April 21, 2000
Santa Barbara, Calif. -
In Thursday's 12-6 win over 16th-ranked Long Beach State, the UC Santa Barbara baseball team had plenty of breathing room. In fact, the Gauchos led 6-4 entering the bottom of the eighth inning, piled up six runs in that frame and never looked back.
Friday's win over the 49ers was not as comfortable as the first one, but it was easily as satisfying.
In game two of a three game series, the Gauchos scored a single run in the bottom of the eighth and on the strength of a bang-bang play that went their way and a sparkling leaping catch by center fielder R.J. Smith, UCSB held on to defeat Long Beach for the second straight game, 8-7.
The game was a see-saw affair from the word go. After the teams went scoreless entering the bottom half of the second inning, the up-and-down stuff began as the Gauchos got on the board first on a two-out home run by designated hitter Tyler Von Schell.
Long Beach responded in their half of the third inning. Shortstop Bobby Crosby, who finished with four hits on the day, was safe on a bunt single to start things. Crosby went to second on a ground ball out. With one out, left fielder Jeff Jones grounded a ball up the middle. UCSB shortstop Jeff Bannon made a spectacular diving stab of the ball and with no chance to get Jones, he attempted to catch Crosby rounding third base. His throw, however, sailed over third baseman Dave Molidor's head and into the Gaucho dugout, allowing Crosby to score and, based on a decision by the umpires, allowing Jones to advance to third base on the overthrow. Jones then score on a groundout by right fielder Chuck Lopez, giving the 49ers a 2-1 lead entering the bottom of the third.
In the bottom the third, the Gauchos battled back. With one out, right fielder Andy Campanella lined a single to center field. Left fielder Jeff Carter then bunted for a base hit, advancing Campanella to second base. After a fly out by first baseman Mike Kolbach, second sacker Chad Peshke drilled a single to center field, scoring Campanella to knot the score at one apiece.
After starting pitcher Jeremy Sugarman held Long Beach scoreless in the fourth, the Gauchos took the lead in the bottom half of that inning. Bannon opened with a double down the left field line. Von Schell then singled to left to score Bannon and give Santa Barbara a short-lived 3-2 lead.
Long Beach State quickly tied the score in the top of the fifth on a home run by Crosby. First baseman Jeremy Reed then singled to center field and, after a fly ball out by Jones, stole second base. Following a pop out by Lopez, third baseman Abel Orozco reached first on an error by Bannon, scoring Reed to tie the score at three. Orozco advanced to second on the throw to the plate. Catcher Bryan Kennedy then lined a single to left, scoring Orozco. Designated hitter Joe Graham singled singled to right, with Kennedy advancing to second. Kennedy scored the 49ers' fifth run when center fielder Robert Womack singled to center, advancing Graham to second. At that point, the Gauchos relieved hard-luck starter Jeremy Sugarman with senior lefty Joe Isaacson. On Isaacson's third pitch, Graham and Womack advanced on a passed ball, putting runners at second and third with one out. Isaacson then uncorked a wild pitch, scoring Graham and moving Womack to third. Second baseman ended the inning with a groudout to third baseman Dave Molidor, but the damage was done. Long Beach State took a commanding 7-3 lead.
The 7-3 49er lead held up...for all of about ten minutes.
Carter walked to lead things off for UCSB in the fifth inning. Kolbach then grounded a shot to the third baseman Orozco, who couldn't handle it. Orozco was charged with an error and the Gauchos had runners at first and second. The runners advanced one base on a groundout by Peshke. Carter then scored and Kolbach moved to third on a wild pitch by starting hurler Matt Paz. Third baseman Dave Molidor walked to put runners at first and third with one out. Bannon then hit a deep fly ball to left field, scoring Kolbach and narrowing the margin to 7-5. Von Schell, who belted a solo home run in the second inning, then came up and drove a Paz pitch over the right field fence for a two-run home run, tying the score at 7-7.
The score remained 7-7 until the bottom of the eighth inning, but not without some dramatics.
In the top of the eighth inning, with one out, Crosby collected his fourth hit of the game for Long Beach State, a line-drive double down the line in left field. After pinch hitter Ryan Clark struck out, UCSB called on right handed reliever Peter Dyball. After stringing the count to three balls and two strikes, Dyball got Jones to strike out swinging and preserve the 7-7 score entering the bottom of the eighth.
Bannon opened the bottom of the eighth with a single to left and he advanced to second on a wild pitch by reliever Bob Cramer. After a strike out by Von Schell, catcher Donovan Warrecker singled to left-center and Bannon scored, sliding and knocking the ball away from the Long Beach catcher Kennedy on the play. The score by Bannon gave the Gauchos a narrow 8-7 lead and they were unable to add to it as Smith and Campanella each flied out to end the inning.
Santa Barbara called on redshirt freshman Jim Bullard to pitch the ninth inning and it was about as eventful a one-two-three ninth as you are going to see.
Lopez led the inning off with a bunt that was handled by Peshke at second base. Instead of throwing to the first baseman, Peshke tried to underhand the ball to Kolbach for the out. Lopez was called out on a bang-bang play. 49er head coach Dave Snow argued the decision, but to no avail. With out one, Orozco slugged a Bullard offering to dead center field. UCSB's center fielder Smith steamed back and for the second straight game, he made a fully-extended, diving catch on the track, saving a potential double or triple resulting in the second out of the inning. The final batter, pinch hitter Casey Grzecka then lofted a more civil fly ball to Smith who put it away to give UCSB its second straight win in the three game Big West series with league-leading Long Beach State, 8-7.
Offensively, UCSB was paced by Von Schell who finished the game at 3-for-4 with a pair of home runs, four RBI and two runs scored. Carter, Peshke and Bannon each contributed a pair of hits and three other Gauchos had one base hit. On the mound, Sugarman was somewhat victimized, finishing with 4.2 innings pitched and allowing only a pair of earned runs. Isaacson, who put the fire out in the fifth, went three full innings, allowing only two hits and no runs while striking out four. Dyball had the key strikeout and Bullard pitched a scoreless, although harrowing ninth, for his fourth save of the season.
With the victory, the Gauchos improve to 20-18 overall and 10-7 in Big West play. The 49ers drop to 25-15 overall and 13-5 in league. The teams meet in the series finale on Saturday at 1:00 p.m.