March 2, 2008
Los Angeles, Calif. - The UC Santa Barbara Gauchos (5-3) took the series finale from the Loyola Marymount Lions (3-5) on Sunday, winning 3-2 in a pitchers duel at Page Stadium. Senior southpaw Chuck Huggins pitched seven strong innings en route to his second victory in as many starts to begin the year.
Huggins, a native of Redwood City, Calif., dazzled the Lions through seven innings, allowing two earned runs on six hits, striking out eight and walking only two. Huggins, last years win leader at 6-2, proved valuable on Sunday, giving the Gaucho bullpen some much-needed rest. Junior transfer Zach Samuels came on in relief of Huggins to pitch a scoreless eighth giving way to redshirt sophomore Clayton Edwards who slammed the door on the Lions, pitching a perfect ninth for his first save of the year.
Lion starter Xavier Esquivel pitched three innings before handing the ball to Lee Roberts. Roberts threw six innings of four-hit ball, allowing only one run, striking out one and walking none. However, Roberts wouldn't get the offensive run support he needed, picking up the loss.
The Gauchos got the ball rolling with a pair of runs in the third inning. Chris Fox tripled down the right field line to leadoff the inning. Two unsuccessful attempts to bring Fox home from third brought Mike Zuanich to the plate with two outs. Zuanich worked the count and eventually drew a walk off Roberts. This brought John DeAlba to the plate, who saw a Roberts wild pitch sail to the backstop, allowing Fox to score easily from third and Zuanich to advance to second. DeAlba took the next pitch he saw and laced a double down the right field line, scoring Zuanich to make the score 2-0.
The resilient Lions answered the Gauchos in the bottom of the fourth, scoring two runs of their own. DH Sean Dovel sparked the Lions with a leadoff double to begin the fourth. Angelo Songco followed with an infield single, as Dovel scored on the play courtesy of a Huggins throwing error. Third baseman Ryan Wheeler's sac-fly two at-bats later drove home Songco to tie the game at 2-2.
The Gauchos struck again in the sixth to regain the lead. DeAlba singled to third base with one out, and stole second on the following at-bat. With two-out and DeAlba standing on second, senior Patrick Rose came through in the clutch, singling to dead center to score DeAlba, the eventual winning run.
It would be all the Gauchos would need as Huggins threw a scoreless seventh, giving way to Samuels and Edwards to close it out.
UCSB dropped Friday's continuation game earlier in the day, resuming play in the ninth inning. With the score tied 6-6 in the top of the ninth, the Gauchos threatened with a leadoff double by Eric Oliver. A popup on the following at-bat gave way to DeAlba. DeAlba lined a pitch to right field, as Oliver broke towards third at the crack of the bat. Lion right fielder Ollie Enos caught the ball and easily doubled up Oliver at second to end the threat.
Edwards came in to pitch the bottom of the ninth, and immediately surrendered a leadoff single to Lion centerfield Angelo Songco. Will Dugoni pinch ran for Songco, who eventually wound up on third after a groundout and a Shane Carlson throwing error. Enos stepped to the plate and drilled an Edwards offering into left field to score Dugoni and give the Lions the win, 7-6.
The Gauchos split their four-game weekend set with the Lions, moving their overall record to 5-3 on the year. The Gauchos resume play at Caesar Uyesaka Stadium on Tuesday, March 4th at 2:00 p.m. against the Cal Poly Mustangs.