The UCSB baseball team picked up its second win of the year over a Pac-10 Conference powerhouse, defeating #22 UCLA 11-8 last night. UCSB also knocked off USC in early April.
The Gaucho offense flexed its muscle early as the squad’s first six runs came via the long ball. Junior right fielder Mario Lewis launched a pitch from Bruin junior pitcher Brian Schroeder over the center field fence with two runners on for a 3-0 second inning lead. Sophomore infielder Alden Carrithers followed with a solo shot and senior center fielder Matt Emerick blasted a two-run homer in the third.
“[Having the lead] means you can do a lot more things, we can be more aggressive pitching and on offense,” Head Coach Bob Brontsema said.
After UCLA (23-17 overall) got two runs back in the bottom of the third, the Santa Barbara offense stirred again. The Gauchos loaded the bases with two outs and freshman designated hitter Matt Clark delivered a bases clearing double to put UCSB on top 9-2.
“[Clutch hitting] is something we didn’t do a whole lot of last year but it makes things a whole lot easier,” junior pitcher Brian Tracy said. “Other teams look at that and think they were so close, but we proved tonight we don’t give up.”
Tracy allowed a run in the bottom of the sixth, exiting with a six-run cushion and picking up his second win of the year. But freshman reliever Anthony Martin walked the first three batters he faced in the eighth before freshman catcher Cody Decker and senior left fielder Anthony Norman chipped in two-run singles for the Bruins, who trimmed the lead to 9-8.
“We certainly thought we had a good chance,” Brontsema said. “We just let them back in the game. To [Martin’s] credit, he got a double play ball. I thought Anthony handled the pressure well after getting in the early mix-up.”
Freshman catcher Chris McMurray drew a bases loaded walk in the top of the ninth, scoring junior shortstop Chris Valaika, and freshman left fielder Brian Gump scored on a passed ball, giving UCSB an 11-8 lead heading into the bottom of the ninth.
Junior reliever Justin Segal took the mound after allowing two runs in the eighth and allowed the leadoff batter to single, but battled back for a strikeout and a game-ending double play.
“I think two months ago we would have lost this game,” Brontsema said. “It shows great growth for our team to stand up to the challenge of a team that has been hot and is now in the polls.”
The Gauchos completed their eight-game road swing with a 3-5 mark, winning two of their last three. The team returns to Caesar Uyesaka Stadium this weekend to host Cal State Northridge.