May 17, 2008
SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - Mario Hollands pitched eight solid innings, and Mike Zuanich went a perfect 4-for-4, as UC Santa Barbara (33-19, 12-8) beat UC Riverside (19-30, 12-8) 10-4 Saturday afternoon at Caesar Uyesaka Stadium. Hollands struck out nine while improving his record to 7-2 in his freshman campaign, and Zuanich smashed his Big West-leading 14th home run in the bottom of the first inning.
UCSB secured a series victory with Saturday's win, moving into a virtual tie with Riverside at 12-8 in Big West play. With only four games left in the regular season, as many as five Big West squads are still jockeying for postseason position.
Riverside's bats were hot from the start, as lead off hitter Carl Uhl and two-hole hitter Joey Gonzales started the top of the first with back-to-back singles. Then, with runners on the corners, Drew Garcia hit a ball into the right center field gap. Gaucho right fielder Brian Gump got on his horse and made a spectacular catch on the run to rob Garcia of an extra base hit. Garcia's sacrifice fly, however, would score Uhl from third to put the Highlanders up, 1-0.
UCSB clawed back in the bottom half of the first with two runs. With Chris Fox on first base after an infield base hit, Mike Zuanich stepped to the plate. A day after hitting his 13th home run, Zuanich crushed his Big West-leading 14th homer high over the right center field wall. The clean up hitter's two-run tater gave the Gauchos a 2-1 lead after one inning of play.
Zuanich reared his head again in the bottom of the third inning, dumping an RBI single into shallow right field. With Gump running from second on the 0-2 pitch, Zuanich calmly went the opposite way, driving in his third run of the game.
The Highlanders struck back in the top of fourth inning on a two-run home run from clean up hitter Aaron Wible. Wible's jack down the left field line tied the game at 3-3 after four and a half. It would be Holland's only mistake, as the southpaw settled down the rest of the way.
UCSB quickly regained the lead plating a single run in the bottom of the fourth. Second baseman Gunnar Terhune led off the inning with a base hit through the left side of the infield, advanced to second on a wild pitch, and then to third on McMurray's ground out to second. Designated hitter Jon DeAlba singled down the right field line in the ensuing at-bat, allowing Terhune to glide home safely. Then, with runners on second and third and two outs, Eric Oliver delivered a huge two-run single into right center field. Shortstop Shane Carlson followed the first baseman's formula, also delivering a two-run single into right center. Four two-out runs for the Gauchos gave the Blue and Gold an 8-3 lead.
Staked to a five run lead, the only other run Holland's would allow was Ryan Goetz's sacrifice fly in the top of the sixth.
The Gauchos scored again in the bottom of the sixth on Oliver's infield RBI single, which plated Gump. At the end of six, UCSB held a 9-4 advantage.
Hollands allowed two base runners in the top of the eighth, but with his 130th pitch of the game, induced Tony Nix to fly out to center field. Four of the last six outs the El Cerrito, Calif., native got were via looking strike outs.
Already up six, DeAlba tacked on another insurance run with a solo shot to left field in the bottom of the eighth. DeAlba's second hit was also his second run scored and second RBI on the day.
Clayton Edwards came on in relief of Hollands, promptly retiring the Highlander's to secure the important series win for the Gauchos.
Zuanich led the way, going 4-for-4 with two runs scored and three RBI. Oliver added three RBI with a 2-for-5 performance. Lead off hitter Brian Gump scored three times, while stealing his 24th base on the year. Carlson upped his season average to .345 with a 2-for-4, two-RBI effort.
Pending the results of Long Beach State and Cal Poly's game later tonight, UCSB could sit in a tie for second place with both LBSU and UC Riverside if the Dirtbags win.
UCSB plays their final home game of the season tomorrow, May 18 at 1:00 p.m. as the Gauchos bid farewell to seven departing seniors. Senior day ceremonies will begin at approximately 12:40 p.m., as Athletic Director Gary Cunningham is set to throw out the ceremonial first pitch.
Senior Chuck Huggins (8-2) takes on Highlander starter Paul Bargas (1-4).