After sleep walking through the first seven innings, the UCSB baseball team’s offense woke up in time to salvage a 4-3 victory over the University of British Columbia in an exhibition game yesterday.
Trailing 3-2 in the bottom of the ninth, freshman third baseman Matt Clark led off with a homerun off of Thunderbird junior closer Joey Benda to tie the game. The next three Gaucho hitters reached base via two singles and a walk to load the bases with no outs. Freshman infielder Shane Carlson drove the first pitch he saw to left center, deep enough to score sophomore second baseman Alden Carrithers from third for the winning run.
“I was just trying to get a pitch up and lift it with no outs,” Carlson said.
Thursday’s performance was one of the weakest yet by the Santa Barbara offense. The six hits were a season low and the Gauchos stranded nine runners.
With few hits falling, UCSB had to turn to the long ball to put runs on the board. With one out in the eighth, junior shortstop Chris Valaika singled and junior catcher Matt Anderson followed with a two-run home run to left center, cutting the deficit to 3-2. It was the first time this season two Gauchos hit a home run in the same game.
“I was just trying to keep the inning going so we could have a chance,” Anderson said. “We did a poor job early in the game but were able to come on late.”
Santa Barbara junior starter Brian Tracy threw four scoreless innings, allowing just three hits. The quality starting pitching was a relief as UCSB had given up five first inning runs in Tuesday’s loss to USC and four in the first in Sunday’s loss to San Jose State.
“[Tracy] had no walks, threw lots of strikes, and I’m very pleased with his outing,” Head Coach Bob Brontsema said. “He had good command and that is a good sign.”
The Gaucho pitching staff issued only three walks after allowing ten against the Trojans. Freshman closer Clayton Edwards entered the game with two runners on in the eighth, but ended the British Columbia rally and threw a scoreless ninth.
“Edwards was very good,” Brontsema said. “He has got a lot of funk to him and throws strikes. He is tough to hit because of his horrible mechanics.”
The three runs allowed were the fewest by UCSB since the season opening win against Westmont.
“It always feels good to get out there and have an opportunity to pitch,” Edwards said. “We’re moving forward. The freshmen are more relaxed and I think we’ve gotten all the jitters out.”
The Gauchos are off this weekend and will return to the field next Tuesday in a rematch with cross-town rival Westmont.