Ironically, it took some lethal pitching from a man named Posthumus to bring the UCSB baseball team back from the dead.
After a frustrating 11-7 loss against No. 23 USC on Wednesday, the Gauchos revived themselves and buried their five-game losing streak by euthanizing Westmont College 14-3 in Caesar Uyesaka Stadium on Thursday.
UCSB (17-25 overall) was resurrected thanks to a heart-stopping pitching performance by freshman Eric Posthumus and an offensive killing executed by some of his fellow freshman assassins.
“I started off a little sketchy – it took me longer than I wanted to settle down,” Posthumus said. “I just tried to battle through.”
Posthumus (4-1) gave up just one earned run and one walk while striking out two in six strangling innings.
As deadly as Posthumus was on the mound, freshmen Matt Wilkerson, Chris Malec, Matt Stevens and C.J. Cook proved even more cutthroat at the plate, going a combined 9-15 with three home runs and 9 RBI.
Wilkerson’s two solo homers tied Santa Barbara’s freshman record of 13.
“[Wilkerson] has that kind of power,” UCSB Head Coach Bob Brontsema said. “When he starts pulling the ball with more consistency, he’ll be hitting for average, too. Then he’ll be a real dangerous hitter.”
Wilkerson also slammed a three-run shot in the Gauchos’ loss to the Trojans, the fifth straight loss for sophomore Matt Vasquez. Coming off a brilliant 10-inning performance against Fullerton, Vasquez suffered control problems, giving up an uncharacteristic six walks and seven runs in just four innings of work.
“He didn’t pitch well, which is too bad since we scored a lot of runs,” Brontsema said.
Senior infielder Dave Licht, junior infielder Blair Havens and junior outfielder Ryan Spilborghs each went 2-4 with one RBI in the haunting loss.
“We were pretty depressed after last night,” Malec said. “It was a game we should have won.”
Malec went 2-5 with a home run, three RBI and several dazzling defensive plays the next day when the Gauchos went for blood against the Warriors.
“Malec has a good glove on him. He’s a real solid player,” Brontsema said. “He’s not a freshman anymore.”
Another freshman playing like a veteran was designated hitter Stevens, who went 3-4 with three RBI. Along with freshman hurler Alex McRobbie, who struck out the side in the eighth, the Gauchos seem to have acquired a grip of strong players who will commit plenty of foul play on future opponents.
“We’ll be a strong team next year,” Malec said.
Now the Gauchos need to resuscitate their 2002 season.