After belting a game-winning home run over the right-field fence in the eleventh inning of the UCSB baseball team’s 8-6 victory over Kansas State, senior first baseman Robbie Blauer will return from Beaumont, Tex. as the hero of the weekend. Blauer’s extra-inning shot gave the Gauchos their first and only win in the Lamar Classic, as UCSB could not rally from behind in its first two games, losing to tournament host Lamar 7-5 and St. John’s 9-6.
Despite trailing throughout Friday’s opening loss to Lamar (9-5 overall), the Gauchos (4-7) managed to tally two runs against Cardinals’ junior starting pitcher Brian Sisk, who earned the victory with seven solid innings that included six strikeouts and only two walks. Sisk had not allowed an earned run in his first 23 and two-thirds innings this season until freshman second baseman Matt Valaika doubled down the left-field line in the fifth inning to send home sophomore shortstop Shane Carlson from first.
But Lamar did not let Carlson’s run go unanswered. In the bottom of the fifth, Gaucho starting pitcher senior Jeff Braun ran into trouble on the mound, walking leadoff batter Cody Morrison before committing a throwing error on the next play that allowed Morrison to score from first. Senior right-hander Brian Tracy then replaced Braun and immediately gave up a three-run bomb to outfielder Collin DeLome, giving Lamar a 6-1 lead that they would never surrender.
Santa Barbara lost Saturday’s game against St. John’s (2-7) in similar fashion, as senior starting pitcher Steve Morlock gave up two runs in the top of the first before allowing a total of five earned runs in five and two-thirds innings. The Gauchos also committed a whopping four errors in the game. Despite a late comeback in the bottom of the ninth, Santa Barbara could not overcome the final three-run deficit.
Senior catcher Matt Anderson had his best day at the plate this season, batting four for five with two RBI and two runs scored. Blauer also grabbed two RBI, going three for five at the plate.
Kansas State (9-2) walked away from the Lamar Classic with the best overall record at 2-1, and would have gone undefeated if it were not for the late-game heroics from Blauer in the Wildcats’ extra-inning loss. UCSB finally got on the scoreboard first thanks to a leadoff home run in the top of the second from Anderson. The Gauchos trailed by one run in the top of the fifth before cranking out a four-run rally with just three hits.
Wildcat third baseman Nate Tenbrink homered to left center in the bottom of the eighth to help Kansas State notch a four-run, game-tying eighth inning, before the Gauchos called in senior right-hander Bryan Fleming to close out the final 3.1 innings. Fleming eventually found the run support he needed to grab the victory, as Blauer’s game-winning shot put the Gauchos up by two heading into the bottom of the eleventh. Blauer notched a phenomenal five RBI and went four for six at the plate with two runs scored.