Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Gaucho Marks - March 18th edition

Andrew Calica smacks a walk off single in 2-1 win over Pepperdine
It has been an eventful couple of weeks for UC Santa Barbara outfielder Andrew Calica. Starting with an exhibition game against Waseda University (Japan), Calica was put in as a pinch runner in the ninth inning and eventually scored the winning run, on a walk off RBI single by teammate Tyler Kuresa. And it went uphill from there.

Over the next eight games, Calica was an impressive 11 for 29 (.379) at the dish, hitting safely in all but one of those games and in that one, he ended up collecting three walks. In a dramatic 2-1 win over Pepperdine where he was rewarded by moving up to number two in the order, this future 'Cat smashed a two-out, bases-loaded walk off single to break the 1-1 tie and secure the win.

But wait, there's more! The heroics continued a few games later against the Shockers (best nickname in college athletics!) when Calica led off the ninth with a single up the middle and eventually scored the wining run again in another Gaucho walk off victory. Rumour had it that he almost didn't make it up to bat as he got his cape caught in the phone booth on the way to the plate.

As well as upping his on-base percentage to .515 and maintaining a perfect fielding record, Calica sits at number three on the team with a lofty .389 batting average. In the past few games, he seems to have settled in at number five in the order after starting deep and jumping up to number two for the game against Pepperdine. So it seems the spotlight has not negatively affected this freshman lad as he sees the first sustained action of his collegiate career. It's nice to know that this sure-handed fielder will be patrolling the cool night air at the RAP in just a couple of months.

As for team accomplishments, after the Waseda win, the Gauchos swept two from ranked opponent Mississippi State, then split with Arizona, beat Pepperdine and took two of three from Wichita State. Interestingly enough (to me anyway), two of those teams are #1 seeds in the upcoming NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament that starts on Thursday - Wichita State is #1 in the Midwest and Arizona is #1 in the West.

Thanks to this nice little run, UCSB has jumped into the number 19 spot in the Baseball America college rankings, up from number 23 last week. And as you can see, Mr. Calica has been a top contributor and looks to continue his impressive run as the Gauchos now play eight games in ten days, starting this Friday.

  • Gabe Clark cooled off a bit last week, going one for twelve over three games and settling his average down to a terrestrial .356. He has been bumped down to number six in the order (from cleanup) but his Oregon State Beavers didn't miss a beat and are currently riding a ten game winning streak.
  • These ten games included a three game sweep of the Utah squad, home of another future 'Cat teammate, pitcher Bret Helton. Clark did not face Helton in the one game that he pitched. Helton collected his first loss against the Beavers, going four innings and giving up all five runs (four earned) while striking out four of the 19 batters he faced, and walking three. Helton also DH'ed in a couple of games over this stretch but didn't have much luck, going hitless in ten at bats while batting cleanup.

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