After a three game sweep at the hands of #26 Texas Christian University, UCSB is now in the midst of a season-long five-game losing streak.
The Horned Frogs (21-8 overall) took both ends of Saturday’s doubleheader, winning the first game 12-3 before taking the nightcap 8-5. Freshman right-hander Mike Ford took a perfect game into the sixth inning on Sunday, but the Gaucho bullpen gave up five runs as TCU stormed back to take the series finale 8-3. The losing streak comes at an inopportune time for the Gauchos (11-16), with the Big West Conference schedule beginning this weekend.
“We’re trying to challenge our guys to try and figure out which team they are,” Head Coach Bob Brontsema said. “Are they the team that beat Pepperdine and was beating a very good TCU team or are they the team that’s been playing poorly? We need some more things from our seniors and we’ll see how they respond.”
Despite the success of Ford, pitching was a problem for the Gauchos throughout the weekend. Senior Steve Morlock gave up eight hits and five earned runs in the series opener and junior Chuck Huggins gave up eight hits and four runs in six innings in game two. Senior closer Justin Segal epitomized the bullpen’s problems, giving up five earned runs in two appearances.
Ford allowed only one hit in his first six innings of work on Sunday, but the wheels came off in the bottom of the seventh. Four hits and two errors allowed TCU to erase a 3-0 UCSB lead. The defensive problems continued in the bottom of the eighth, as the Gauchos gave up a pair of bunt singles on their way to allowing a five-run inning. Ford finished the game with a no-decision after allowing only five hits and one earned run in seven innings of work.
“[Ford] was locating with his fastball and throwing his breaking ball for a strike,” Brontsema said. “He has very good stuff and when he locates his pitches, he’s outstanding. He was dominating and it’s unfortunate that we kind of blew up on him.”
After Friday’s game was delayed due to rain, the Gauchos jumped out to early leads in both ends of Saturday’s doubleheader. Junior centerfielder Chris Fox led off game one with a single and eventually scored on a single from senior first baseman Robbie Blauer. The duo struck again in the first inning of game two, when Fox drew a leadoff walk and scored on a Blauer double.
After seeing his 24-game hitting streak come to an end last week against Cal, Blauer got right back on track, collecting five hits during the weekend series. Fox led the way with three hits in game one, and sophomore shortstop Shane Carlson posted back to back multi-hit games to end the series. All together however, the Gauchos have struggled offensively, being outscored 48-21 during the losing streak.
The weekend sweep comes on the heels of a 9-7 loss to Cal (17-14) and a series loss to #10 Pepperdine (23-8). The road trip continues this weekend as the Gauchos open the Big West season with a three game series against UC Riverside (18-11).