Runs come in flurries for the UCSB baseball team’s improving offense. Thanks to some outstanding pitching, so do the wins.
The Gauchos clinched a three-game series in Santa Clara this past weekend, rallying behind back-to-back dominating performances from starting pitchers junior James Dayley and sophomore Matt Vasquez. Coupled with a scorching offense, Santa Barbara won the last two games to seize the series.
UCSB (4-3) retaliated to a loss on Friday by swinging its way to a 10-run victory on Saturday, setting the stage for a dramatic tiebreaker. Vasquez blanked the Santa Clara offense in the rubber match. The Gauchos have won three of their last four and have shown the resiliency that Head Coach Bob Brontsema feels will make this series win the first of many for Santa Barbara.
“We saw both sides of the Gauchos this weekend,” Brontsema said. “It’s a really good sign for us to rebound the way we did, especially on the road with this young team.”
UCSB could have easily rolled over last weekend when ace pitcher senior James Garcia was knocked out of Friday’s game after surrendering five earned runs in just 1.2 innings.
The Gauchos remained undaunted. Junior right fielder Ryan Spilborghs tripled in the top of the fourth to ignite a UCSB comeback that culminated in the seventh when Santa Barbara cut a 9-0 deficit to 9-6 on a Nic Rodriguez RBI single. Although the Gauchos eventually fell 12-6, they demonstrated a refuse-to-lose mentality that will keep them in any game.
“When we fought back, it helped our confidence,” Brontsema said. “That we didn’t quit when we were down was a bright spot in itself.”
UCSB’s newfound aplomb meant vengeance would be exacted the next day when the Gauchos bucked the Broncos with an offensive onslaught and a masterful four-hit outing from right hander Dayley. Dayley gave up just one earned run while freshman Chris Malec belted his first collegiate homer, capping a 3-5 effort with six RBIs.
Hitting proved contagious for fellow Gaucho hitters such as junior left fielder Kevin Miller, who went a perfect 4-4 with two RBIs as UCSB amassed 16 hits in a 12-2 rout.
UCSB’s win led to a pitching showdown in which Vasquez (1-1) returned to All-American form, giving up just four hits and no earned runs in eight innings of work during what may have been the finest outing of his young career.
“I felt I had a lot of confidence and I knew my offense would come through,” Vasquez said.
The offense arrived when Spilborghs scored on a throwing error in the sixth to break a 0-0 tie. The Gauchos tacked on five more runs to secure the memorable series win.
Junior infielder Josh McCanne, who led UCSB with eight hits this weekend, credited his pitchers for the triumph.
“Our pitching was awesome,” McCanne said. “This is a huge momentum-builder.”