March 28, 2007

Blauer's 24-Game Hitting Streak Ends as UCSB Loses 9-7 Decision to Cal

March 28, 2007

Box Score

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - Visiting Cal tallied three runs on four consecutive hits after two were out in the top of the seventh inning on Wednesday to break a 6-6 tie with UC Santa Barbara en route to a 9-7 win. With the win, the Golden Bears improve to 15-13 while the Gauchos drop to 11-13.

After Cal failed to score in its half of the first inning, UCSB hung a three spot on the board in their half. With one out, right fielder Mario Lewis walked. First baseman Robbie Blauer, who had his 24-game hitting streak snapped on Wednesday, lofted a pop-up to short left-center field. The wind carried the ball away from shortstop Michael Brady and it dropped in front of left fielder Ryan Hanlon. With the ball popped to short left, Lewis had to stay near the bag at first and was forced out at second on the play. Left fielder Mike Zuanich then lined a single to left and designated hitter Matt Anderson doubled to left, scoring Blauer and Zuanich. Catcher Chris McMurray's line drive triple down the right field line scored Anderson. At that point, Cal's lefty starter Mike Cassady was pulled in favor of Dane Ferguson, who walked the first two batters he faced, center fielder Chris Fox and third baseman Gunnar Terhune. Shortstop Shane Carlson, however, hit a fly ball to right field to end the inning with the Gauchos up, 3-0.

Cal got one back in the second inning without collecting a hit. Brian Tracy walked designated hitter Jordan Karnofsky and then hit Hanlon with a pitch. After a fielder's choice moved him to third base, Karnofsky scored on a sacrifice fly to make it 3-1.

The Golden Bears tied the score in the third inning and once again it was Tracy's wildness that keyed the rally as he walked the first two hitters of the inning before giving way to left-handed reliever Jeff Braun.

The first batter Braun faced in the inning, first baseman David Cooper, was safe on a throwing error by McMurray, loading the bases. Second baseman Josh Satin followed Cooper with a single through the left side to plate a pair of runs and tie the score at 3-3. Braun got out of the inning with no further damage.

In the bottom of the third, the Gauchos broke the tie. Zuanich was hit by a pitch leading off, moved to second on a ground out and then scored on a McMurray single.

Cal took its first lead of the game when it scored three runs off Braun in the fourth. The Golden Bears started the inning with three consecutive hits to tie the score at four apiece. Following a sacrifice bunt to move the runners into scoring position, Kobernus drove a single up the middle to notch two more runs and give his team a 6-4 edge.

UCSB tied the score with single runs in the fifth and sixth, but it was the runs that the Gauchos were denied in the bottom of the fourth that may have been the difference in the game.

Carlson began the inning with a single to right field and one out later, Lewis lined another single to right with Carlson stopping at second. After a fly out by Blauer, Zuanich stepped to the plate and drove a Ferguson pitch deep to left. Kobernus, who began the game in center field but moved to left in the third inning, sprinted back to the track. With his glove extended he leaped and caught Zuanich's ball well over the fence, robbing the Gaucho left fielder of a home run and instead ending the inning.

Santa Barbara did tie the score with single runs in the fifth and sixth, but then Cal exploded for three runs in the seventh. After retiring the first two batters, relief pitcher Bryan Fleming gave up a single to pinch hitter Taylor Grigsby and a double to right fielder Blake Smith to score the first run. Brady then singled through the left side to score Smith and pinch hitter Charlie Cutler doubled to left center to score Brady and make the score 9-6 Golden Bears.

The Gauchos got one back in the seventh. Fox began the inning with a bunt single and went to second on a single to right by Terhune. After a fly out to center field moved Fox to third, Rose singled to left, scoring Fox and advancing Terhune to second. Lewis, however, followed with a ground ball to shortstop that was parlayed into a double play, ending the threat.

UCSB also threatened in the eighth, but with runners on first and second and one out, McMurray grounded into an inning-ending double play. The Gauchos got one runner on in the ninth, but he never advanced past first.

Fleming (3-3) was tagged with the loss for Santa Barbara, while Craig Bennigson (1-2) pitched 2.1 innings of relief to post the win. Offensively, the Gauchos were paced by McMurray and Carlson who each had a pair of hits. McMurray and Anderson each had two RBI. As if his spectacular catch to prevent a three-run home run by Zuanich was not enough, Kobernus was a perfect 3-for-3 with a pair of walks and two RBI for Cal. Grigsby, Smith and catcher Dylan Tonneson each had two hits.

Blauer, who hit the ball hard in at least three of his at bats, went hitless. His 24-game hitting streak had been the longest by a UCSB player since current Colorado Rockies' outfielder Ryan Spilborghs hit in 35 straight during his sophomore season in 2001.

The Gauchos will hit the road for their next six games. On Friday, March 30, they will open a three-game non-conference series at Texas Christian with first pitch scheduled for 4:30 p.m. (PDT). UCSB will open Big West play at UC Riverside the following weekend when it plays a Thursday, Friday and Saturday series against the Highlanders.

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