March 30, 2008
Santa Barbara, Calif. - Four homeruns and a spectacular pitching effort from senior Chuck Huggins helped UC Santa Barbara (18-7, 3-0) sweep the three-game series against Cal State Northridge (10-13, 0-3) with a 10-6 win Sunday afternoon at Caesar Uyesaka Stadium. Huggins (5-1) was lights out through seven innings, allowing one run on seven hits, while walking none and striking out a season-high 11.
The Matadors jumped out to an early lead in the top of the first as first baseman Richard Cates singled home T.S. Reed to put Northridge ahead, 1-0.
It would be all Huggins would allow as he struck out two Matadors in the first inning, three in the second, and added a pair of strikeouts in the third, fourth, and sixth innings, respectively. Huggins victory on Sunday gives the southpaw a team-high five wins on the year, as he lowered his ERA to 3.53. Through 35.2 innings pitched, Huggins has struck out 44 batters. The Redwood City, Calif., native has amassed an impressive .238 batting average against, and a stellar 44-to-12 strikeout to walk ratio. Huggins had seven punchouts through three innings, nine through four, and 10 through five frames.
As they've done all year long, the Gauchos answered in the bottom half of the first. Chris Fox took the first pitch he saw from Matador starter Billy Ott and deposited it deep over the right field wall for his fourth homerun of the year, tying the score, 1-1.
UCSB scored twice in the second inning as they ran Ott from the game. A Matt McColgan sac-fly scored Matt Valaika from third to put the Gauchos ahead, 2-1. With two out and Patrick Rose on third, Brian Gump added an RBI single to center field to chase Ott from the game.
Ott (0-2) lasted only 1.2 innings, allowing three runs on three hits, striking out none and walking two.
The Gauchos put up two runs in the bottom of the fourth on back-to-back homeruns by Steve Cook and Gump. With two out and nobody on, Cook blasted a 2-1 pitch over the right centerfield wall. Cook's solo shot, his second on the year, gave the Gauchos a three run lead. Not to be outdone by Cook, Gump followed with his own long ball, raking a Davin Tate offering high over the right field wall to give the Gauchos a 5-1 advantage.
Back-to-back doubles to lead off the sixth inning from Valaika and Rose, followed by a Matt McColgan two-run jack put UCSB in front, 8-1. McColgan's homerun was his second on the year, and the fourth for the Gauchos on Sunday.
The Gaucho bullpen struggled in relief of Huggins allowing five Matador runs in the final two frames. Greg Davis, Anthony Martin, and Matt Wade combined to pitch the eighth. A Cates single started things off for Northridge. Dominic D'Anna pinch hit for Matt Carvutto and took Davis deep, hitting a homerun down the right field line to bring the Matadors within five, 8-3. Martin and Wade each retired a batter in relief of Davis to get out of the eighth.
UCSB added a pair of runs in the bottom half of the eighth extending their lead to seven, 10-3. After Gump was hit by a pitch and stole second, Fox drove him home with an RBI single through the right side. An RBI groundout from Shane Carlson two at-bats later, plated Fox to put UCSB ahead, 10-3.
The Matadors wouldn't go down quietly, scoring three times in the top of ninth. Jason Roenicke was unable to retire a batter, surrendering three runs on two hits. Zach Samuels came in to close things out, walking one and striking out one to extinguish the Northridge comeback effort.
Matt McColgan was 1-for-3 with a homerun, one run scored and three RBI. Fox went 2-for-4 with two runs scored and a pair of RBI, while Gump went 2-for-3 with two runs, two RBI, and two stolen bases.
The sweep of the Matadors puts the Gauchos atop the Big West Conference with a perfect 3-0 record. Sunday's victory marked the third sweep of the season for UCSB, after the Gauchos swept Marist to begin the year, Southern Utah in a four-game series from Mar. 14-16, and now the Matadors.
The Gauchos resume play on Tuesday, April 1 against the Pepperdine Waves at 2:00 p.m. at Caesar Uyesaka Stadium.