The roller coaster ride that is the 2005 UCSB baseball season continued its ups and downs this weekend in Riverside.
After last week’s series win over then-#10 Long Beach State, the Gauchos (22-28 overall, 4-11 in the Big West) dropped two out of three to Riverside this weekend.
“We weren’t good,” Head Coach Bob Brontsema said. “We were a completely different team this weekend. I don’t have an explanation for that.”
The Highlanders (23-24 overall, 8-7 Big West) lost a close game Friday 10-9 in extra innings before laying on the runs on Saturday and Sunday, winning the final two games 14-1 and 13-4, respectively.
Santa Barbara’s pitching was shaky all weekend. The Gauchos’ starting trio allowed a combined 18 runs on 37 hits. In 15 innings of work, the bullpen pitchers didn’t look much better, giving up 18 runs.
“I wish I could give us excuses for how we’ve played, but the fact of the matter is, we just haven’t executed across the board,” Brontsema said. “When you play good teams in this conference and you don’t do things well, you’re going to have it handed to you.”
Friday, UCSB earned its first win over Riverside in four years. The Gauchos took a 9-8 lead into the ninth before senior closer Alex McRobbie blew his first save in 12 opportunities this season, tying the game at nine.
Santa Barbara broke through in the top of the 12th. Senior designated hitter Dave Figoni followed a leadoff triple from freshman left fielder David Harrit with a double down the left-field line to bring in the game winner. McRobbie recovered to earn the win with three innings of scoreless work to finish the game.
Riverside showed off its starting pitching Saturday. Sophomore right-hander Taylor Bills learned his sixth win of the season, allowing just one run while striking out six in eight innings of the game.
Bills was helped by the Highlander offense, which collected 14 runs on 15 hits from Santa Barbara’s pitchers. Center fielder Brett Bigler and first baseman Nick Salotti, both sophomores, worked together to drive in six runs, while freshman catcher Jeff Dunbar led Riverside, going 4-5 with four runs and three RBI.
“Well, [Riverside] certainly looked like a good offensive team. I don’t think that we located particularly well,” Brontsema said. “I’m hoping it was their hitters, but it might be too coincidental that a lot of teams are having good days against us.”
The Gaucho bats remained silent again on Sunday, thanks to junior left-hander Jos