Home is where you hang your hat.
Except sometimes your hat hangs you.
The UCSB baseball team hoped to recover from a recent losing binge on the road by opening Big West play with a series win. Instead, the Gauchos relapsed and lost two of three games against Cal State Northridge at Caesar Uyesaka Stadium.
“All of the games we should have won,” junior right fielder Ryan Spilborghs said. “All of the games we could have won.”
Santa Barbara (14-17, 1-2 in the Big West) was in striking distance of Northridge in the first game after junior Josh McCanne’s RBI triple. However, CSUN (20-11, 2-1) exploded for six runs in the ninth to ensure a 12-4 victory. UCSB Head Coach Bob Brontsema felt that injuries to key pitchers James Garcia, Jared Edrosolan, and James Dayley hindered the Gauchos.
“We haven’t played well,” Brontsema said. “And missing those guys hurt us. That’s a lot of quality arms and innings missing.”
The absence of strong pitching was compensated for the next day when junior lefty Sean Thompson hurled a gem, allowing four runs and 10 hits in a complete game.
“Thompson pitched extremely well,” Brontsema said. “He gave us what we needed. He pretty much carried us on his back. He was very special.”
Junior infielder Blair Havens captured the victory for Thompson with a screaming double that scored two runs in the eighth to erase a 3-2 deficit.
“That was a huge, clutch hit,” McCanne said.
Havens went two for five in the 5-4 UCSB win.
In the rubber match, UCSB freshman designated hitter Matt Wilkerson creamed two bulging home runs, but it wasn’t enough to keep Santa Barbara from the skinny end of the bat in a 15-9 reaming.
Both teams posted 16 hits, but a six-run seventh inning and a combined five home runs enabled the Matadors to capture the series over the Gauchos.
“But once again, we couldn’t stop that big inning,” Brontsema said. “We scored a lot of runs.”
The lack of depth in the bullpen rendered the Gauchos defenseless to the Northridge onslaught.
“We kept battling and then just fell apart,” McCanne said. “It compounded our mistakes.”