With wet weather in the forecast at Fresno, the UCSB baseball team may be better off packing galoshes, ponchos and umbrellas than bats, gloves and cleats for this weekend’s road trip.
“We’ve played the past few weekends in cold and wet weather, so that has us prepared,” senior right fielder Matt Wilkerson said. “We’ve got a lot of veteran guys out there, so no one will be rattled.”
The Gauchos (5-2) are coming off of a blowout win over Westmont on Tuesday, and have won five of their last six. With two series wins under its belt, UCSB will look to continue its early season success against the Bulldogs (1-7).
Despite its record, Fresno cannot be underestimated. The Bulldogs have played their first three series against quality teams Stanford, UCLA and defending national champions #3 Fullerton. Last weekend, in two games against the Titans, Fresno mustered just one run on three hits.
“[Fresno] has played Stanford, Fullerton and UCLA, and those staffs have great arms. So, them being 1-7 isn’t indicative of what kind of team they are,” Head Coach Bob Brontsema said. “There are a lot of schools in the country that would be 1-7 playing a schedule like that.”
On the mound for UCSB will be regular weekend starters, juniors Steve Morlock and Michael Martin, on Friday and Saturday, and sophomore Andy Graham on Sunday. Last weekend, the Gaucho hurlers gave up just six runs at San Jose. Graham leads the starters, getting two wins in two starts and giving up just two runs in 12 innings.
“[The pitchers] set the tone. They keep us in the ball game,” senior second baseman Chris Malec said. “As long as they’re keeping us in the game, we’re confident behind them.”
At the plate, UCSB has gotten production from every position, scoring 54 runs in the first seven games. Leadoff hitter and center fielder junior Matt Emerick leads starters with a .387 batting average, while sophomore shortstop Chris Valaika is tops with eight runs scored. Wilkerson has driven in a team-leading 10 runs.
First pitch is scheduled for 6:35 p.m. tonight and for 1:05 p.m. Saturday and Sunday at Beiden Field in Fresno.