Thursday, March 14, 2013

The real HarbourCats of Santa Barbara - Mar 14 edition

Mr. Utility, Robby Nesovic
When we last checked in with the Gauchos, they were stuck in neutral with a 4-4 record after getting pounded by the (then) 12th-ranked UCLA Bruins. UCSB then reeled off four straight wins against San Jose State and Saint Mary's College before being swept in a three-game series by the Texas Longhorns. Although they were humbled by the Longhorns, the Gauchos showed a good attitude on Tuesday night by bouncing back with a solid 7-2 win against the 17th-ranked Notre Dame Fighting Irish. UCSB's record now stands at 9-7 on the year.

Helping out in the Gaucho resurgence has been our own Robby Nesovic. Nesovic, who is a relief pitcher by trade, appears to have taken over the full-time duties as the team's designated hitter. Although starting pitcher Greg Mahle began the season in that role, Mahle hasn't started a game at DH since his "o-fer" on March 1st that dropped his average to .152. Meanwhile, Nesovic has gone on a tear with five hits and seven RBI in the last three games -- he now leads the team with an impressive .421 batting average. Nesovic has walked more often than he has struck out and that great strike-zone judgement has propelled him to a nifty .500 on-base percentage, good for second best on the Gauchos squad.

Nesovic also made his third relief appearance of the season on Tuesday night against Notre Dame, giving up two earned runs in 1 1/3 innings of relief of Mahle. Nesovic's ERA for the year stands at 7.36, but he has plenty of time to turn things around on the hill.

Check out Notre Dame's exceptional retro uniforms!
Connor Baits has made two relief appearances since our last UCSB update. He pitched a scoreless inning against the Saint Mary's College Gaels on March 4th, and then he got roughed up by the Texas Longhorns on Sunday in an appearance that lasted 2 2/3 innings. Baits gave up four hits, including a three-run homer to the second Longhorns hitter that he faced. The round-tripper was the second long ball given up by Baits this season, and his ERA now sits at 6.14.

The other two HarbourCats freshmen on the UCSB roster, Dillon Tate and Art Vidrio, are still waiting for their first opportunity to show what they can do on the hill. Coach Checketts obviously isn't averse to using young guns on the mound -- 7 of the 11 pitchers used so far are freshmen. Since two of those freshmen sport ERA's of 8.64 and 15.43, perhaps it's time to see what guys like Tate and Vidrio can do. The next action for the Gauchos comes on Friday when they start a three-game series against the visiting Sacramento State Hornets.

  • Justin Burba of the Oklahoma Sooners got the first hit of his college career on Wednesday night and it was a big one. Burba, who had only four previous at-bats this season, pinch hit in the bottom of the seventh inning with the Sooners trailing New Mexico State by a run. He smacked a double down the left field line on an 0-2 pitch and scored the tying run later in the inning (you can see his double on SoonerSports TV -- just advance to the 1:54:40 mark). The Sooners went on to win the game in the bottom of the ninth.
  • Burba's teammate (on both the Sooners and the HarbourCats) Anthony Hermelyn has cooled off of late. He's 0-for-3 in his last three games and is now hitting .225 with 8 RBI in his 40 at-bats this season.

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