February 18, 2007

UCSB Lets Two-Run Lead Slip, Falls 9-2 in Rubber Match Against Hawai'i

Feb. 18, 2007

Box Score

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - UCSB (2-3) was unable to hold on to a 2-0 early advantage over visiting Hawai'i (9-3), dropping the rubber match of a three-game weekend series 9-2 at Caesar Uyesaka Stadium on Sunday.

Junior Chris Fox led the Gauchos offensively out of the leadoff spot, batting three-for-four with a double and an RBI on the day. Senior Robbie Blauer also tallied multiple hits in the loss, finishing two-for-four on Sunday. Fellow senior Mario Lewis continued his hot hitting, tallying his team-high third double on the season to run his average to .333.

Freshman Mike Ford got the start for the Gauchos, lasting two and a third innings while surrendering two runs on one hit and four walks and striking out five. The lone hit that the Scottsdale, Ariz. native surrendered was a bunt single off the bat of Jorge Franco in the third inning. Even though Ford seemed to dominate opposing hitters, he struggled to find the strike zone, which resulted in an early departure and a quick call to the Gaucho bullpen. Senior Brian Tracy was the first of six Gaucho relievers who were called upon to deliver innings in Sunday's loss. Tracy tossed two and two-thirds innings, surrendering a run on three hits and two walks while striking out two en route to being charged with the loss. UCSB used four relievers in the sixth, the first being junior left-hander Kyle Brown. Brown faced three batters and gave up two runs on one hit and a hit batsman while striking one Rainbow for the first out of the inning. Sophomore Matt Wade came on and walked the only batter he faced before giving way to senior right-hander Justin Aspegren. The native of Napa, Calif. also faced one batter in the inning, giving up a two-RBI single into the left-centerfield gap. Gaucho lefty Chuck Huggins came on for his second consecutive day of work, collecting the final two outs of the inning for UCSB. Senior closer Justin Segal was called upon to pitch the seventh, eighth and ninth innings for the Gauchos, allowing two runs on two hits and two walks while striking out two batters.

Second baseman Jon Hee had an outstanding day at the plate for Hawai'i, finishing one-for-three with a walk, two runs scored and three RBI. Brandon Haislet also contributed to the Rainbow offensive effort, batting two-for-four with a run scored and an RBI. With a homerun in the top of the ninth, Hawai'i's Kris Sanchez extended his hitting streak to sixteen games. For Sanchez, it was his fourth homerun on the season. Rainbow starter Josh Schneider lasted seven innings, surrendering two runs (one earned) on seven hits and a walk while striking out one batter to earn his first win of the season. Reliever Tyler Davis came on to pitch the eighth and ninth innings for Hawai'i, allowing a hit and a walk while tallying three strikeouts to seal the 9-2 Rainbow victory.

UCSB got on the board first in the bottom of the second, plating two runs in the frame to take an early 2-0 advantage. Lewis got things started with a leadoff double down the left field line before moving to third base on a sacrifice bunt by Cody Dee. On the ensuing play, second baseman Matt Valaika hit a grounder that was miss-handled by third baseman Justin Frash, allowing Lewis to score and Valaika to reach first. After a walk to sophomore Shane Carlson put runners at first and second, Carlson was picked off by catcher Landon Hernandez for the second out of the inning. Despite having some wind taken out of its sail, UCSB managed to push the second run of the inning across on an RBI double down the right field line by Fox.

The Rainbows refused to trail for long, evening the score at two runs apiece in the top of the third. Leadoff walks to Hernandez and Derek DuPree put runners at first and second before Franco's bunt single loaded the bases with no one out. After a wild pitch plated the first Rainbow run of the inning, Hee sent a line drive right to left fielder Mike Zuanich that was deep enough for DuPree to tag-up and score from third base.

Following a scoreless fourth, the Rainbows added one run in the fifth and four runs in the sixth to blow the game wide open. Much like it did in the third inning, Hawai'i loaded the bases with no outs in the fifth. On the ensuing play, UCSB traded a run for two outs when Tracy induced a double-play grounder to Valaika at second base. After UCSB pitching loaded the bases with one out in the sixth, Aspegren surrendered the two-RBI single to Hee to plate the fourth and fifth runs of the game for Hawai'i. Two plays later, Dee was charged with a passed ball that allowed the third run of the inning to score for the Rainbows and moved runners to second and third. On the next play, Haislet lofted a deep fly ball into centerfield to plate Hee and give Hawai'i the 7-2 lead.

The Rainbows added two more insurance runs in the top of the ninth, with the big blow coming off the bat of Sanchez when he blasted a Segal pitch over the wall in left-centerfield to extend his hitting streak. Davis pitched a scoreless ninth for Hawai'i, striking out pinch-hitter Austin Hogans and retiring pinch hitters Steve Domecus and Robby Cummings on a ground ball and fly ball, respectively.

UCSB will be back in action on Tuesday as they host cross-town rival Westmont at 2 p.m. at Caesar Uyesaka Stadium. UCSB holds an 83-23 all-time series lead over the Warriors.