Nearby Goleta Airport could not boast of being the origin of the most airborne objects yesterday. Instead, Cesar Uyesaka Stadium earned that title courtesy of a Gaucho home run derby.
The UCSB baseball team scored 11 runs on 12 hits for an 11-4 thrashing of visiting Cal Poly. Santa Barbara smacked three soaring home runs in a thorough spanking of the Mustangs that saw All-American James Garcia earn his first win of the season.
Down 3-1 in the bottom of the second with Garcia struggling, the Gauchos tied the game when junior Kevin Miller blasted an unidentified flying object out of the stadium.
Miller, who plays the dual role of pitcher and outfielder, clobbered his second homer of the year.
“I haven’t hit for awhile. When I pitched Sunday, I didn’t get my hacks in,” Miller said. “I came out there and tried to be aggressive.”
Miller’s rocket gave Garcia a chance to settle down and focus in on finding his rhythm.
Garcia (1-3), who pitched two games in relief over the weekend, dug in and hurled a smoldering five consecutive scoreless innings to allow UCSB to bridle the Mustangs.
“I didn’t expect to start because I pitched twice over the weekend,” Garcia said. “But I was more than happy to get the chance. It gave me the opportunity to prove I can.”
The senior right-handed pitcher went seven innings, giving up three hits and three runs in what might be the beginning of the saga of how Garcia got his groove back.
UCSB Head Coach Bob Brontsema intends to start Garcia in Santa Barbara’s next game. The Gauchos will become legitimate contenders in the Big West if Garcia can find his rhythm, the coach said.
“We need to get James going,” Brontsema said. “That was the point of putting him in the pen. He’ll go Monday against Illinois State. If he starts pitching like last year, we become a factor.”
Santa Barbara’s offense already looked like a juggernaut yesterday, scoring runs in all but one inning.
Junior right fielder Ryan Spilborghs went 2 for 3 with two RBIs, demolishing his eighth homer of the year, a solo shot in the third.
In the fourth inning, senior center fielder Andy Campanella hammered a solo home run of his own, his second of the year.
Campanella joined his fellow outfielders as the third Gaucho to hit the ball out of the field on the day.
“The long ball has been a weapon for us,” Brontsema said.
The offensive onslaught continued in the sixth, seventh, and eighth innings as the Gauchos persistently throttled Cal Poly. Freshman Matt Wilkerson went 2 for 5 with two RBIs and junior first baseman Josh McCanne chipped in with two hits as well.
Freshman Mike Sutherland came in to pitch the final two innings.
“I didn’t think we came out great, but we settled down and did a good job,” Brontsema said. “I thought we played excellent offense.”