After losing its last three games, the Gaucho baseball team looks to return to form against Big West opponent Cal State Northridge in a three-game series that begins today at 2 p.m. at UCSB’s Caesar Uyesaka Stadium.
The sixth-place Gauchos are 19-20 overall and 5-7 in the Big West. While CSUN is 22-19 overall, its 4-8 conference record puts them in a tie for last place with UC Davis. Last season, the Matadors won the season series against the Gauchos 2-1 at Northridge.
“I think they’re a better team than they were last year,” Head Coach Bob Brontsema said. “We’ve got our work cut out for us.”
The Gauchos have been saddled with injuries this season. Most recently, senior catcher Marty Mullins and senior left-fielder Ryan Tregoning sustained injuries that will keep them out of the starting lineup this weekend. Tregoning batted .308 in 28 games this season. Mullins batted .294 in 33 games and led the Gauchos with a .984 fielding percentage.
“It’s been a lot to overcome, quite frankly,” Brontsema continued. “Marty is a guy that can really execute and do some things, and Tregoning has been one of our most consistent hitters.”
UCSB has only produced five runs in its past three games. The team was shut out 4-0 in its most recent loss to Cal State Bakersfield on Tuesday. Although the offense has struggled as of late with its health, the team’s bullpen has performed much better than the Gauchos’ record suggests, allowing only four runs over the past 26.1 innings. The Gauchos are 16-5 when they lead after six, 18-2 when leading after seven and 19-1 when leading after eight. If each member of the Gaucho starting pitching rotation manages to last more than six innings, chances are still good the Gauchos can take the series.
Left-handed junior Mario Hollands returns to the mound today for the Gauchos, leading all starters with a 3.99 ERA. After his start against Long Beach two weekends ago in which he allowed 10 runs in 3.1 innings, Hollands returned against Riverside to pitch his third complete game of the season, allowing only one run and no walks on his way to improving to 4-3. The El Cerrito, Calif. native is third in the Big West with 61 strikeouts.
Junior left-hander Nick Capito, who experienced a scare two weeks ago when a line drive struck the bill of his baseball cap and bent it in half, will start again on Saturday. Capito was pitching well against Long Beach before the incident, but he struggled against Riverside last weekend, allowing only five runs in 1.2 innings. On Sunday, right-handed junior Jesse Meaux will take the hill with a staff-high six wins under his belt.
Games two and three of the series against CSUN will begin at 1 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. After playing the Matadors, the Gauchos will have only two conference series left on schedule.