Everyone likes presents and UCLA packaged up a game and handed it over to the UCSB baseball team yesterday.
The Bruins (25-20 overall) committed four errors leading to four unearned runs for the Gauchos (21-23, 6-9 in the Big West) in Santa Barbara’s 4-3 come-from-behind win.
“Usually when you make four errors, it does cost you and we’re glad it did,” UCSB Head Coach Bob Brontsema said. “The field is kind of hard.”
UCLA broke through first in the second inning after a two-out double by freshman left fielder Tim Murphy and an RBI single by senior center fielder Josh Roenicke. Freshman second basemen Jermaine Curtis pushed the Bruin lead to 2-0 with a sacrifice fly to score freshman catcher Ryan Babineau in the third.
The first Gaucho run came in the fourth inning after a leadoff single by junior shortstop and Big West Player of the Week Chris Valaika, who then stole second. Two batters later, junior first baseman Robbie Blauer grounded a pitch to Curtis, who failed to field it cleanly and the ball skipped away. Valaika aggressively rounded third and headed for home, beating the tag from Babineau to put UCSB on the board.
“Coach Brontsema was waving me home to begin with and then held me up a little too late and I ran through his stop sign,” Valaika said. “It was my fault but luckily it paid off.”
With the score still 2-1 in the seventh, the Bruin defense fell apart once again. Freshman left fielder Austin Hogans reached on an error by freshman shortstop Brandon Crawford and advanced to third on a single by freshman third baseman Shane Carlson. Hogans came home after Crawford bobbled a ball hit by junior right fielder Mario Lewis to tie the game.
Later in the inning Valaika hit into what appeared to be an inning-ending double play with the bases loaded, but after forcing sophomore second baseman Alden Carrithers at second, Curtis’ relay to first was off target allowing two runs to score as Santa Barbara took a 4-2 lead. The Gauchos finished with three runs in the inning, despite just one hit.
Santa Barbara’s bullpen allowed just one run through six innings, retiring the Bruins in order three times. Junior reliever Justin Segal, after blowing a save in Sunday’s loss to Cal State Fullerton, made things interesting in the ninth. With two runners on Segal allowed a two-out single to junior pinch hitter Will Penniall to cut the lead to one, but battled back to strike out Crawford for his sixth save of the year.
“The staff has been pitching well, they’re very solid every day and they don’t get all the credit they deserve,” Valaika said. “We didn’t hit well but they kept us in the game and we ended up pulling out a win.”
Junior pitcher Justin Aspegren and freshmen pitchers Anthony Martin, Matt Wade, and Clayton Edwards all chipped in innings from the bullpen.
“Our pitching in general was pretty good and our bullpen was outstanding,” Brontsema said. “That’s at least four straight games where we have come out and allowed our offense a chance to do something.”
The Gauchos face Long Beach State this weekend.