In its first four game series of the season, the UCSB baseball team (5-3 overall) came away with two wins in four well-contested games against LMU (3-5). The Gauchos starters pitched pretty well as a whole, including wins by seniors Michael Martin and Chuck Huggins, but a poor outing by freshman starter Mario Hollands accompanied by bullpen woes in relief of sophomore starter Mike Ford pinned UCSB with two close losses.
“Martin and Huggy [Chuck Huggins] both threw phenomenally,” junior outfielder Brian Gump said. “Ford didn’t have his best stuff, and Mario got hit around a little bit, but they battled and gave us a chance to win.”
In Friday’s series opener, Ford would last six innings, allowing two runs while striking out six. Though he pitched out of the stretch for the majority of the game, giving up an uncharacteristically high nine hits, the sophomore pitcher kept it close, exiting with the score tied 2-2. Both teams would turn it on in the later innings, tying the score at 6-6 in the 8th before play was postponed due to darkness. When the 9th inning resumed on Sunday morning, a Gaucho scoring threat in the top of the inning would be erased, and Loyola would capitalize in the bottom of the inning with a walk off hit by Lions right fielder Ollie Enos to win the game 7-6.
The Gauchos second loss of the series came in game one of Saturday’s doubleheader, where redshirt freshman Hollands struggled in 5 1/3 innings of work, allowing five runs on eight hits and three walks. The Gaucho lineup could only muster five hits in support of the young southpaw, ultimately falling 6-3. In the back end of the doubleheader, senior right hander Martin would turn things around for UCSB, limiting the Lions to one run in 5 2/3 innings of work. The UCSB offense would turn things on in support of Martin, busting out for six runs on ten hits, highlighted by a three-hit, two stolen base performance by Gump, hitting in the lead off spot for the first time in his Gaucho career.
“The bottom of the line-up has really been producing, and Coach [Brontsema] wanted to see if he could shake things up and bring that production to the top,” Gump said.
In Sunday’s finale, the Gauchos would receive contributions from several of their players en route to a 3-2 victory. Tied 2-2 going into the sixth inning, junior outfielder John DeAlba, who had five hits over his two weekend starts, led off with a single before swiping second for his first stolen base of the season. Senior third baseman Patrick Rose singled DeAlba home with two outs to give the Gauchos a one-run advantage. Huggins, who allowed two runs with eight strikeouts, would finish the seventh inning with the lead, giving way to junior reliever Zach Samuels and sophomore reliever Clayton Edwards, who finished off the 8th and 9th innings without allowing a hit. Edwards, who has been designated as the Gaucho’s closer, recorded his first save of the season in the victory.
“We were really shooting for a sweep, which is hard to do with four games,” Gump said. “We are not particularly happy with the split, but it could have been worse, and we were able to pull it together and play pretty well in the end.”