March 14, 2007

Gauchos Succumb to Comeback Once Again, Fall 12-5 to Minnesota in Game Two

March 14, 2007

Box Score

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - After failing to hold on to a 4-0 advantage in yesterday's game, UCSB (7-10) let a 5-2 lead slip to Minnesota (10-3) before eventually falling 12-5 on Wednesday in game two of a two-game series being played at Caesar Uyesaka Stadium.

Every Gaucho starter collected a hit in the game, led by senior Robbie Blauer who batted three-for-five with two RBI. With the three hits, Blauer extended his hitting streak to eighteen games. Fellow senior Mario Lewis also contributed multiple hits in the outing, finishing two-for-five with a run scored and an RBI. Sophomore Shane Carlson had the best day in terms of average for the Gauchos, batting two-for-three with a run scored.

Senior southpaw Jeff Braun got the start for the Gauchos, lasting six and a third innings and allowing six runs on twelve hits and one walk while striking out three. After taking the loss, Braun is now 0-4 on the season. Justin Aspegren made his first appearance since March 6 against Pepperdine, tossing a third of an inning and allowing two runs on one hit and a walk. Left-hander Kyle Brown threw the next two-thirds of an inning, surrendering a run on three hits while striking out one before handing the ball over to sophomore right-hander Matt Wade. Wade contributed the last inning and two-thirds, giving up three runs on four hits while punching out two.

Left Fielder Mike Mee led the offensive charge for the Golden Gophers, batting four-for-five with a stolen base, two runs scored and two RBI. Dan Lyons also had a stellar day at the plate, finishing three-for-six with two doubles, two runs scored and an RBI. Third baseman Nate Hanson and senior Sean Kommerstad also supplied three hits in the victory. Kommerstad was the leading RBI-man for Minnesota, finishing with three on the day. Left-handed starter Marcus McKenzie tossed the first four innings for the Golden Gophers before being replaced by Tyler Oakes in the fifth. Oakes, the game's eventual winning pitcher, threw the next two and two-thirds innings, allowing no runs on five hits to earn his third win of the season. Kyle Carr entered the game in a save opportunity in the seventh and threw the final two and a third innings, allowing a single hit and recording his first save of the season.

UCSB came out swinging in the first, plating three runs in the bottom of the frame to take an early 3-0 advantage. Back-to-back push bunts by junior Chris Fox and Lewis went for hits to put runners at first and second. On the ensuing play, a wild pitch got away from catcher Kyle Knudson and when he tried to throw Fox out at third base, the errant throw skipped away from Hanson at third and allowed Fox to score and put Lewis at third. Blauer traded a groundout to second for a run just a few pitches later, and UCSB took the 2-0 lead. Junior Mike Zuanich got the rally started once again, singling into left field with one out. Two batters later, freshman Matt Valaika singled to put runners at first and second for Chris McMurray. McMurray took advantage of the opportunity, lacing a single into centerfield to plate Zuanich for the third run of the inning.

The Golden Gophers answered back for a run of their own in the top of the second. After a Kommerstad single and stolen base put a runner at second with one out, Knudson flew out to right field to bring up Tom Steidl. Steidl extended the inning and moved the runners to the corners with a base hit into right field. On the ensuing play, leadoff hitter Tijl Vanderwege produced a clutch two-out single through the left side to plate Kommerstad and cut the deficit to 3-1.

The Gauchos answered right back in the bottom of the frame, plating a single run on two hits. A Carlson single got the ball rolling for the Gauchos before a Fox sacrifice bunt moved the runner to second base. Two batters later, Blauer extended his hitting streak with a single into left centerfield to plate Carlson.

Once again, Minnesota posted one run in the third inning. Hanson singled into centerfield with one out before stealing second base on a strikeout of Bryan Jost for the second out. This time it was Kommerstad who came up with the clutch base hit for the Golden Gophers, singling home Hanson on the very next play.

Unfortunately for UCSB, it scored its final run of the game in bottom of the fourth. Robby Cummings connected for his first hit as a Gaucho before moving to second base on a Carlson sacrifice bunt. After a Fox strikeout resulted in the second out of the inning, Lewis contributed a base hit into left centerfield to plate Cummings and put UCSB on top by a count of 5-2.

The Golden Gophers would then plate ten unanswered runs in the final five innings of play, sweeping the series with the 12-5 victory. Minnesota notched two runs in the fifth, exploded for four in the seventh, pushed one across in the eighth and tacked on three in the ninth for the victory. The big blow in the fifth came off the bat of Kommerstad, who blasted a two-out, two-RBI double down the left field line to plate Hanson and Mee.

After a Lyons double and a Mee walk put runners at first and second in the seventh inning, a fly ball moved the two runners up ninety feet. On the ensuing play Jost singled home Lyons and put runners at the corners. Aspegren came out of the Gaucho bullpen, calling an end to Braun's day. Aspegren recorded a pick-off of Jost at first base for the second out of the inning before walking pinch hitter Matt Nohelty. A second consecutive pinch hitter, Kyle Baran, connected for a two-RBI double into left field on the ensuing play to plate Mee and Nohelty. Derek McCallum, a third pinch hitter for the Golden Gophers, singled to right field to plate the fourth and final run of the seventh one batter later.

In the eighth, Lyons connected for his second double of the game before coming around to score on the next play when Mee singled into centerfield. The Golden Gophers tacked on three insurance runs in the ninth, with McCallum, Lyons and Mee all contributing RBI singles in the inning.

UCSB will return to action this weekend when it hosts Loyola Marymount at 2 p.m. on Friday. Game two of the three-game series is slated for 1 p.m. on Saturday and game three is scheduled for a 1 p.m. start on Sunday.

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