After sweeping Pacific over the weekend, the UCSB baseball team will look to extend its winning streak to four games today when it plays host to crosstown rival Westmont (5-31).
The Gauchos (15-18 overall, 4-2 in the Big West) defeated the Warriors 11-2 in the teams’ first meeting on February 20. Senior first baseman Robbie Blauer led the offensive attack in that game with three hits, two runs and three RBI, while six pitchers combined to hold Westmont to only four hits. The Gauchos are 3-0 in their current seven-game homestand, and 11-9 overall this season at Caesar Uyesaka Stadium.
“It’s always good to play at home and we’re playing our park pretty well,” Head Coach Bob Brontsema said. “We’re playing good defense and it’s nice to play at home with all the family and friends here.”
Blauer leads a Gaucho lineup that scored 27 runs in three games over the weekend. In addition to leading the Gauchos in most hitting categories, the senior’s batting average of .395 is good for second in the Big West. After hitting home runs in four straight games, senior right fielder Mario Lewis now leads the team with five homers, to go along with a .271 average and 22 RBI. Following a strong weekend, junior center fielder Chris Fox is hitting .315 with 23 runs scored, two home runs and a team-leading 11 stolen bases.
“We’re putting together better at bats and we have better discipline at the plate right now,” Brontsema said. “We’re doing a good job with our approach overall and that’s resulting in some more runs.”
The pitching staff has also performed well recently, specifically the bullpen, which did an outstanding job of closing out wins on Saturday and Sunday. Senior closer Justin Segal has lowered his ERA to 3.86, complementing his six saves on the season. Segal now has 13 career saves, three short of the school record.
“He’s been close to automatic for us, he’s money in the bank right now,” Brontsema said. “He’s our go-to guy.”
Senior right-hander Brian Tracy (1-2, 4.76) is slated to make his sixth start of the year in today’s game. In his last start, he allowed 14 runners to reach base with six earned runs in five innings of work. Despite the fact that the Gauchos have won four out of their last five, and moved into a tie for second place in the conference, Brontsema does not believe that the team has reached its potential yet.
“We could easily be [5-1 in the Big West] right now if we were playing our best baseball,” Brontsema said. “We’ve battled back to get in some games, so if there’s a corner to be turned, I hope it’s turned really soon.”
Today’s first pitch is schedule for 2 p.m. at Caesar Uyesaka Stadium.