April 5, 2007

UCSB is Stymied in Big West Opener at UC Riverside, 9-0

April 5, 2007

RIVERSIDE, Calif. - UC Santa Barbara opened Big West Conference play on Thursday night with a 9-0 loss against UC Riverside at the Riverside Sports Complex. The Gauchos dropped to 11-17 and 0-1 in league play. The Highlanders improve to 19-11 overall and 1-0 in Big West games.

Junior right hander James Simmons (7-1) carried a perfect game into the fifth and departed after eight innings, conceding two hits. He struck out 10, nine looking, and walked none, throwing just 95 pitches, 63 for strikes.

Every Riverside starter reached base as the Highlanders smacked 13 hits on the evening. Junior lefty Aaron Wible led the way at 3-for-4, smashing a pair of solo home runs and driving in three runs. Sophomore center fielder Carl Uhl reached base four times on two hits and two walks with a pair of RBI. Senior third baseman Kyle Barratt and junior catcher Jeff Dunbar each added two hits and an RBI.

UCR jumped on top with four runs in the second inning when Wible opened the inning with a towering home run to center field. Two batters later, junior second baseman Ben Price walked and Barratt followed with a single to right. Dunbar hit the first pitch he saw from Gaucho pitcher Brian Tracy into the right-center field gap for a run-scoring double that made it 2-0. The Highlanders then took advantage of some aggressive baserunning to double their lead. Uhl swung at the first pitch, blooping a ball into center field. Rounding first and trying for second, Uhl got himself caught in a rundown. Barratt moved to third on the hit and broke for home during the rundown, knocking the ball out of UCSB catcher Chris McMurray's hand for the third run. With Uhl at first and Dunbar at third, Tracy wheeled to first, getting Uhl picked off but Dunbar drew a throw as he scampered home for the fourth run.

The Highlanders tacked on another run in the third on Price's sacrifice fly. In the meantime, Simmons was cruising, retiring the first 12 batters, half via strikeout. His perfecto was broken up on the first pitch of the fifth when junior left fielder Mike Zuanich flared a single over Price's head for the Gauchos first hit of the game. Two batters later, Brian Gump sent a single to left for runners on first and second but Simmons caught Patrick Rose looking on a 3-2 pitch to end the threat. Simmons went on to get nine of the next 10 batters.

UCR continued to add to its lead, loading the bases with one out in the fifth and scoring when Tracy walked Uhl to force in a run. He bounced back by striking out Gonzales to leave the bases juiced but that was the end of the day for Tracy (1-2), who lasted five innings, allowing six runs on eight hits. He struck out four, walked six, and hit two.

The Highlanders pushed across two more runs in the sixth on a bases loaded infield single by Wible and a sacrifice fly by Barratt. Wible added his second home run leading off the eighth.

The two-homer night was the first of Wible's career, doubling his season total to four. He is the first Highlander to go yard twice in the same game since Matt Cunningham did so at Cal Poly on May 21, 2005.

The teams square off again Friday at 3 p.m. before closing out the series Saturday at 1 p.m.

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