After getting blown out in Thursday’s Big West opener, the UCSB baseball team recovered to split two weekend games against Riverside, and in the process break a six-game losing streak.
The Gauchos (12-18 overall, 1-2 in the Big West) continued to suffer the effects of inconsistency on the mound, as rough outings from senior right-hander Brian Tracy and freshman right-hander Mike Ford were sandwiched around a superb Friday start by junior southpaw Chuck Huggins.
Ford gave up seven earned runs on 10 hits in only 5.2 innings in Saturday’s series finale, but UCSB still held an 8-7 lead after eight innings. Senior closer Justin Segal got two quick outs to open the nint, but after Riverside (20-12, 2-1 Big West) first baseman Mark Samuelson hit a triple off the wall, the tying run was only 90 feet away. Junior outfielder Aaron Wible followed with a ground ball to short that should have ended the game, but sophomore shortstop Shane Carlson overthrew first base, allowing Samuelson to score and putting the winning run in scoring position. Freshman infielder Ryan Goetz smacked a line drive to center that got past a diving Chris Fox, allowing Wible to score and give the Highlanders a 9-8 comeback victory.
Senior right fielder Mario Lewis led the way offensively for the Gauchos with four RBIs and his second home run of the season. Senior first baseman Robbie Blauer added two hits and an RBI, and sophomore catcher Chris McMurray finished one-for-three with an RBI and a run scored.
Despite a strong start from Huggins on Friday, UCSB needed three runs in the eighth to earn a 5-4 come-from-behind victory. Huggins took a no-hitter into the bottom of the sixth and improved to 4-0 on the year. The transfer from Trinity College allowed five hits and four earned runs in seven innings while striking out five. Fox did the majority of the damage in the eighth with a two-run single to tie the game, followed by an RBI from Lewis to give the Gauchos the lead. Segal came on for two scoreless innings of relief to pick up his fourth save of the season. Junior second baseman Patrick Rose finished with three hits, while Fox and McMurray added two hits apiece.
Every Riverside starter reached base in Thursday’s series opener, as the Highlanders racked up 13 hits on the way to a 9-0 victory. Tracy struggled with his command throughout the evening, issuing six walks and giving up six runs in five innings of work. Riverside junior starter James Simmons held the Gauchos to only two hits in eight innings while striking out 10.