For the second time in a month, the UCSB baseball team made quick work of the Warriors of Montecito with Wednesday’s 9-5 victory at Caesar Uyesaka Stadium.
However, the Gauchos (17-13), who at one point led 9-0, almost let the game get away from them once Westmont’s bats awoke in the sixth inning.
“Basically in one inning we just were not very good whatsoever,” UCSB Head Coach Bob Brontsema said. “For me, it ruined what was a pretty good day. We didn’t do anything from the bottom of the fifth inning on.”
In the 100th meeting between the two teams, the Gauchos cruised through the first five and a half innings, scoring in every inning except the second. Freshman center fielder Matt Emerick jump-started the UCSB offense with what may have been the best performance of his collegiate career. He finished three for four at the plate with three RBI and a run scored.
Senior first baseman Josh McCanne, in only his 14th game of the season, contributed with an RBI single in the first and a two-run home run to left field in the third. McCanne is playing in only his third game since missing 15 games due to a hamstring injury.
“I feel great,” McCanne said. “I’m not as quick, probably, but other than that I feel fine hitting, and I don’t feel like I really lost too much being out except for playing time. But I am definitely excited to be back out there. I’ve been looking forward to it for a long time.”
Junior right-hander Rich Sorenson started on the hill for the Gauchos and tossed three effective shutout innings. Sorenson allowed just one hit while striking out three and walking none against a Westmont squad that lost to the Gauchos 18-3 on March 5.
“Obviously we’re a better team, but regardless of your opponent, you’ve still got to make your pitches,” Sorenson said. “I didn’t want to take anyone for granted. No matter if it’s Westmont or Fullerton, you’ve still got to hit your spots, and that’s all I tried to do and it worked out pretty well today.”
Sorenson and freshman right-hander Justin Segal combined to hold the Warriors (6-22) scoreless through the fifth, but in the sixth the bullpen faltered and the offense puttered to a virtual standstill.
Sophomore southpaw Mike Sutherland entered in the sixth with a nine-run lead, but quickly gave up five runs on eight hits in his two innings of work. All the damage was done in the top of the sixth, when Westmont sent all nine batters to the plate and smashed six hits including senior catcher Andrew Bowman’s three-run homerun. Sutherland escaped trouble in the seventh without allowing a run.
Right-handers sophomore Alex McRobbie and junior Jared Edrosolan combined to pitch the final two innings and held the Warriors to just one hit. Edrosolan retired the side in order in the ninth.
The Gaucho hitters only collected one hit in the game’s final three innings, but the early offensive fireworks were enough to buoy UCSB to victory. Junior catcher Chad Ziemendorf and sophomore second baseman Chris Malec each scored two runs and senior designated hitter Nic Rodriguez pounded out two hits before the Gauchos’ offense hit the wall.
“I’m assuming that they just felt that nine runs was enough,” Brontsema said. “And it was, but I just felt this was a game where we could have done more damage.”
With Friday’s conference opener on the horizon, UCSB can hardly afford to relax.