Feb. 27, 2004
SANTA BARBARA, Calif - After trailing by as many as six runs, the UC Santa Barbara baseball team fought back but fell short, eventually succumbing to Fresno State 7-6 Friday afternoon at Caesar Uyesaka Stadium. The Gauchos used a five-run seventh inning and 4.1 scoreless innings from their bullpen to keep the game close.
Fresno State touched Gaucho starter Steve Morlock (1-3) for three runs in the first inning for what turned out to be the winning margin. The Gauchos plated a run of their own in the second but the Bulldogs posted a single run in the third and three more in the fifth to take a 7-1 lead. Morlock lasted 4.2 innings, his shortest outing of the year, surrendering seven runs on eight hits. He struck out two and walked three.
Bulldog starting pitcher and winner Michael Cooper (1-1) faced one batter in the UCSB seventh before the Gauchos went on to post five runs and even bring the tying run to third base. Cooper finished his day with six innings pitched after surrendering two runs (one earned) on four hits.
UCSB knocked out six hits in the losing effort. Junior second baseman Chris Malec was 1-for-4 with two RBI and catcher Taylor Vogt was also 1-for-4 with a run scored and an RBI. With an 0-for-4 day at the plate, sophomore first baseman Bill Rowe snapped his 10-game hitting streak.
Fresno State got its offensive support mainly from centerfielder Richie Robnett, who had 2-for-4 performance at the plate including two runs, two RBI and a towering home run to right field. Robnett may have overshadowed Bulldog catcher Brandon Marcelli who was a perfect 4-for4 with a run and an RBI.
In the Bulldog three-run first, Fresno State picked up runs via a Richie Robnett RBI single, a David Gomez RBI groundout and a Morlock wild pitch, which scored designated hitter Kent Sakamoto. In the fifth, Fresno State used Robnett's home run and another wild pitch to score Marecelli from third.
The Gauchos got their run in the second when Vogt, who had singled to lead off the inning, advanced to third on a second baseman Ryan Haag's fielding error and then scored on a Matt Wilkerson fielder's choice groundout. UCSB would not score again for four more innings.
In the explosive seventh, the Gauchos sent ten batters to the plate but only needed two hits to close the gap to 7-6. Head Coach Mike Batesole used five different hurlers in the 33-minute inning as UCSB capitalized on five walks and a wild pitch. Highlighting the inning was Malec's no-out, bases load, two-RBI single. Two batters after Vogt brought the game to within one run with an RBI sacrifice fly scoring pinch hitter David Figoni, the Bulldog's final pitcher of the inning, Matt Garza got pinch hitter Matt Stevens to fly out to left with runners on the corners.
Freshman right-hander Andy Graham tossed 3.1 scoreless relief innings and senior southpaw Ivan Ramirez tossed a perfect inning to produce an impressive outing from the Gaucho relief core. The two combined for 4.1 innings of scoreless, two-hit ball.
However, the Gaucho bats went down in order in the eighth and ninth innings. Garza picked up his second save of the year with 2.1 perfect innings.
In the losing effort, UCSB senior third baseman Nate Sutton stole his team-leading seventh base and Vogt threw out his fourth and fifth baserunner attempting to steal. So far this year, Vogt is 5-for-13 in throwing runners out.
Prior to the game, the Gauchos honored the memory of Eric Pintard who died Monday after a ten year battle with cancer. Eric's father Bill, his wife Jessica and his brother Ethan all threw out ceremonial first pitches as the American flag flew at half-mast. Eric was a long-time fixture in the Santa Barbara baseball world after pitching for the local Santa Barbara Foresters semi-pro team and at Santa Barbara City College. His father, Bill, is the general manager of the Foresters and the father-son combination also helped form the cancer fighting non-profit organization Hugs for Cubs.
The Gauchos and Bulldogs will square off for game two of this weekend's series tomorrow at 1 p.m. at Caesar Uyesaka Stadium