After a high-scoring road trip in which it saw three closely contested games, the UCSB baseball team returns home for a midweek matchup against #13 Pepperdine.
The Gauchos (4-7 overall) dropped their first two games in the Lamar Classic over the weekend, before finally ending a four-game losing streak on Sunday in dramatic fashion. Senior first baseman Robbie Blauer extended his hitting streak to 12 games with a game-winning home run in the 11th inning, and the team’s leading hitter will look to keep the streak going this afternoon against the Waves.
“He has a great approach at the plate and he’s getting good pitches to hit,” Head Coach Bob Brontsema said. “We have been counting on him because he has a good approach and he’s a good hitter so [the hitting streak] is not a big surprise to us.
Overall, Blauer is hitting .435 with a team-leading 20 hits, seven runs and 11 RBI. Blauer’s blast against Kansas State was his first of the year, making him the seventh Gaucho to go deep so far this season. Senior catcher Matt Anderson and junior outfielder Mike Zuanich have been assigned the role of protecting Blauer in the lineup, and so far both have succeeded. Anderson is hitting .375 with a team-leading slugging percentage of .667 and Zuanich is batting .316.
The problem for the Gauchos lately has been inconsistent pitching; the staff ERA has swelled in recent weeks. UCSB had a 2.78 ERA after the season’s first six games, but that number jumped to 4.37 after a rough weekend in Texas. Perhaps the most surprising numbers have come from senior closer Justin Segal, who was expected to provide a dominant force at the end of the bullpen. Segal has struggled in six appearances this season, however, giving up six runs in only eight and two-thirds innings pitched.
After three tough matchups over the weekend, the road does not get any easier for the Gauchos as Pepperdine (13-4) comes into town having won six out of seven games. Five different Waves are hitting over .350, paced by sophomore infielder Chase d’Arnaud’s .406 average. While Pepperdine’s hitters are battting .327 this season, the team’s success is largely the result of an outstanding pitching staff. Opposing hitters are hitting only .225 against the Waves this year, and the team comes into today’s game with a staff ERA of 2.39.
“We expect Pepperdine to be very good and I know their numbers are good, but you still play against the game instead of the opponent,” Brontsema said. “If we play our game, we should be good.”
Today’s first pitch between UCSB and Pepperdine will be at 2 p.m. at Caesar Uyesaka Stadium.