If nothing else, UCSB baseball can take relief in the fact that a certain combination of three letters appears nowhere else in the rest of its schedule.
USC took advantage of the shorthanded Gauchos (19-19 overall, 1-2 in the Big West), winning 8-2 Tuesday night at Dedeaux Field in Los Angeles.
Scoring its eight runs on eight hits and no errors, USC (23-10 overall, 6-3 Pac-10) was nearly perfect in its eighth win in the past 10 games. The Gauchos committed two errors and walked three en route to the loss in their final non-conference game of the regular season.
“We just didn’t make some plays. That’s really what it came down to. They got three runs in the second inning but they didn’t really hit the ball hard,” Head Coach Bob Brontsema said. “There’s just some things that they did well, they executed, they manufactured runs, but the couple plays we didn’t make hurt us.” USC scored all the runs it needed in the second inning. After two singles junior right fielder Darin Vieira brought home junior designated hitter Baron Frost for the Trojans’ first run.
With the 1-0 USC lead, Gaucho senior starter Loren Fraser committed a balk, putting runners on first and second. After a sacrifice fly scored Frost, Vieira came home on an RBI groundout, giving the Trojans a 3-0 lead. Frost finished the day going 3-4 with a run and an RBI.
UCSB got onto the scoreboard in the fifth inning, after being no-hit through the first four by Trojans’ junior starter Jack Spradlin. Back-to-back singles put runners on first and third with no outs. Senior catcher Matt Kalafatis followed with a sacrifice bunt to bring home sophomore designated hitter Jack Pinkerton, cutting the lead to 3-1.
Senior catcher Matt Clement powered a two-run homer over the right field fence in the bottom of the fifth to put the Trojans up by four runs. Santa Barbara answered with a run in the top of the sixth but didn’t come any closer. USC put up another three runs in the eighth to close the deal.
“We can take away a lot of things from this game. They’re not necessarily all positive,” Brontsema said. “The negative things are learning things. For me, you learn more from negative things than the positive, so hopefully we learned a lot from this.” Spradlin earned his fourth win of the season, allowing two runs on four hits with five strikeouts in 5.1 innings pitched. The loss went to Fraser, his fourth, despite allowing just three runs. USC sophomore closer Paul Koss picked up his eighth save of the season with two innings of one-hit baseball.