May 21, 2006
SANTA BARBARA, Calif. -
UCSB (25-26, 8-10) pummeled UC Davis pitching for twenty runs on twenty-three hits, including an eleven-run sixth inning, en route to a 20-5 victory over the Aggies on Sunday in game-three of a three-game non-conference series at Caesar Uyesaka Stadium.
Junior Chris Valaika led all performers with a three-for-five day at the plate, including two home runs, a grand slam, three runs scored and seven RBI. For Valaika, the two homers give him a team-high ten on the season. The hits also extend Valaika's hitting streak to ten games. Senior Matt Emerick also had a stellar day at the plate in his last home baseball game as a Gaucho. The local product out of Santa Barbara, Calif. finished three-for-five with a double, a triple, two runs scored and two RBI. The triple was Emerick's fourth on the year and his ninth in his career, placing him tenth on UCSB's career triples list. Junior Mario Lewis rounded out the three-hit performers for the Gauchos, batting three-for-four with a double, two runs scored and two RBI. Senior Chris Webber finished one-for-two, crushing a ball over the wall in left field for his first home run as a Gaucho. The hottest hitter of all as of late, junior Robbie Blauer, continued his torrid pace, extending his hit streak to ten games with a two-for-three day and two runs scored. Over the streak, the Huntington Beach, Calif. native is batting an impressive .525 (21-40).
Although it was overshadowed by the tremendous offensive output by the Gauchos, UCSB starter Brian Tracy dealt a gem on Sunday. The Claremont, Calif. native tossed seven innings, surrendering two runs on five hits and one walk while striking out a batter. After giving up a run in the third, Tracy settled down to shut out the Aggies until he gave up a leadoff homerun to Michael Hernandez in the seventh, just moments after the Gauchos had posted eleven runs in the bottom of the sixth. Tracy gave way to Matt Wade to start the eighth and Wade lasted one inning, giving up three runs on four hits and a walk while striking out a batter. Senior Andrew Schoneberger finished the game on the hill for the Gauchos, retiring the side in order in the ninth.
Aggie starter Bryan Evans lasted three and two-thirds innings, giving up six runs (five earned) on ten hits and a walk while striking out five to earn the loss. The Davis bullpen, consisting of five pitchers on Sunday, took over with two out in the fourth, combining to pitch the final four and a third innings, surrendering fourteen runs (twelve earned) on thirteen hits and five walks while striking out two batters. Catcher Tyler LaTorre led the Aggies offensively, batting two-for-four with a home run, a run scored and two RBI.
Neither team managed to score in the first, but the Gaucho sticks came alive in the second and stayed hot all day. Blauer led off the second with a single back up the middle before Emerick tripled him home on the ensuing play. Two batters later, junior Brian Lee picked up an RBI with a single to left field to plate Emerick and give UCSB the early 2-0 advantage.
UC Davis answered back quickly with one run in the top of the third. A leadoff single by Evan Hudson got the ball rolling before a sacrifice bunt by Matt Dempsey moved Hudson to second with one out. On the ensuing play, Daniel Descalso singled into the right centerfield gap to plate the first Aggie run of the game.
UCSB refused to give up any momentum, tallying a run of its own in the bottom half of the inning. Valaika led off with a single to centerfield before moving to second on a passed ball. Two batters later, Emerick cashed in again, this time with a double into left centerfield to plate Valaika.
The Gauchos would post three more runs in the bottom of the fourth. With one out, freshman Chris McMurray singled to left field to start the rally. A single by sophomore Alden Carrithers left runners at the corners with one out. Two batters later, Valaika belted his first homer of the day, a three-run shot over the right centerfield wall to give UCSB the 6-1 lead after four innings.
Two more Gaucho runs would cross in the bottom of the fifth to make the score 8-1 in favor of the home team on Senior Day. With one man out, Lee started things off with a bunt single. Lewis followed with an RBI double to left centerfield to plate the first Gaucho run of the inning. After a groundout moved Lewis to third, Carrithers hit a hard-hit ball right back up the middle, but Dempsey was playing it perfectly. Unfortunately for the Aggies, despite the shortstop's perfect shift, he booted the ball and Lewis scampered home.
UCSB broke the game wide open with eleven runs on seven hits in the bottom of the sixth. The Gauchos batted eleven batters before UC Davis recorded an out in the inning. After six, UCSB led the Aggies by a score of 19-1. Leadoff walks to Blauer and Emerick were bad omens of what was to come for UC Davis. On the ensuing play, Carlson singled to load the bases with nobody out. On the next play, Lee was hit by a pitch to plate the first of the eleven runs in the inning. A Lewis base hit off the arm of new pitcher Brent Nichols followed before back-to-back walks to McMurray and Carrithers pushed in the next two runs of the inning. Freshman Brian Gump followed with an RBI single to left field to plate Lewis and leave the bases loaded for Valaika. Valaika took advantage of the opportunity in a big way, annihilating a fastball for a grand slam over the left field wall. After a pitching change, Webber pinch hit for Blauer and made it back-to-back shots with a homer of his own over the wall in left. Finally, after ten Gaucho batters had hit and scored in the inning, Emerick popped out foul to third base for the first out. The second out quickly followed before a walk to senior Josh LaGrotta allowed another Gaucho runner to reach base. A double by freshman Austin Hogans put runners at second and third before a single by pinch hitter Matt Anderson plated the eleventh and final run of the inning for the Gauchos.
UC Davis got one run back on the first pitch of the seventh. After a long hiatus from the rubber, Tracy saw his first pitch in the inning sail over the wall in left courtesy of Hernandez. For Hernandez, the homer extended his hit streak to seventeen games.
Santa Barbara made it six straight innings with at least one run scored when it posted a lone run in the seventh. Pinch hitter Clayton Shank led off with a double down the right field line. Two batters later, Webber reached on an error by first baseman Lukas Kirby and runners were left at first and second. On the ensuing play, Emerick connected for his third hit of the day, a single into left field to load the bases. Senior A.J. Knox followed with a sacrifice fly to centerfield to plate the twentieth Gaucho run on the day.
The Aggies would not go out quietly, racking up three runs in the top of the eighth to run the score to its final of 20-5. With Wade on the hill for the Gauchos, Michael Jacobellis doubled to start the inning. After a wild pitch moved Jacobellis to third, LaTorre connected for his third home run of the season to plate the third and fourth Aggie runs on the day. Two batters later, Aaron Hanke connected for a long ball of his own, clearing the fence down the left field line for his third homer of the year.
UCSB will conclude the regular season when it visits Cal Poly for a three-game conference series starting on Friday at 6 p.m.