win streak, and a favorable schedule down the stretch, the Gauchos have not given up hope of a post-season appearance just yet.

“Right now first place seems unlikely, but we think a third-place finish in conference should get us a bid,” Brontsema said. “We’ll have to get some help from Riverside though.”

Right now, Santa Barbara is tied for fourth place with UC Irvine and Cal Poly, all of whom sport a 5-7 Big West record. Riverside, at 8-4, is the game all three teams will shoot for, and with a cushion of just three games, the Highlanders could finish sixth just as easily as third.

This weekend UCSB will host Northridge, winners of two of three over #14 Irvine last weekend, but nonetheless in the Big West’s cellar. The Gauchos already have two wins over the Matadors and simply need three more to stay afloat in a tight race for the postseason. First pitch Friday will be at 2 p.m. at Caesar Uyesaka Stadium, while start times Saturday and Sunday are 1 p.m.