Off to a 14-10 start and 7-5 in the California Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA), the UCSD Baseball team is coming off an impressive homestand in which it took three-of-four from seventh-ranked Cal State L.A. The Tritons now head into a tough stretch where they will play No. 13 Cal State Stanislaus and No. 3 Chico State in each of the next 11 games. Outfielder David Gomez has been a big part of the Tritons' recent success, hitting .351 with 55 total bases (second on the squad) in 23 games. Gomez adds power (second on team in homeruns) and speed (six steals), along with a strong arm. The senior from Orange, Calif. recently took time to discuss life on the baseball team and as a student-athlete at UC San Diego.
Q- How do you feel about the team at this point in the season?
GOMEZ- Right now I am really excited. We just came off that series against Cal State L.A. and took 3-of-4. I think early in the season we may have been doubting ourselves a bit. The L.A. series really showed us how good we are and how good each one of us is. Right now I feel very good about where this team is going.
Q- How has your role changed this year, now that you are a senior?
GOMEZ- It hasn't really changed too much. I am doing the same thing as last year in going out and working hard each day. We do have serveral new guys this year, but it does not seem like they need too much support or leadership. They are doing well and I think anyone on our team can be a leader.
Q- Have the seniors talked to the newcomers about being the defending conference champions?
GOMEZ- We have not really talked about that. We do have the championship banner in our team room which is a reminder. Other than that, we are concentrating on this season. It's a new year and anyone can win it--it's up for grabs. Being the defending champions, it is harder for us because everyone wants to beat the champs.
Q- Several freshmen have contributed this year. Would you like to share any thoughts on them?
GOMEZ- Four or five are starting. A couple guys come to mind. Trevor Decker just comes to the mound and deals. We needed a guy who could do that because we lost a couple guys from last year's bullpen. Our second baseman Garrett Imeson is on a hot streak right now. He is just doing some unbelievable things. There are also quite a few freshmen that are right there on the border of starting. Once they get the opportunity, I am sure they will take advantage of that as well. I am really excited about how the freshmen have stepped up.
Q- Will there be any different approaches this week with No. 13 Cal State Stanislaus and No. 3 Chico State in the upcoming week, along with finals?
GOMEZ- This is probably the most difficult time of the season with finals here and on top of that the top notch competition. Using your time-management skills is just part of being a student-athlete at UCSD. We have not really addressed it being finals week, but throughout the quarter, the coaches are always on us to stay academically healthy. As long as we keep playing the type of baseball that we are capable of playing, we should do well against Stanislaus and Chico. We just come to practice and work hard. When we come to practice, we try to leave our personal lives, school lives, outside of the field. Once we are on that field, we focus on the task at hand... to get better each day.
Q- This year, the CCAA schedule has the teams playing each other four times each. Last year the conference was split with a north and south division, where you play more games within your own division. Which do you prefer?
GOMEZ- I like it like this year's, where we play everyone four times. The way they had it last year, it was more of a trial period... we would play the teams in our division, the south division six times (home and away) and play the north division just four times. I like it where everyone plays each other four times because the strength of teams will not always be the same in the north and south. One team may be of great talent, but not have a great record because the teams are beating each other in the conference. I think playing four times each is more of a fair way to get the four best teams into the conference tournament.
Q- How has the coaching staff helped you since your first season at UCSD?
GOMEZ- The coaching staff has helped me mature and be the best type of player I can be. They have a way of showing to you how to get it done. With Dan (O'Brien) and Chad (Addison) being UCSD graduates, they know what it takes to get it done on the field and in the classroom. The coaching staff here has been the best that I have ever had. I really appreciate their work.
Q- Have you ever wanted to play a different position?
GOMEZ- No, can't say that I have. I realize that being a lefty, it limits me from playing the infield. I like rightfield. It is a challenge out there, especially at our home field. You have the sun to deal with, the ocean breeze blowing out, it's tough, but I like it out there.
Q- How has this week been? A doubleheader in Phoenix, finals in a few days and more games this weekend?
GOMEZ- It's getting tougher. Luckily right now as a senior, I do not have to take all of the classes the younger guys are taking. It's probably tougher on them. I've learned how to deal with it, how to space out my time. The Phoenix trip was fun. We also had time on the plane and at the airport to get our school work done. It hasn't been too rough.
Q- Which pitcher on UCSD's staff are you glad you do not have to face?
GOMEZ- I'm glad that I do not have to face Jose (Navarro). Jose's the guy that just comes after you. He has that nice curve ball that throws many hitters off.
Q- Have you had any thoughts about what you'd like to do after this year?
GOMEZ- Yes and no. I would like to continue playing baseball. I'd also like to start my career after I get my degree in Economics. I am really 50/50 right now. I'll probably play summer ball. There is a good team in Palm Springs. I'd like to give that a shot and go from there. I'd like to play amateur ball, minor league ball, but I will roll with the punches, whatever happens, I will be happy with.
Q- Have any good stories that involve the team this year?
OMEZ- It is a tradition that every year on the first roadtrip, a joke is played on a freshman. On our way to San Bernardino one of our guys took one of the freshmen's jersey out of his bag. When we got there, he was going crazy looking for his jersey. Everyone was playing along with it, even coach O'Brien got in on it, asking where his jersey was. And finally coach just showed him his jersey. It was all a good time. This particular freshman had some good laughs, was a good sport. Everyone had a good time, we like to have a good time with each other. It builds team chemistry and it's good to have that fun time with each other.
Q- Is there alot of baseball experience in your family?
GOMEZ- My dad and grandpa played alot of baseball. My dad did not play too long, but he coached alot. He coached me in little league. It helped me out alot. He showed me the ropes, how to work hard and get the job done. It doesn't matter where you start, it's how you finish. He always emphasized that those who grind throughout the season, wind up on top. Not just in a season, but a career too.
Q- Was it an easy decision in choosing UCSD?
GOMEZ- I went to Irvine Valley College for one year and wanted to stay in Southern California. I was choosing between here and USD. I liked both. The degree from UCSD meant more than from USD. As far as the baseball program, I knew some people on the team and they spoke highly of it. It was a difficult decision, but here at UCSD, I've learned a lot and met many interesting people--people that I'll end up knowing for the rest of my life. I'm glad I chose UCSD.