A lack of execution dampened the Gauchos’ chances of winning Friday’s baseball game against Pepperdine (2-3), and rain took care of Saturday and Sunday to make for a disappointing weekend for Santa Barbara (5-4). UCSB dropped its second consecutive series opener 6-4, stranding 10 runners and striking out 11 times.
Gaucho sophomore pitcher Steve Morlock took the ball for Friday’s contest and struck out the side in the top of the first despite giving up a walk and a hit and dealing with a microscopic strike zone. Pepperdine scratched for an unearned run in the second when, with runners on first and second, Waves freshman shortstop Danny Kelly hit a high bouncer that UCSB senior third baseman Nate Sutton deflected into the foul territory behind third base for a two-base error.
The Gauchos capitalized on two passed balls by Waves freshman catcher Chad Tracy, using one to set up sophomore first baseman Bill Rowe’s RBI groundout and the other to plate junior second baseman Chris Malec when the ball rolled back to the screen.
Morlock returned the favor in the top of the fourth inning, uncorking a wild pitch with Pepperdine designated hitter sophomore Michael Beattie on third base to tie the score 2-2. The Gauchos had a chance to break the game open in the bottom of the fifth, loading the bases with one out and the heart of the lineup due to bat. Waves starting pitcher senior Jacob Barrack buckled down and struck out Malec and Rowe in succession, killing the Gaucho rally and ending his five-inning stint on a high note.
Pepperdine took a lead it never relinquished in the sixth inning when Waves sophomore second baseman David Uribes drove in pinch runner freshman Justin Sandberg and spelled the end of Morlock’s day. Senior lefty Ivan Ramirez came in and struck the next hitter out, ending the threat, but he and junior hurler Alex McRobbie gave up a run each in the seventh inning to allow the Waves’ lead to swell to three runs.
Waves junior third baseman Patrick Rooney launched a skyscraper to left field that carried out of the park, just inches over the outstretched glove of UCSB junior left fielder Matt Stevens, for his second homer of the year and a 6-2 Pepperdine lead. Santa Barbara closed the gap with two runs in its half of the eighth, scoring on a wild pitch by Pepperdine sophomore pitcher Paul Coleman and an RBI single by freshman shortstop Chris Valaika.
UCSB made one final stab in the bottom of the ninth, putting runners on the corners with nobody out. Malec popped out, and Rowe and junior catcher Matt Kalafatis went down on strikes to close out the game. The situation in the ninth inning was the most glaring of the times the Gauchos left men on base, but UCSB’s inability to get the first hitter aboard in six of nine innings had as much to do with the loss as stranding runners.
Morlock took the loss, and falls to 1-2 on the season, and senior designated hitter Greg Powers collected four of his team’s nine hits without scoring a run.
The two teams gathered under the cover of the dugouts at Eddy D. Field Stadium in Malibu on Saturday, waiting until an hour after the game’s scheduled start to call it on account of rain. The postponed game will take place at 2 this afternoon in Malibu, while Sunday’s game in Santa Barbara was canceled and will be moved to a later date.