Coming off a disappointing doubleheader at Sacramento State last weekend, the UCSB baseball team found themselves Tuesday on the wrong end of a 12-4 rout courtesy of a scrappy Loyola Marymount squad.
The Lions actually trailed 4-0 before rattling off 12 unanswered runs in the confines of Caesar Uyesaka Stadium. Head Coach Bob Brontsema pulled red-hot Gaucho starter junior Greg Davis after three hitless innings to be replaced by a bullpen that proceeded to surrender 12 runs.
“I thought [Davis] was outstanding today,” said Brontsema. “He threw multiple pitches for quality strikes, and put himself at the head of the bullpen.”
A win looked to be in the cards for Santa Barbara (12-11) after the offense jumped on Lions starter sophomore Martin Viramontes for three runs. Senior center fielder Gunnar Terhune got the UCSB bats going with a leadoff single past short, then stole third after being bunted over to second. The center fielder scored on a single to center by junior infielder Beck Wheeler just one at-bat later. Wheeler himself would score along with junior outfielder Mark Haddow on two consecutive base hits by senior shortstop Matt Valaika and junior first baseman Trevor Whyte. Still up 3-0 after two and a half, the Gauchos scratched across one more in the bottom of the third when Valaika, as part of his 3-4 day, earned his second RBI in a bases-loaded situation with a single past the second baseman.
Then, up 4-0 in the top of the fourth, the momentum suddenly shifted after Davis was not allowed to continue his best start of the season. LMU (15-12) sparked its offense with a sacrifice to third, which scored sophomore outfielder Ryan Hawthorne from third, cutting short junior reliever Sam Phippen’s career debut on the mound. Phippen, a former member of the UCSB men’s basketball team, gave up two earned runs on one hit and a walk. Junior lefthander Connor Whalen finished out the inning, giving up two more hits but no more runs.
“We started hitting people and walking people, and we didn’t take advantage of some opportunities for more early,” Brontsema said. “We could have had a lot more runs, but we let them back into the game, and our bullpen just didn’t throw strikes.”
After the home team laid a goose egg in the bottom of the fourth, LMU finished what they started the previous inning, lighting up relievers Matt Brady and Mike Ford for a combined nine runs on six hits. UCSB never came close to another run, which amounted to its losing streak being stretched to three games.
The Gauchos leave sunny Santa Barbara this weekend to open Big West Play against central-coast rival Cal Poly. UCSB returns home April 13 to host Pepperdine.