April 9, 2004
IRVINE, Calif. - UC Santa Barbara overcame a possible no-hitter, battled through a questionable umpiring call and rebounded from a misplaced fly ball, but still fell 5-3 to No. 10 UC Irvine in tonight's Big West matchup at Anteater Ballpark. The loss is the Gauchos' second in as many nights to UCI and drops their record to 20-12, 0-2 in the Big West.
UCI took an early lead with an unearned run in the fourth inning. With one out, converted left-fielder Bill Rowe dropped a fly ball in left field, allowing designated hitter R.J. Brown to reach second. After a groundout moved Brown to third, UCSB starting pitcher Andy Graham's first career balk allowed him to score. Then in the sixth, UCI got some help from the bright lights over head as center fielder Matt Stevens lost a bases-loaded fly ball in the Irvine night sky, allowing two runs to score and opening the gates to a four-run output. A two-out Nate Sutton throwing error allowed UCI's final run to score in the inning, accounting for the second unearned run of the night.
Like Friday's nights 7-0 loss, UCSB could not figure out UCI's starting pitching. Tonight it was southpaw Glenn Swanson who tossed 6.2 effective innings, allowing three runs on three hits while striking out a career high eleven batters. Swanson carried a no-hitter into the seventh when Gaucho designated hitter Taylor Vogt broke up the effort with a single to left field. Vogt was followed by Matt Wilkerson's line drive single to center and pinch-hitter David Figoni's two-RBI double off the left field wall. After Steve Schroer replaced Swanson on the mound, UCSB freshman Chris Valaika delivered another single to center scoring Figoni for UCSB's third and final run.
UCSB Head Coach Bob Brontsema was ejected from the game in the fifth after arguing a possibly missed balk call. After Wilkerson walked to lead off the inning, with Valaika at the plate, Swanson used his left-handed pick-off move to nail Wilkerson at first. Brontsema, along with the rest of the UCSB coaching staff, argued that Swanson had crossed the invisible 45 degree plane that pitcher are afforded for their leg kick when throwing to first base. After arguing with both the home plate and first base umpires, Brontsema, with his foot, pointed to the spot on mound on which Swanson had landed. It was then that home plate umpire Ruben Chavira tossed him from the game.
Overshadowed by Swanson's performance and the on-field disturbances was Graham (2-2), who in a hard-luck loss allowed three earned runs on five hits in 6.1 innings of work. Two of those earned runs scored on the misplayed ball in the outfield.
UCSB and UCI will conclude this weekend's Big West matchup Saturday afternoon at 1 p.m. at Anteater Ballpark. On the mound for UCSB will be right-handed sophomore Steve Morlock (5-4) looking for his third straight win. He will be opposed by UCI's Chris Nicoll.