April 9, 2011
SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - If UC Santa Barbara left fielder Joe Wallace wasn't thankful for Mother Nature before Saturday's Big West game against Cal Poly, he had to be after it.
Wallace belted a wind-blown, game-winning three-run home run over the right center field fence with two outs in the bottom of the eighth, giving the Gauchos (13-12 overall, 1-1 in the Big West) a 7-4 win over the visiting Mustangs (11-15, 3-2) in the second game of the series between the teams.
"We constantly talk to our guys about that," said UCSB head coach Bob Brontsema. "When the wind is blowing out to right the way it was today, take that pitch the other way. Wallace did a great job of that in the eighth inning and got us the big home run."
The home run was the third of the season for Wallace and the third of the game for UCSB. It also made up for one that Mother Nature kept in the park.
With the Gauchos leading 1-0, third baseman Ryan Palermo led off the second inning with a towering shot to left field. The ball seemed to be headed well beyond the left field fence, but instead was caught against the fence by Cal Poly left fielder Jimmy Allen.
Mother Nature giveth and Mother Nature taketh away.
"That ball was crushed," Brontsema said. "On a normal day, without the wind, that ball is into the trees."
The Mustangs tied the score at 1-1 in the top of the fourth inning when center fielder Bobby Crocker singled to lead things off and ultimately scored on a bases loaded wild pitch by UCSB starter Greg Davis.
The Gauchos answered in the bottom of the fourth when right fielder, who had driven in the team's first run in the first inning, hit his third home run of the season over the fence in right field.
Cal Poly itself wasted no time responding. Catcher Jordan Hadlock lined a double down the left field line to start the fifth. After a walk to Evan Busby, Allen tried to sacrifice the runners to second and third but Davis couldn't pick the ball up and the bases were loaded.
Crocker, the next batter, grounded into a double play, with Hadlock scoring to tie the score at 2-2 and advance Busby to third. Denver Chavez was walked and then the Big West's leading hitter, Mike Miller, singled through the right side to score Busby and move Chavez to third. D.J. Gentile followed Miller with a single through the left side to chase Chavez home and give the Mustangs a 4-2 lead.
UCSB tied the score in the bottom of the fifth. With one out, designated hitter lofted a fly ball down the right field line that landed in the middle of three Mustang defenders. Derek Eligio, who made just his fifth start of the season, drove starting pitcher Steven Fischback's first pitch over the fence in dead center field, tying the score at 4-4.
The game remained tied until Wallace's game-winning shot in the bottom of the eighth. His home run also scored Haddow, who had reached on fielder's choice, and Palermo, who had singled.
The game-winning home run by Wallace allowed the Gauchos to finally get to Cal Poly reliever Frankie Reed (0-2). Reed had dominated UCSB in his first two innings of work and he finished with five strikeouts and now walks in his 3.0 innings.
Davis lasted until one out in the seventh inning and didn't get the decision. Bryce Uhrig (1-0), Santa Barbara's fourth pitcher of the day, earned the win after rescuing the Gauchos in the eighth. He relieved Kevin Gelinas, who began the eighth by walking Mitch Haniger and allowing a single to J.J. Thompson. The first batter to face Uhrig,, Hadlock, sacrificed the runners to second and third. Busby was then intentionally walked and Allen was induced to ground into an inning-ending double play, setting the stage for Wallace.
Nick Loredo pitched a one-hit and scoreless ninth to earn his fourth save of the season.
UCSB and Cal Poly will play the third and rubber game of the series on Sunday afternoon at 1:00 p.m. at Caesar Uyesaka Stadium. The winner of Sunday's game will win the series and earn a point in the Blue-Green Rivalry series between the schools. The Blue-Green Rivalry is sponsored by the Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians.
To purchase tickets, please call (805) 893-UCSB, visit the Ticket Office located inside the Intercollegiate Athletics building on campus or buy online and print at home by clicking here.