After taking down a crucial conference series on that road at UC Davis, the UC Santa Barbara baseball team (19-10) heads home today to take on the Cal State Bakersfield Roadrunners (8-23) in game two of the squads’ four-game series that has been spread out through the season as mid-week matchups.

Winners of five of their last seven games, the Gauchos should be able to give Bakersfield plenty of competition, and should have plenty of confidence after bashing the Roadrunners 10-0 in their first meeting of the season. The home team maintains a focused approach however in what looks to be David versus Goliath bout on paper.

“Cal State Bakersfield might not have the best reputation because it’s their first season in D1 [Division I], but we are going to take them just as seriously as any Big West team,” senior shortstop Shane Carlson said.

Sophomore left-handed pitcher Mario Hollands did not overlook the Roadrunners when he made his start against them back in February, tossing eight shutout innings with six strikeouts to record his first win of the year.

Santa Barbara would love to see similar results from senior right-hander Zach Samuels (2-1, 4.50 ERA, 2 saves), who is slated to take the hill tomorrow in only the second start of his career. Samuels has been one of the Gauchos’ most reliable arms out of the bullpen this year, averaging over a strikeout an inning while providing a secondary closing option behind junior reliever David Meals.

“[Samuels] has done extending relieving in the past, so he’s ready to give us a few solid innings which is just what we need,” Carlson said.

If all goes well, Head Coach Bob Brontsema will likely have Samuels split up the game with other typical mid-week relievers such as sophomore right-handers Jesse Meaux (2-0, 6.23 ERA) and Greg Davis (1-0, 1.42 ERA), so the Santa Barbara bullpen can preserve their arm strength for the upcoming weekend series against San Jose State.

Opposing Samuels will be the Roadrunners’ junior starter Mickey Jannis, who has yet to record a win this season with an 0-6 record to go with an inflated 6.00 ERA. A powerful Gaucho offense that averages over seven runs a game while ranking second in the Big West in slugging percentage should do well against the struggling Jannis, but are not looking to take anything for granted.

“His numbers aren’t too good, but any given day a player can have the game of his life. That being said, we expect to pound him pretty good,” senior centerfielder Brian Gump said.

In light of Tax Day, the Athletics Department is holding Dollar Day at the Diamond, where tickets are only $1 for community members. As always, admission to Caesar Uyesaka Stadium is free for all students with a UCSB ID. First pitch is slated for 2 p.m.