April 20, 2008
Santa Barbara, Calif. - Chuck Huggins pitched a complete game shutout, leading UC Santa Barbara (27-11) to its first ever three-game sweep of University of Southern California (19-19) in Head Coach Bob Brontsema's tenure. Huggins (7-1) was masterful throughout, mixing fastballs and changeups all day long, allowing only five hits, while striking out seven and walking three.
Both starters were on early as the first hit of Sunday's game came in the top of the third.
USC starter Ryan Cook (4-3) pitched well, but suffered the loss, allowing five runs (two earned) on seven hits in 6.2 innings of work. A pair of errors by USC second baseman Hector Rabago led to Cook's undoing in the seventh inning.
The Gauchos scored the first run of the game in the bottom of the fourth inning on a bases loaded walk to designated hitter John DeAlba. After Cook loaded the bases by surrendering a base hit and two consecutive walks, he walked his third batter of the inning, forcing home the first run of the game.
The first extra-base hit didn't come until the bottom of the seventh when Gaucho third baseman Patrick Rose tripled into the left center field gap. Catcher Matt McColgan followed with an RBI sacrifice fly to left field, giving the Gauchos a 2-0 lead. Gunnar Terhune reached first on a Trojan fielding error in the following at bat, and then stole second base. With Terhune on second, Chris Fox laced an RBI single up the middle for the third UCSB run of the game. With one on and two out, Eric Oliver ripped a 1-2 offering from Cook over the right center field wall. Oliver's two-run job, his second on the year, put the Gauchos in front, 5-0.
UCSB scored their final run of the game in the bottom of the eighth. Matt McColgan's RBI single through the left side of the infield, scored DeAlba for the sixth Gaucho run of the game.
Huggins made sure the lead would last, inducing Trojan right fielder Anthony Vasquez to fly out to left to end the ballgame.
Huggins complete game marked the second complete game of the series, as sophomore Mike Ford (5-2) pitched his first complete game in Friday's opener. The Redwood City, Calif., native lowered his ERA to 3.47. Huggins' seventh win on the year ensures him the top spot on the Big West leader board in wins. Huggins improved his strikeout-to-walk ratio to 59-to-17, as batters are now hitting a lowly .226 against the senior southpaw.
Oliver led the way offensively for the Gauchos, going 2-for-3 with one run scored and a two-run home run. McColgan added a pair of RBI in a 1-for-3 effort. Fox was 2-for-4 with two runs scored and one RBI.
The Gauchos scored a remarkable 60 runs in four games this week, while limiting opponents to nine. Each Gaucho starter earned wins in the series over USC, as the starting rotation improved their combined record to an astounding 16-5. The Gauchos are hitting a combined .332 as a team and have scored a ridiculous 313 runs in 38 games played, an 8.2 average.
The Gauchos are running on all cylinders and look to have hit their stride at the perfect time with conference play on the horizon for the rest of the season.
UCSB resumes play on Tuesday, April 22 against Cal State Northridge at 1:00 p.m. at Matador Field. From there, the Gauchos head to San Luis Obispo for a three-game weekend set against the Mustangs.