After two days of the nothing but the sound of silence, the Gauchos were ready to unleash the fury. The end result was a Sunday dinner of roasted anteater.
The UCSB baseball team dropped the first two games of their series against UC Irvine this past weekend by scores of 4-3 and 3-2, but responded forcefully on Sunday by thrashing the Anteaters 17-6. Santa Barbara is now 15-19 overall and 2-4 in the Big West conference, heading into back-to-back series against league frontrunners Long Beach State and Cal State Fullerton.
The Irvine series got off to a rough start for the Gauchos on Friday, with the offense smacking only six hits but striking out fourteen times. Sophomore starting pitcher Matt Vasquez (4-4) took the loss despite giving up only four runs, two of them earned, and striking out five in seven innings of work. Vasquez lowered his team-best ERA to a miniscule 3.02. Junior outfielder Kevin Miller threw one scoreless inning of relief, during which he faced his fraternal twin brother Chris. Kevin won the battle of the brothers, as Chris grounded out to second.
The Gauchos offensive impotence would get worse on Saturday, as they were only able to pick up three hits in a 3-2 loss, wasting an excellent outing from junior starting pitcher Sean Thompson (2-1).
Thompson gave up just three runs on nine hits in six innings. In trademark fashion, Santa Barbara was able to use persistence to bounce back and plaster UCI on Sunday. The win put an end to the adversity at the plate for UCSB, as Santa Barbara pounded out twice as many hits and scored three times as many runs as they had in the first two games combined. Junior left fielder Blair Havens led the offensive eruption, going five for six with two RBIs. Havens also tacked on his first home run of the year. Senior starting pitcher James Garcia (2-3) picked up the win in his return from an injury. Garcia gave up six runs on eight hits in six innings, striking out eight.
In the third game, UCSB fell behind 2-0 in the first, but bounced back with four runs in the third, keyed by Haven’s two-run homer and by a Josh McCanne two-run double that scored sophomore third baseman Nate Sutton and junior right fielder Ryan Spilborghs.
The Anteaters responded with three runs in the bottom of the third inning to retake a 5-4 lead. The two clubs seesawed until the top of the sixth, when the Gauchos broke open a 6-6 tie with a four-run, two-out rally highlighted by senior center fielder Andy Campanella’s two-run triple. UCSB pulled away, adding three runs in the seventh and four in the eighth. Spilborghs capped a monster afternoon by bashing two run doubles in each of these innings. He had three hits, scored four runs, and drove in five, raising his team-leading RBI total to 42.
Despite a dominating performance on Sunday, the Gauchos dropped to sixth place in the Big West, and the offensive power they displayed on Sunday will have to continue for the team to challenge the conference’s perennial powers in the coming weeks.