A long, difficult season may be nearing its end for the UCSB baseball team, but the squad still has some unfinished business to take care of in its final three-game home series of the year against UC Davis, slated to begin at 2 p.m. today at Caesar Uyesaka.
“We want to finish this thing with a bang more than anything,” senior center fielder Gunnar Terhune said. “We’re not looking to just win one. We’re looking to sweep.”
For many of the seniors and some of the younger guys on the team, this home series will be their last. Junior left-hander Mario Hollands, who redshirted in 2007, opted to stay in school for his fourth and last season after being drafted by the Minnesota Twins in the 24th round. After leading all Gaucho starters with a 3.86 ERA and 66 strikeouts in 84 innings pitched, the El Cerrito, Calif. native expects today’s start to be his last at Caesar Uyesaka.
“I’m planning on it being my last home game,” he said. “You don’t want to think about it ending. It’s been such a ride. I’ll always miss this place. Santa Barbara’s just hard to beat — it’ll always hold a place in my heart.”
At 7-11 in conference play, the Gauchos are tied with Long Beach State for fifth place in the Big West, while the Aggies’ 5-13 record against conference opponents puts them a game behind Cal State Northridge for last place in the conference. While UCSB will not be able to finish the season on top of the heap, the team still has seven games to play — including their final home game against Cal State Bakersfield on Tuesday — and could still finish above .500 and higher than its sixth-place preseason projection.
“[Davis doesn’t] have a lot of pitching, and they don’t have a great offense,” Terhune said. “It’s the perfect opportunity to take out some aggression.”
Hollands called Davis a “scrappy little team,” claiming that the Aggies have a lot of young talent.
“You can’t take anyone for granted,” Hollands said, pointing out last season’s series against Davis where they lost one game of the three-game series against them. “They could sneak up and get you.”
The Aggies took two out of three against Long Beach State in Davis on the weekend of April 9, and one game against seventh-place Cal Poly. In its last game, the team beat Santa Clara 11-6 on their home field.
However, Davis’ starting lineup lacks a true ace. No starter has an ERA better than 5.50. Still, the top of the team’s lineup has the potential to drive in some runs. Led by sophomore David Popkin’s .352 batting average in the lead-off spot, the top four guys have all batted over .300 this season.
For the Gauchos, Terhune leads the team with 13 stolen bases. In the third spot, junior Trevor Whyte has hit a team-leading .320 with 31 RBI.
Right-handed junior Jesse Meaux will start on Sunday for UCSB, while Saturday’s starter is to be determined. Meaux, another Gaucho who could be pitching his last game at Caesar
Uyesaka, has thrown a team-leading seven complete games this season, including a nine-inning gem against #27 UC Irvine last Sunday in which he allowed only one run. Meaux improved to 8-3 on the season with the victory.
Including Terhune, the Gauchos have three seniors in their batting lineup. Senior catcher Marty Mullins, who batted .294 and led the Gauchos with five home runs along with junior right-fielder Mark Haddow, will continue to sit out with an undisclosed injury.
“It would be nice to get some hits and a couple Gaucho wins at home,” Terhune said. “I’ve worked my [butt] off to be a Gaucho, you know, and it’s going to be nice to finish off the season [here] with a smile on our faces.”
Both tomorrow’s and Sunday’s games will start at 1 p.m.