With the end of the season in sight, the Gaucho baseball team faces their highest ranked opponent of the season —  #11 UCLA — tonight at Jackie Robinson Stadium in Westwood at 6.

The Bruins have fared well against their Big West conference opponents, going 9-3 after splitting games with UC Irvine and losing to Long Beach State and #12 Cal State Fullerton. They beat the Gauchos 7-1 on March 23 when they were ranked third in the country. UCLA is 37-11 overall and 13-8 in the Pac-10.

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Meanwhile, the Gauchos, who have struggled with injuries in a season that was once brimming with potential, have lost eight of their last 10 on the way to a 21-25 overall record. Their 7-11 Big West record puts them in a tie for fifth- place in the conference with Long Beach State, who took two out of three against the Gauchos at the Dirtbag’s Blair Field.

While the Gauchos have not quite been able to string all the pieces together this year, members of UCSB’s squad have shown flashes of brilliance. Right-handed junior Jesse Meaux pitched a complete game against #27 UC Irvine on Sunday, allowing only one run and walking two in the Gauchos’ 2-1 win. Left-handed junior Mario Hollands has established himself as a consistent Friday starter, leading all starters with a 3.86 ERA, 66 strikeouts and 84 innings pitched. The starting lineup has thrown a collective seven complete games so far, with Hollands and Meaux contributing five.

On offense, junior first baseman Trevor Whyte leads all starters with a .319 batting average and a .440 slugging percentage. Since May 9, junior designated hitter Derek Eligio has had multi-hit games, batting .417 in 17 at bats.

[media-credit id=20037 align=”alignright” width=”250″][/media-credit]However, the Gauchos have consistently struggled in game two of their three-game series. Excluding a four-game series sweep against Northern Illinois at the beginning of the season, UCSB is 2-9 in Saturday matchups, suggesting that the Gauchos are still looking for a consistent third starter. Although the team has lost as many as five games in a row, they have never been swept in a three-game series this season.

Junior left-handed pitcher Nick Capito (4-5, 6.58 ERA)will start for the Gauchos on Tuesday against UCLA right-hander Garret Claypool. The senior is 7-2 with a 2.11 ERA.
UCSB will continue Big West play at UCSB’s Caesar Uyesaka on Friday at 2 p.m. against UC Davis. The Aggies are ranked last in the conference with a 5-13 record.