With their chances of winning the conference all but over both the Matadors (22-19, 4-8) and the UC Santa Barbara Gauchos (19-20, 5-7) will be playing mostly for pride as the teams will play a three game series this weekend in Santa Barbara.
The Matadors will be looking to get back on track after losing two of three games to UC Davis, including a 16-0 loss at home last Sunday.
The Gauchos head into the series with the Matadors on a three-game losing streak. The Gauchos are coming off a 4-0 loss at Cal State Bakersfield.
Last season, the Matadors took two out of three games from the Gauchos at Matador Field when the Gauchos were ranked No. 19 in the country. In one of those games, a 9-4 Matador victory, pitcher Ryan Juarez had a strong performance. Juarez pitched eight innings, and struck out four batters in picking up the win.
The Gauchos 21-12 victory over the Matadors last season was a wild back and forth game until the seventh inning. With the scored tied 8-8 in the seventh, the Gauchos scored 11 runs in the inning. The inning included a homerun and four doubles for the Gauchos.
The rubber match of the series featured a walk off 3-2 victory for the Matadors that was aided by a throwing error by the Gauchos.
Despite losing three of their last four games, head coach Steve Rousey expects the Matadors to stay on course this season. “I expect us to compete,” said Rousey. “The competitive attitude of the guys, I expect that to remain the same.”
“Basically we need to maintain that competitive mindset and work to improve everyday, “said Rousey. “I expect improvement; there are things to work on.”
“I don’t think we need to redeem ourselves,” said pitcher Bill Ott. “We just need to stay on our game.”
The way the Matadors are approaching their series against the Gauchos has not changed. There is only one aspect that changes how the Matadors prepare for opponents. “Preparing changes from one opponent to the next based on scouting reports,” said Rousey. “A lot of the changes are centered around the opposing pitcher because they are all different. So you have to prepare individually for those guys.”
One of those pitchers may be Gauchos Mario Hollands. Hollands is coming off a complete game 5-1 victory over UC Riverside on April 30. In that game, Hollands struck out five batters and allowed no walks while giving up one earned run.
The Gauchos bullpen was impressive in their April 27 5-4 victory over USC. In that win, the Gaucho bullpen pitched eight innings allowing the offense to rally from an early 4-0 deficit.
Despite their recent slump, some members of the Matadors are still displaying a confident attitude.
“We are always going for the sweep every series,” said Alex Muren. “That’s our goal, to go 3-0 in the series.”