For the second straight game, the UCSB baseball team gave up a big first inning and was not able to catch up, falling 16-11 to #25 USC.
Freshman pitcher Brandt Hill, making his first start as a Gaucho, walked four batters in the first inning and allowed five runs. Junior pitcher Andy Graham did not fare much better in the second, giving up a three-run homerun to Trojan junior right fielder Cyle Hankerd as Southern California (5-3 overall) raced out to an 8-0 lead.
“The free bases put your ball club in a hole, no question about it,” Pitching Coach Tom Myers said. “That’s what happened right out of the gate. We were having to climb up an enormous hill.”
The Santa Barbara (2-3) offense answered the call, posting two runs in second and five more in the third to trim the deficit to one, 8-7.
However, USC freshman reliever John Dunn came in to throw 3.2 scoreless innings out of the bullpen to stifle the UCSB bats while the Trojans kept on trucking, adding eight more runs to the board.
“He did a good job, he came in and mixed pitches,” Head Coach Bob Brontsema said. “He wasn’t overpowering but he mixed enough to get the job done. He was the difference in the game and was the only pitcher that really did anything.”
Six different pitchers took the mound for UCSB and the staff combined to issue ten walks while hitting four batters. Each pitcher was tagged for at least one run.
“14 extra bases is a lot of runs and even if a team doesn’t get one single hit, 14 bases is a lot,” junior reliever Justin Segal said. “It’s early in the year and the starters are on a pitch count and no matter how good or bad they have done they are going to come out of the game.”
Five of the walks resulted in runs for USC, whose leadoff batter reached base in seven of the eight innings. The game was called before the beginning of the ninth due to darkness.
“I’m concerned about our competitiveness,” Myers said. “We don’t walk guys. I don’t mind giving up hits, but walks are a mental type of thing.”
The Gaucho offense did its part reaching the 10-hit plateau for the fifth time this season. Leading the way was sophomore leadoff Alden Carrithers who reached base four times in five trips and had three singles. Senior center fielder Matt Emerick also chipped in three hits and scored two times.
“I’m expecting us to be a little more productive,” Brontsema said. “We had a lot of called strikeouts today with runners on. We might not always put up 15 hits but I think we can be more productive.”
UCSB takes the field tomorrow with the University of British Colombia coming to town for an exhibition game. First pitch is scheduled for 2 p.m.