The UCSB baseball team played its final home series of the season this weekend, as the Gauchos defeated UC Davis two games to one.
The Gauchos (25-26 overall, 8-10 in the Big West) racked up a total of 39 runs over the weekend, compared to the Aggies’ 18 total runs, as UCSB won the series 5-7, 14-6 and 20-5.
In game one, the Aggies (16-34 overall) struck first as Gaucho starter, junior right-handed pitcher Andy Graham allowed seven runs in six innings. On the opposite side of the rubber, Davis senior left-handed pitcher Michael Potter allowed one run on four hits through the sixth inning. In the eighth, the Gauchos blasted four runs, two of which came on passed balls through senior catcher David Treat. The four-run rally was highlighted by junior first baseman Robbie Blauer’s second home run of the year. Blauer finished two-for-four at the plate, as three Gauchos tallied multiple hits. However, the Gauchos fell in game one, 7-5. Potter received the win, as he went 7 2/3 innings, giving up just five runs on 10 hits, while striking out five.
“Potter getting tired really was the key,” UCSB Head Coach Bob Brontsema said. “That was it. He got tired, and we got a couple of knocks, and got to their pen. Their pen wasn’t as good as Potter. He was good. Obviously, it’s disappointing. We thought we were ready for it, and that’s wasn’t the case, obviously.”
Game two looked to be more of the same story for the Gauchos, as junior left-handed pitcher Jeff Braun allowed three runs in the first inning. However, in the bottom half of the first, the Gauchos brought in four runs off Davis freshman right-handed pitcher Brad McAtee. The Gauchos plated four runs in the second and five in the fourth, as UCSB defeated Davis 14-5. Braun recovered from the shaky first inning, and pitched seven innings, giving up five runs off of nine hits, while striking out five and walking two. Junior right-handed pitcher Justin Aspegren came in from the bullpen for the Gauchos and gave up one unearned run off of two hits in two innings.
“[Braun] pitched a gutsy performance,” Pitching Coach Tom Myers said. “He made pitches when he had to. Getting seven innings from him, and another nice job by Aspegren, allowed us to have arms for the rubber match.”
In game three, junior right-handed pitcher Brian Tracy allowed only one run into the seventh inning, and the Gauchos exploded for 20 runs off 23 hits. The big inning came in the fifth for UCSB, as the Gauchos cycled through their lineup, scoring 10 runs. The inning was highlighted by junior shortstop Chris Valaika’s grand slam, his 10th home run, and his second in the game. Valaika ended the game with seven RBI and three hits in five at-bats. Six Gauchos tallied multiple hits in the game.
“It was quite a turnaround from last year,” Brontsema said. “We are significantly a better team. The guys have grown a lot; our record over the last month shows that. You just have to watch us to see the improvement.”
Blauer led all Gauchos over the weekend, as he went seven-for-10, including a three-for-three performance in Saturday’s 14-6 win. Blauer currently holds a 10-game hitting streak.
“Blauer’s been on fire for the past two-plus weeks,” Brontsema said. “He has come up big for us. There is a lot you can say about a guy that has been producing hits. He has certainly given us a lift at the plate.”