With cheers of “back to back” ringing in their ears, the 2004 Gauchos fell to a rowdy squad of UCSB baseball graduates for the second time in a row in this year’s annual Alumni Game on Saturday. The alumni used eight different pitchers and took advantage of the relaxed atmosphere to storm from behind with two runs in the eighth inning to take the game 4-3.
Redshirt freshman Andy Graham took the mound for the Gauchos and tossed five innings, yielding two earned runs, the first coming in the second inning on two walks and 2003 grad Josh Fulton’s sharp single to right field.
Santa Barbara struck for its first run in the third inning when senior third baseman Nate Sutton led off and looped a double down the left-field line. After a ground ball to the right side moved Sutton to third, junior second baseman Chris Malec hit a hard one-hopper to alumnus first baseman Tyler Von Schell. Von Schell had Sutton canned easily at the plate, but his throw was five feet over the catcher’s head and Sutton tied the game.
Sophomore left fielder Matt Emerick rapped a one-out single through the pitcher’s box in the bottom of the fourth, and junior right fielder C.J. Cook slammed a triple off recent grad Sean Thompson to plate Emerick and build a 2-1 lead. The old-timers answered right back in the top of the fifth when Skip Schumaker launched a Texas leaguer into short right field that would have scored two if not for Cook’s relay to the plate through Malec to cut down Fulton.
Santa Barbara took the lead again in the sixth inning, when junior catcher Matt Kalafatis whacked an eyebrow-high pitch into center field to score junior infielder David Figoni. Redshirt freshman Brian Tracy pitched two scoreless innings, fanning four, and senior transfer Aaron Jones got his first call to shut the door for UCSB in the eighth inning. Jones walked Fulton on eight pitches and promptly picked him off trying to steal second. Fulton refused to leave first base, claiming that he was safe, and Head Coach Bob Brontsema overturned sophomore pitcher and acting base umpire Michael Martin’s call. Fulton would steal second base and set Schumaker up for his second RBI single of the afternoon. Former Gaucho catcher Chad Ziemendorf lined a 2-2 pitch from Jones into left field for a game-winning single, and the alumni struck out the side in the bottom of the eighth to seal the win.
Fulton, Thompson, Ziemendorf, Nic Rodriguez, Matt Vasquez and Blair Havens represented perfect attendance for the 2003 graduates.
The current Gauchos will travel to San Diego State on Feb. 6 for a season-opening three-game series against the Aztecs.