March 28, 2008
Santa Barbara, Calif. - The UC Santa Barbara baseball team (16-7, 1-0) won its first Big West Conference game of the year defeating rival Cal State Northridge (10-11, 0-1) by a score of 9-5 on Friday afternoon at Caesar Uyesaka Stadium. The Gauchos got off to a hot start collecting 14 hits, six for extra bases, while receiving a strong effort from sophomore ace Mike Ford.
As they have done for much of the season, the Gauchos scored early in Friday's contest, plating five runs in the bottom of the first inning. The five run first gave the Gauchos a combined 28 runs scored in the first inning of their 23 games to begin the season.
Junior Brian Gump got things started in the bottom of the first with a leadoff double down the left field line. The Gauchos then played small ball, as Chris Fox sacrificed Gump over to third, with a well-executed bunt to the right side of the infield. First baseman Eric Oliver followed Fox delivering an RBI single to shallow left to put the Gauchos ahead, 1-0. After robbing a homerun off the bat of Matador catcher John Parham in the bottom of the first with a perfectly timed jump catch over the left field wall, Mike Zuanich continued his heroics with a two-run blast that sailed high over the left field scoreboard. Zuanich's second homerun on the year gave the Gauchos an early 3-0 advantage. A John DeAlba double, followed by a Patrick Rose hit-by-pitch, put Gauchos on first and second with two down. Junior backstop Chris McMurray added to the barrage, lacing a two-RBI double into the left centerfield gap, scoring DeAlba and Rose to give UCSB a 5-0 lead after one inning of play.
Ford (3-2) was on cruise control early, as the Gauchos backed their ace scoring singular runs in each of the next three frames to take an 8-0 lead.
Fox drove in Gump with an infield groundout in the second, increasing the Gaucho lead to 6-0.
In the bottom of the third, Steve Cook dumped an RBI single over the head of Matador second baseman T.S. Reed, to score DeAlba from third, giving UCSB a 7-0 advantage.
After surrendering a sac-fly RBI to Matador first baseman Jowan-James Murray-Thornton for the first Northridge run of the game, Ford struck out Justin Demarco with a beautifully placed curveball on the inside half of the plate to escape a bases loaded jam.
The Gauchos ran Matador starter Jimmy Jolicoeur (1-3) from the game in the top of the fourth, scoring a run on a fielder's choice to lengthen their lead to 8-1. Jolicoeur lasted only 3.1 innings, allowing eight runs on 10 hits, while walking two and striking out none.
The Matadors struck for two runs in the top of the fifth as a throwing error from Gaucho third baseman Patrick Rose prolonged the inning. Northridge left fielder Richard Cates delivered a two-RBI single to right field, to put the Matadors within reach, 8-3.
Ford would exit the game in the seventh after allowing an RBI single to Matador right fielder Drew Mursen, which brought the Matadors within four, 8-4. Ford gave way to the Gaucho's most reliable reliever, Kyle Brown, who after loading the bases with a pair of walks, induced Murray-Thornton to fly out to left field to end the seventh inning threat.
Ford scattered five hits over 6.1 innings of work en route to his third win on the year, allowing four runs (two earned), while striking out three and walking five.
The Gauchos scored again in the bottom of the seventh, as McMurray's third hit of the day, an RBI single through the left side, gave UCSB a 9-4 advantage.
Senior right-hander Michael Martin pitched the final two frames of relief for the Gauchos, allowing a singular run in the ninth.
Four Gauchos had three-hit performances including Gump, Oliver, DeAlba, and McMurray. Gump went 3-for-4 with two runs scored and a stolen base, his 13th of the year. Oliver added three hits in five at-bats, with two runs scored and one RBI. DeAlba collected two doubles in a 3-for-4 effort, scoring three runs in the process, while McMurray led the Gauchos offensively with a 3-for-4, three RBI day.
The Gauchos have scored 57 percent of their runs (96 of 167) within the first four innings of games this year. They are an impressive 15-2 when scoring six or more runs. In addition, UCSB is a perfect 16-0 when leading after six innings of play. The Gauchos first Big West Conference win of the year, pushed their winning streak to four in a row.
UCSB resumes play tomorrow, March 29, as they take on Northridge at 1:00 p.m. at Caesar Uyesaka Stadium.