After sweeping Marist College over the weekend to open the season, the UCSB baseball team heads south to face UCLA for one game at Jackie Robinson Stadium tonight at 6 p.m. The Bruins (2-1 overall), who came into the season ranked number one in the nation, fell to Oklahoma in a surprising extra-inning loss on Saturday before bouncing back against Cal State Northridge on Tuesday.
Santa Barbara (3-0) has senior right-hander Michael Martin penciled in to start the Wednesday evening game, while UCLA will counter with freshman lefty Rob Rasmussen, who is making his collegiate debut. Despite pitching out of the bullpen against Marist, Martin, who has missed the past two seasons due to injury, appears ready to make his first start in over two years.
“When you start a game, it’s your game and you’ve got to take ownership,” Martin said.
In his one inning of work against the Red Foxes, Martin did not have his best outing, allowing a run on two hits, including a hit batsman on a curveball — a third pitch that he seldom attempts. Martin remains confident in his two-pitch combination and is ready to bounce back against a dangerous Bruin offense.
“We’re going to use my two-seam fastball as much as possible and use the change-up as my out pitch,” Martin said. “As a pitcher you’ve got to go out and use your strengths and not worry about who’s in the batter’s box.”
After the use of sophomore right-hander Mike Ford, freshman left-hander Mario Hollands and senior left-hander Chuck Huggins in the weekend series against Marist, Martin was the clear choice of the Gaucho coaching staff to face a very formidable Pac-10 opponent.
“We really see Michael as a fourth starter,” Pitching Coach Tom Myers said. “He’s only pitched an inning so far and should be well rested for Wednesday’s game.”
The Gaucho offense, which exploded to score a combined 30 runs in three games over the weekend, should face a tougher test in Rasmussen, who went 38-2 in his high school career, with a miniscule 1.04 earned run average. The undersized southpaw was also drafted in the 27th round of the 2007 Major League Baseball Draft by the Los Angeles Dodgers. Despite Rasmussen’s impressive résumé, UCSB’s hitters remain optimistic that their offense will continue to deliver and are ready to show that their performance against the Red Foxes was no fluke.
“I’m really excited about this weekend that we just had and our results,” junior right fielder Brian Gump said. “I’m looking for our guys to carry that over into tomorrow’s game.”