Although they had a chance to prove themselves against a Pac-10 power this weekend, the Gauchos struggled at the plate and on the mound, dropping a two-game series to Cal (7-7) at Caesar Uyesaka Stadium. UCSB (3-5) lost 7-1 on Sunday, before losing Monday’s game 6-1.
“It was a disappointing performance,” Head Coach Bob Brontsema said. “We never got the bats going and we weren’t competitive whatsoever.”
Senior Jeff Braun started Monday’s game, but the southpaw was knocked out of the game in the fourth inning. Braun struggled with his control, giving up four walks, three hits and three runs in only three and two-thirds innings of work.
The Bears got on the board early when freshman designated hitter Jeff Kobernus scored after leading off the game with a double. Cal gradually extended the lead, scoring one run in each of the third, fourth, fifth, seventh and ninth innings.
“We’re keeping innings small, which is nice, but we’re giving teams too many opportunities to score,” Brontsema said.
UCSB scored for the first time in the bottom of the third, when junior centerfielder Chris Fox hit a leadoff double and advanced to third on freshman catcher Cody Dee’s infield single. After two quick outs, Fox came around to score on a wild pitch.
The Gauchos threatened again in the eighth when senior first baseman Robbie Blauer and junior left fielder Mike Zuanich hit back-to-back singles. With two runners on, Cal sophomore Matt Gorgen struck out senior right fielder Mario Lewis and freshman second baseman Matt Valaika before getting pinch hitter Clayton Shank to weakly pop out to second.
Senior right-hander Steve Morlock saw his worst outing of the season on Sunday, lasting only four and a third innings while giving up five runs on 11 hits and three walks. Morlock gave up only one run in his first two starts this season, but Cal got to him early and often before finally knocking Morlock out of the game with a three-run homer in the fifth.
The Gauchos managed to keep the score close until the Bears broke the game wide open with a four-run fourth inning. A walk and two singles scored a run and put two runners on base for freshman right fielder Blake Smith, who blasted a Morlock offering over the right field fence. UCSB briefly threatened in the ninth, loading the bases with two outs, but Blauer grounded out to short to end the game.
The Gauchos will now hit the road for a tournament in Beaumont, Texas. UCSB will face Lamar (6-3) on Friday before taking on St. John’s (0-2) and Kansas State (7-1) over the weekend.