Only two days after playing a grueling weekend series that was capped off with an 11th-inning marathon loss last Sunday, the UC Santa Barbara baseball team will have a great opportunity to bounce back against Westmont today at Caesar Uyesaka Stadium.
Though the crosstown rival Warriors (8-26 overall, 4-24 in the Golden State Athletic Conference) currently sit at the bottom of the GSAC standings, managing only one win in their past 13 games, the Gauchos (23-11, 5-1 Big West) are approaching this mid-week game with as much significance as any other Big West contest. Dropping two out of three to Davis on the way to their first series loss in the conference should give UCSB even more incentive to play its best tomorrow.
“If we are still hanging our heads going into the Westmont game, they are going to hand it to us,” Head Coach Bob Brontsema said. “We have to focus on doing things right and playing against the game, not against the opponent.”
Taking the hill for UCSB will be senior right-hander Michael Martin (3-1, 4.24 E.R.A), a pitcher who has already faced the Westmont lineup in a Gaucho victory earlier this season. In two innings of work, Martin breezed through the Warrior offense, striking out three without allowing a hit.
Despite pitching over two innings in Sunday’s game in relief of senior left-hander Chuck Huggins, Martin maintains he is more than ready to handle tomorrow’s starting assignment.
“I see those weekend relief appearances as a bullpen [session] for me with a little more intensity,” Martin said. “My arm’s feeling great for where we are in the season, and I’m definitely going in with the mindset of getting the W.”
With sophomore middle infielder Matt Valaika and junior outfielder John DeAlba on the shelf with serious injuries, the Santa Barbara lineup will continue to feature several of its reserves with a combination of sophomore Gunnar Terhune and junior Steve Cook at second base, and freshman Mark Haddow in right field. Thus far, the Gaucho reserves have filled admirably and will need to continue to produce if UCSB wants to uphold their position in the Big West among the division leaders in hits, runs and stolen bases.
“With only three players on the bench, we don’t really have anyone that can be considered a reserve,” Brontsema said. “Not having some of our regular guys limits your moves and changes how you organize the lineup, but we should be fine if our guys filling in play the way they’ve been playing.”
Today’s game is scheduled for a 2 p.m. start and should serve as a nice tune-up before UCSB welcomes Pac-10 power USC on Friday to begin a three-game series.