May 23, 2008
SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - Michael Martin wasn't scheduled to start UC Santa Barbara's most important game of the season, but he sure pitched like he was. Filling in for sophomore ace Mike Ford, who was down with the flu, the senior right-hander came within one out of a complete game, propelling the Gauchos to a 6-2 defeat over No. 9 UC Irvine Friday night at Anteater Ballpark.
UCSB scored six runs over the final three frames to improve to 35-19 overall, and 14-8 in Big West play, while UC Irvine dropped to 36-16, and 12-10 in the Big West Conference.
Martin (6-3) out-dueled Irvine ace and All-American Scott Gorgen (10-3), allowing only two runs, while scattering eight hits over 8.2 innings of work. Martin's command was masterful throughout, as the Red Bluff, Calif., native struck out eight and walked only two. Martin would run into some ninth inning trouble, leaving the game with the bases loaded, but it was nothing junior reliever Jason Roenicke couldn't handle. Roenicke struck out Anteater third baseman Tyler Hoechlin on three straight pitches, sealing the Gauchos 14th Big West Conference win.
Neither team would score for the first three innings, until UC Irvine got on the board in the bottom of the fourth. With two outs and nobody on, Anteater left fielder Dillon Bell launched a solo home run over the right field wall. Bell's blast gave UC Irvine their first run of the game and a 1-0 lead after four innings of play.
The Gauchos finally got to Gorgen in the top of the seventh inning, scoring three runs on three hits. Shortstop Shane Carlson started the UCSB rally with a lead off double to left field. Playing for one run, Patrick Rose sacrificed Carlson over to second base with a perfect bunt back to the pitchers mound. Then, on an 0-2 pitch, Gunnar Terhune singled through the right side, bringing home Carlson to tie the game at 1-1. With Terhune on first, junior backstop Chris McMurray delivered the lethal blow, belting a two-run home run to deep left field. McMurray's two-run shot, his eighth of the year, gave the Gauchos a 3-1 lead heading into the bottom of the seventh.
Gorgen wouldn't come back out to pitch the eighth, giving way to reliever Crosby Slaught. With two out and Eric Oliver on first, Carlson came through again, lining an RBI triple down the right field line. Carlson's second hit of the day, and second triple on the year, gave the Gauchos a three-run lead, 4-1.
UCSB tacked on a pair of important insurance runs in the top of the ninth off Anteater reliever Kyle Necke, as Terhune led off the inning with a single to right center field. After stealing second, the sophomore scored on a base hit from Jon DeAlba. DeAlba lined a ball to left field, but Bell couldn't field the ball cleanly, allowing Terhune to glide home safely. The Gauchos would score another run in the inning courtesy of the Anteater's fourth error of the game. With DeAlba on second, Chris Fox singled to Anteater third baseman Tyler Hoechlin. Hoechlin's errant throw to first allowed DeAlba to scoot home for the Gauchos' sixth run of the game.
UC Irvine would threaten in the bottom of the ninth scoring one run on three hits, but Roenicke's bases-loaded punch out of Hoechlin put the fire out.
After not scoring a single run through six innings, UCSB's potent offense came alive to score six times over the final three frames. The Gauchos improved to 16-3 on the season when scoring six or more runs.
Martin's 8.2-inning effort was his longest of the season, and it couldn't have come at a better time for the Gauchos. The usually reliable ace, Mike Ford, was unable to make his 14th start of the season, but the Gauchos rallied behind Martin's veteran presence. The versatile right-hander has now appeared in a team-high 22 games, with 10 starts and 13 relief appearances.
McMurray led the Gauchos offensively, going 2-for-4 with one run scored and two RBI. Terhune and Carlson both added one RBI in respective 2-for-4 performances.
Tomorrow's game two carries possible postseason implications for the Gauchos, with a win ensuring a series victory.
UCSB will be watching the scoreboard to see how Cal State Fullerton and Long Beach's match-up plays out. A sweep of UCI would give UC Santa Barbara 16 conference wins and a chance to be locked in a three-way tie for first place if Long Beach State goes 2-1 against Cal State Fullerton. If a three-way tie occurs, LBSU holds the upper hand in the head-to-head competition and would receive the conference's automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.
Game two of the series is set for a 5:00 p.m. start, tomorrow, May 24 at Anteater Ballpark. Sophomore southpaw Mario Hollands (7-2) is coming off an impressive eight-inning start against UC Riverside, and will be opposed by Irvine right-hander Bryce Stowell (6-2).