With hitting streaks and school records on the line, the UCSB baseball team will begin the final week of the season today when USC pays a visit to Santa Barbara.
The Gauchos (23-27 overall, 9-9 in the Big West) will get a chance to avenge last week’s 7-5 road loss to the Trojans (26-26, 8-11 in the Pac-10) in what will be the final non-conference game for the team’s seniors. Should the Gauchos fall to the Trojans, they will be assured of a losing season for the third consecutive year.
“It’s a game that we’d like to win because we would like to get to the .500 mark, so we need to win these next four games,” Head Coach Bob Brontsema said. “We’re going to go out and try to play our best and hopefully get rewarded. We haven’t been rewarded too often this year, and we’ve had a lot of tough breaks and a lot of tough games. It’d be nice for this group to go out on a high note.”
One player who is most definitely going out on a high note is senior first baseman Robbie Blauer, who carries an 18-game hitting streak into today’s game. Blauer is hitting .398 on the season, good for second best in the Big West, but the current streak isn’t even his longest of the season. The Huntington Beach native opened the year with hits in 23 straight games, which extended his streak to a career-high 24 games over two seasons. Blauer’s current run isn’t even tops on his own team, as junior centerfielder Chris Fox is riding a 22-game streak.
“The top of our lineup has been just outstanding the last month and a half,” Brontsema said. “I think we’ve done some really good things offensively, which has helped because we’ve needed to score some runs.”
Senior right-hander Justin Aspegren (1-0, 7.13) is expected to take the mound today in what will be the first start of his Gaucho career. Aspegren has pitched 16 times out of the bullpen this season, striking out a batter per inning. While he has kept opposing hitters to a .210 batting average, Aspegren has been undone by 18 walks in 17.2 innings of work.
“He’s a senior and he’s pitched well recently, so we wanted to reward him for that,” Brontsema said.
Today’s first pitch will be at 2 p.m. at Caesar Uyesaka Stadium.