With the dismal state of things on the UCSB baseball team, Goodwin Field was not the ideal place to turn things around. #2 Fullerton took advantage of the Gauchos with a weekend sweep, earning sole possession of first place in the Big West Conference.
The Titans (33-11 overall, 11-1 in the Big West) used their bats and superior pitching to silence Santa Barbara. With a 9-1 win Friday, a 10-5 win Saturday and a 16-2 win Sunday, Fullerton outscored the Gauchos by a combined 27 runs.
“A lot of it was Fullerton,” Head Coach Bob Brontsema said. “Quite frankly, even though we got our butts handed to us this weekend, we’re a marginal team right now and they’re the defending national champions. We had a hard time staying with them.”
Santa Barbara’s inexperienced infield contributed to the high run totals. The Gauchos (19-25 overall, 1-8 Big West) committed seven errors, which led to 12 unearned runs on the weekend.
“I think the inexperience is part of it. It’s not all of it, but that’s part of it,” Brontsema said. “Our errors weren’t because we were out of position. We just have to get more repetitions in practice.”
Friday, UCSB got off to the right start, loading the bases with one out in the first inning against junior left-handed starter Ricky Romero. An RBI ground out from junior first baseman Bill Rowe gave the Gauchos their first and final run of the game.
From there, Romero shut down Santa Barbara, throwing eight innings of one-run baseball. The Gauchos managed just the one run on three hits, while Romero struck out eight for his ninth win of the season.
Fullerton used 2-3 performances from both junior left fielder Danny Dorn and sophomore first baseman Brett Pill drive in five of its nine runs. Pill hit the lone home run of the game and scored three runs.
“[Fullerton] is a national champion caliber team absolutely,” Brontsema said. “They have some guys who are out as well but their depth is phenomenal. They have 40 guys on the roster and they can fill in with guys who are very good.”
A five-run second inning put the Titans on top early Saturday. Two infield errors in the inning kept all the runs unearned. The Gauchos answered with one run in the third before Fullerton put up five more over the next three innings to give it a 10-1 lead.
Despite notching three runs in the ninth, UCSB and junior starter Michael Martin took the loss. Martin allowed nine hits and just three earned runs in six innings of work.
Fullerton used a four-run fourth and a nine-run fifth inning Sunday to blow past the Gauchos. With the game tied at one in the fourth, sophomore starter Andy Graham gave up a bases-loaded, three-run double to sophomore shortstop Blake Davis.
In the fifth, the Gaucho bullpen took over for Graham and got rocked. Senior right-handers Loren Fraser and Alex McRobbie combined to allow eight runs on nine hits in one inning before sophomore Justin Segal quieted the Titan bats with 1.2 innings of scoreless pitching.
Davis and Dorn led Fullerton this weekend. Dorn needed just three hits in his 11 at-bats to drive in six and score four runs. With his 8-14 performance, Davis had seven runs and five RBI.