April 19, 2011
SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - No matter what Mark Haddow did as he stepped to the plate with two out in the bottom of the 15th inning on Tuesday, he was likely the game's last batter.
Darkness had fallen on Caesar Uyesaka Stadium and UC Santa Barbara and Pepperdine had been at a stalemate for nearly four hours.
So, rather than have the game suspended due to a sunset, Haddow launched a prodigious blast deep into the trees in center field to give UCSB a walk-off, 3-2 victory in the longest game in stadium history.
Haddow's missile set off a stream of blue jerseys coming from the Gaucho dugout as his Gaucho teammates mobbed the senior. Haddow had a career-high four hits including his first career walk-off homer as UCSB snapped a four-game losing streak.
Buoyed by the efforts of left-hander Nick Capito out of the bullpen, UCSB kept it close throughout the afternoon. Capito pitched 4.1 brilliant innings, allowing just three hits and consistently giving the Gauchos a chance to win in the bottom half of each extra inning.
Haddow just chose to make it all the more dramatic. UCSB last played 15 innings on Feb. 20, 1990 at USC, which resulted in a 6-5 loss. The previous longest game at Caesar Uyesaka Stadium was last season in a 14-inning defeat to Cal State Northridge. Haddow's homer prevented the school's first tie since 1998.
UCSB had lost all four of its games last week by one run - the first time in program history that had happened - before turning the tables on Pepperdine by rallying late and giving the Waves (16-19 overall) a taste of its own medicine.
In all four games last week the Gauchos' (15-16) opponents had rallied against UCSB's bullpen. On Tuesday, it was Santa Barbara's turn.
Trailing 2-0 entering the bottom of the eighth inning, Ben Edelstein led off with a triple down the right field line and scored on Sean Williams' ensuing double. After two flyouts, Williams scored on Ryan Palermo's base hit to left field to tie the game.
Then, the standoff began.
Bryce Uhrig, who had been the victim of a five-run eighth inning vs. Pepperdine on March 1, pitched 2.2 scoreless innings, allowing just three hits. In the ninth, the Waves' Zach Vincej hit a ball off Uhrig's foot that took a fortuitous hop to Williams at second, who stepped on the bag and threw to first to complete an inning-ending double play.
With a man on second in the Pepperdine 10th, Uhrig struck out Harrison Kain looking then got a terrific pick-me-up from first baseman Joe Wallace. Pepperdine's Miles Silverstein hit a shot down the first base line that Wallace dove to stab on one hop then took it to the bag himself to end the inning.
After a two-out single in the 11th, Connor Whalen relieved Uhrig and walked two batters to load the bases. That elicited the move for Capito, who got Cody Yount to ground out to Wallace to end the inning.
The Gauchos, equally, couldn't catch a break after Palermo's single. Until Wallace's single in the 13th, UCSB had just one baserunner since Palermo's base hit when Lance Roenicke reached on an error.
Wallace stole second in the 13th and Haddow walked, but Palermo flied out and Roenicke struck out to end the threat.
Then, Haddow sent everyone home with his rocket shot that was more of a scorching line drive 25 feet off the ground than a towering shot, a no-doubter that eased the Gauchos' pain of last week and finally capped their comeback over Pepperdine.
After Wednesday's off day, the Gauchos open a three-game series vs. Long Beach State on Thursday at 3 p.m. Friday's game is at 3 and Saturday's is at 1 p.m. All three games can be heard live on AM 1290 or online by clicking here.
Tickets are available by calling (805) 893-UCSB or online by clicking here.