All it took was one swing of the bat to bring the UCSB baseball team’s five-game winning streak to a screeching halt.
A screaming three-run homerun to left field started a five-run Cal Poly third inning, giving the Mustangs a lead it would never relinquish en route to a 9-4 win in San Luis Obispo Monday night.
In their final game before beginning the Big West season next weekend, the Gauchos (14-12) stranded 13 runners on base, losing their seventh road game of the year.
“We were not productive when we needed to be. Every other time we seemed to hit the ball well,” Head Coach Bob Brontsema said. “We did not make productive outs when we needed to today.”
Santa Barbara got on the board first, scoring one run in the top of the second inning. After junior first baseman Bill Rowe reached on an error, freshman second baseman Alden Carrithers drove in Rowe to give the Gauchos a 1-0 advantage.
UCSB remained in the lead until sophomore starter Brian Tracy got into trouble in the bottom of the third. After putting two runners on, Cal Poly sophomore third baseman Josh Lansford blasted a three-run shot over the left field wall.
“First of all, it was a strike,” Brontsema said. “[Tracy] just threw a fastball on the inner half and it was a good pitch to hit.”
A two-run double from junior right fielder Matt Cooper completed the Mustangs’ five-run third. Tracy eventually picked up the loss, his third of the season.
The Gauchos scored another run to cut the deficit to three in the fourth. Seniors shortstop Chris Malec and right fielder Matt Wilkerson led off the fifth inning with back-to-back singles. Freshman designated hitter Matt Aidem then came up with an RBI double to drive in Malec.
With two on and no outs, Cal Poly sophomore starter Bud Norris sat down the next three batters in order to end the inning and the threat. Norris finished the game with the win, allowing two earned runs on seven hits in five innings.
The Santa Barbara bullpen came in to relieve Tracy in the fifth, starting with senior right hander Loren Fraser. The Mustangs added another run in the sixth off of Fraser. Lansford picked up freshman pinch hitter Greg Swertfager on a sacrifice fly, giving Cal Poly a 6-3 lead. Lansford led the Mustangs in the win, going 2-5 with a run and four RBIs.
Gaucho reliever Nate Holguin allowed the game to spiral out of control when he entered in the eighth with one out. Holguin hit a batter and walked two before giving up back-to-back singles, which brought around three more Cal Poly runs. Santa Barbara was able to add one more run in the ninth.
“Hopefully this loss makes us a little hungrier,” Brontsema said. “I think we should look at it as kind of a snub to tell us we have to step up. We can’t cruise. We have to give effort everyday.”
UCSB allowed seven of the eight Mustang batters who reached on walks or were hit by a pitch to score. Cal Poly senior reliever Dennis LeDuc earned his first save of the season allowing one hit in .2 innings of work.