Gaucho baseball schedule not light on heavy hitters

The UCSB baseball team released its 2010 schedule on Thursday, featuring 28 home games, 12 opponents who finished last season at .500 or better and nine games against teams that made the 2009 NCAA Regionals. The schedule pits UCSB against teams that had a combined .532 winning percentage last season. Four of UCSB’s opponents won at least 40 games last year while six others won at least 30 games.

Highlighting those that will be visiting Caesar Uyesaka Stadium this upcoming season will be UCLA, USC, Cal State Fullerton, Pepperdine, UC Riverside, Northern Illinois, New Mexico State, San Francisco and Loyola Marymount. The Gauchos open their season on Tuesday, Feb. 23 vs. Westmont.

UCSB also will play road games at Stanford – a 2008 College World Series participant – USC, UC Irvine, Cal Poly, Long Beach State, San Jose State, Pepperdine and Loyola Marymount.

“We’re looking forward to a challenging non-conference schedule to prepare us for the always-difficult Big West Conference season,” UCSB head coach Bob Brontsema said.

The Gauchos, 29-23 a season ago, return two players from their school-record nine players that were drafted in June. Left-handed pitcher Mario Hollands and infielder Matt Valaika, both chosen in the Major League Baseball amateur draft, will return and are expected to lead the Gauchos this year. Joining them will be All-American pitcher Mike Ford, all-conference honoree catcher Marty Mullins, senior Gunnar Terhune and top newcomers left-hander Kevin Gelinas and right-hander Nick Loredo.

The Big West Conference, which was recently ranked as the sixth-best in the nation, according to RPI ratings and is also a league that had two nationally-ranked teams in the NCAA postseason and has featured at least one team in the College World Series in eight of the past 11 seasons. UCSB led the conference with nine players drafted by Major League Baseball teams this past June, including the conference’s top player selected, Joe Gardner (third round, Cleveland Indians).

UCSB baseball has announced a strategic plan with the Santa Barbara Foresters to upgrade Caesar Uyesaka Stadium and the Gauchos will hold an exclusive dinner on Thursday, Feb. 5 featuring keynote speaker and legendary Dodgers manager Tommy Lasorda. For more information, or to be a part of the engagement, please visit