A couple big innings from the Gaucho offense and a well-pitched debut from one of their young arms led the UCSB Baseball team to an impressive 9-3 victory over visiting Cal State Northridge. With the win, the Gauchos (7-3 overall) remain undefeated at Caesar Uyesaka Stadium and will go into their weekend series with Houston University riding a four-game winning streak.
Santa Barbara got things started in the third inning when junior infielder Robby Cummings turned on a fastball, sending it clear over the right field wall to give the Gauchos a 3-1 lead. Cummings went two-for-four with two RBIs in his first start of the season, coming in place of struggling senior third baseman Patrick Rose. UCSB would tack on another run in the inning courtesy of junior outfielder Brian Gump, who, with a single, steal and Matador throwing error, was able to come all the way home to bring the score to 4-1.
The heart of the line-up would provide some more insurance in the fifth, plating four runs highlighted by a two-run double from junior second baseman Shane Carlson. Carlson, who had his share of offensive troubles to begin the 2007 season, now leads the team in average and runs batted in, hitting at a .405 clip with 12 RBIs. The Gauchos final run of the game would come in the top of the eighth off the bat of sophomore shortstop Matt Valaika, whose first home run of the season capped off a perfect four-for-four performance at the plate.
While the offense preyed on the Northridge (5-3) pitchers, freshman right hander Greg Davis kept his composure in his first collegiate start, holding CSUN to only two runs in six innings of work, striking out six Matadors in the process. The Gaucho bullpen allowed only one run in the final three innings of the game, with sophomore closer Clayton Edwards inducing a double-play groundout to wrap things up in the top of the ninth.
After taking down two Big West foes this past week in rival Cal Poly and Cal State Northridge, UCSB will look for its momentum to carry over into the Lone Star state as they get set to take on Houston (6-4). The Cougars, who hold an impressive 5-1 home record, should prove to be a tough opponent for the Gauchos. HU has faced very formidable nonconference competition thus far, with two of their four losses coming in narrow one-run defeats versus #6 Rice and #7 Texas. Houston also boasts three position players batting above .400, which should provide some interesting matchups against the Gaucho weekend starters, who have a combined 2.25 ERA in six starts with more strikeouts than innings pitched.