After winning 18-4 against their neighbors at Westmont, the Gaucho baseball team plays their first game of a seven-game road trip at San Jose State, where they will play a double header on Saturday and one more game on Sunday pending rain.
The 18 runs scored against Westmont were the most the Gauchos have scored at home since May 21, 2006 when the team won 20-5 against UC Davis.
“We know we’re not going to hit [like we did against Westmont] all the time, but as long as we keep pistol whipping the ball we should be fine,” starting pitcher Mario Hollands said.
Second in the starting rotation, Hollands will take the mound for the first time this season. He took a line drive to the groin on April 10 against UC Davis last season, after which his ERA jumped from 3.86 to 5.80 for the remainder of the year.
“I’m back to normal, I’m completely healthy,” Hollands said.
UCSB hasn’t won a series against the Spartans since 2005.
“They have solid pitching and timely hitting,” Hollands said. “[But] we all have confidence and we expect to win as many of the games as we can play this weekend.”
Junior Nick Loredo, a transfer from San Jose City College, is likely to make his first start as a Gaucho in Saturday’s second game. Junior Nick Capito, another transfer from Santa Ana College, is projected to start on Sunday. Capito posted a 2.70 ERA in 2009.
Gaucho Head Coach Bob Brontsema needs 10 more victories to pass Al Ferrer with the most recorded wins by a UCSB coach. The team also returns eight seniors, including shortstop Matt Valaika, who led the Gauchos with a .343 batting average and a .545 slugging percentage in 2009. Valaika was drafted by the Cincinnati Reds, where his older brother, a former Gaucho, plays on the team’s AAA squad in Louisville. However, he elected to stay at UCSB for his last year of eligibility.
Five seniors are in the starting lineup.
A preseason poll predicted the Gauchos to finish in sixth place in the Big West. Ranked #4 in the nation, Cal State Fullerton is expected to take the conference. UC Irvine, ranked eighth in the nation, is expected to take second. University of Texas at Austin is the nation’s preseason favorite.
UCSB will not play at home again until March 12, when they face off against Northern Illinois University. After the series against the Spartans, the Gauchos will play one game at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles and a three-game series at Stanford’s Klein Field at Sunken Diamond.