May 24, 2008
SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - UC Santa Barbara dropped Saturday night's shootout against UC Irvine 14-7 in game two of the three game series at Anteater Ballpark. Irvine scored three times in the bottom of the first inning, and wouldn't look back, scoring 11 more runs over the final seven frames.
UCSB dropped to 35-20 overall and 14-9 in the Big West, while UCI improved to 37-16 overall, with a 13-10 BWC record.
Freshman southpaw Mario Hollands lasted only two innings in his 14th start of the year, allowing five runs on six hits. Coming off an eight inning four-hit effort against UC Riverside last week, Hollands suffered his shortest outing of the year.
The Gauchos were first on the board, scoring a run on an Anteater fielding error in the top of the first.
It would be the only lead for the Gauchos, as Irvine roared back for three in the bottom of the first. An RBI double from Tony Asaro followed by a two-run single off the bat of Francis Larson gave UCI a 3-1 lead after one inning of play.
Hollands was lifted in the third after allowing a two-run single to Asaro. Gaucho reliever Zach Samuels came on and promptly induced a double play and a fly out to get of the jam.
After a Chris McMurray sacrifice fly in the top of the fourth plated the second Gaucho run of the game, UCI countered with another three runs over the next two innings. UCI led by six after five innings of play, 8-2.
UCSB wouldn't roll over, as the Gauchos mounted a four-run sixth inning to pull within two. With the bases loaded and only one out, Chris McMurray grounded a ball to Anteater third baseman Eric Deragisch. Deragisch's throw first was off line, allowing two Gaucho runs to cross the plate. A Jon DeAlba RBI single, followed by a sacrifice fly from Brian Gump, put the Gauchos within reach, 8-6.
Unfortunately, UCSB was unable to keep the Anteaters at bay, as UCI scored six more runs in the bottom half of the sixth. Run scoring hits from Asaro and Josh Tavelli put the Eaters up 10-6. Dillon Bell delivered the big hit of the inning, lining a two-run single into left field. After six, the Anteaters held a commanding 14-6 lead.
Bryce Stowell (7-2) pitched 5.2 innings of three-run ball to pick up his seventh win of the year.
Hollands was saddled with just his third loss of the year, falling to 7-3 in his redshirt freshman campaign. McMurray had the best day of any Gaucho going 2-for-3 with one run and one RBI. Two other Gauchos, Zuanich and Rose added two hits, respectively.
Tomorrow's season finale is undoubtedly the most important game of the year for both squads, as both UCSB and UCI are still in the hunt for a postseason bid. The winner of tomorrow's 1:00 p.m. start at Anteater field could very well continue on, while the loser might have to watch and wait.
With today's loss, UCSB can still finish second in the Big West Conference, but a first place finish is now out of reach. Ideally, Long Beach State will win tonight and tomorrow against Cal State Fullerton, to force a two-way tie for first place between those two squads.
If that scenario plays out, and UCSB wins tomorrow, Long Beach will occupy first place with a 16-8 BWC record and a tie-breaker over Fullerton. Fullerton will sit in second place with an identical 16-8 record, while UCSB would occupy sole possession of third, with a 15-9 mark.
The only thing that remains certain is that the Gauchos can greatly enhance their chances of continuing on with a win tomorrow afternoon.
In a match-up of left-handers, senior Chuck Huggins (8-2) mans the bump in the season and series finale tomorrow against UC Irvine Sunday starter Daniel Bibona (7-3).