Feb. 16, 2007
SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - UCSB (2-1) took game one of a three-game series against Hawai'i (7-3) at Caesar Uyesaka Stadium by a count of 3-1 after a gem of a performance by senior right-hander Steve Morlock.
Morlock (1-1, 0.64) tossed a complete game three-hitter, tallying nine strikeouts and walking only one en route to his first victory of the season. The Kentfield, Calif. native retired the last sixteen batters in a row to close the game and seal the Gaucho 3-1 victory. The nine strikeouts were a career-high for Morlock, who tallied eight against UC Riverside on April 18, 2004. The nine-inning complete game was the first of that variety since 2005, when fellow Gaucho senior Michael Martin tossed nine complete to earn a 5-3 victory over Fresno State on February 19. For Morlock, it was his second complete game of his career, the first coming in an eight-inning game against Cal State Fullerton on April 29, 2005. In Friday's win over Hawai'i, Morlock surrendered a single run in the fourth and gave up a measly three singles over the nine innings.
Senior Mario Lewis and freshman Matt Valaika paced the Gauchos offensively, both finishing two-for-three with a double and an RBI on the day. The third Gaucho RBI came off the bat off junior Mike Zuanich, who earned a sacrifice fly to plate Blauer in the first inning.
Although Hawai'i only managed to scrape together three hits on the day, two of them came off the bat of leadoff man Jorge Franco. Franco finished two-for-four in the game. The lone Rainbow run came in the fourth inning when first baseman Kris Sanchez singled into centerfield to plate Jonathan Hee who had reached earlier in the inning on the only walk that Morlock issued all day.
Rainbow starter Ian Harrington lasted six innings, surrendering three runs on seven hits and one walk while striking out two to be tagged with the loss. The left-hander gave way to right-hander Matt Daly to start the seventh. Daly pitched two scoreless innings, giving up no hits while walking one and punching out two batters.
The Gauchos got all the run support they needed for Morlock in the first inning, plating two runs in the bottom half of the frame to take an early 2-0 advantage. Junior Patrick Rose got things started out of the leadoff spot, lofting a fly ball over the pitcher's mound that fell for an infield hit. Rose moved from first to third on a Robbie Blauer single on the ensuing play, with Blauer taking second on the throw. With runners on second and third and nobody out, UCSB traded two outs for two runs. Lewis grounded out to shortstop Eli Christensen to move Blauer to third and plate Rose for the first Gaucho run. Just moments later, Zuanich lofted a deep fly ball down the right field line to bring in Blauer and cap the Gaucho scoring run.
After Hawai'i had pushed one run across in the top of the fourth, UCSB answered right back with a run of its own in the bottom half of the inning. Zuanich led off with a walk before Harrington picked up his second strikeout of the afternoon to bring up sophomore Chris McMurray. On the ensuing play, McMurray connected for his only hit of the day, a single that put runners on first and second for Valaika. The Valencia, Calif. native took advantage of his opportunity, lining a base hit into centerfield to plate Zuanich and give UCSB the 3-0 advantage.
From the fourth inning on, Morlock was lights out. The right-hander tallied five of his nine strikeouts in the last five innings of play. As previously stated, Morlock retired the final sixteen batters faced to close the game and ensure his first win of the 2007 campaign.
UCSB and Hawai'i will continue the three-game series tomorrow at 1 p.m. Game two should feature left-hander Jeff Braun (0-0, 5.40) for the Gauchos against lefty Mark Rodrigues (3-0, 1.72) for the Rainbows.