In last Wednesday’s meeting against Pepperdine, the Gaucho bullpen blew a lead for starting senior right hander Michael Martin, giving up a grand slam in the ninth to drop their third meeting of the season to the Waves 7-3. Ninth inning relief would be the undoing for UCSB once again in yesterday’s season finale against Pepperdine, this time with Martin giving up the winning run in the bottom of the ninth pitching in relief to cost Santa Barbara their final nonconference game in a 5-4 loss on the road.
Martin, a usually reliable swingman struggled with his command in the final frame trying to send the game to extras, giving up a single and walking two batters before plunking Waves infielder Denny Duron to drive home the winning run.
UC Santa Barbara (30-17 overall, 9-6 in the Big West) came in with high hopes of splitting the season series with the #14 team in the nation, as they dominated their first game against Pepperdine (29-16 overall, 9-5 in the West Coast Conference) in a 14-0 blowout before losing their third meeting through a late-inning meltdown, a trend that has cost the team several games in recent weeks.
Right out of the gates, the Gauchos hopes were in immediate jeopardy as Pepperdine was able to put three runs on the board in the first through two RBI singles and junior right fielder Brian Gump’s first error of the season that plated the final run of the inning.
Junior right-hander and Wednesday’s starter Zach Samuels (2-3, 7.04 ERA) would weather the storm after a shaky first inning, shutting down the Wave bats through the next two innings in his first start of the season. Samuels would give way to a handful of relievers that would combine to give up only one more run leading up to the ninth.
The impressive middle relief would allow UCSB to mount their inevitable comeback, as the middle of the order – junior first baseman Eric Oliver, senior left fielder Mike Zuanich junior shortstop Shane Carlson and senior third baseman Patrick Rose – would reach base seven out of eight times in the fourth and fifth innings to plate three runs and tie the score.
Trailing by a run in the seventh, Carlson (.331 average, 44 RBI) would strike again, doubling home senior center fielder Chris Fox to tie things up once more leading up to a disappointing bottom of the ninth. Carlson, who went a perfect 5-for-5 at the plate last Saturday, finished the game 3-for-4 with two RBI.
Though Santa Barbara out-hit the Waves ten to seven, lack of production from the top and bottom of the order led to 11 runners left of base for the game. If the Gauchos wish to move up in the conference standings as they face Long Beach State this weekend, the entire line-up is going to have to put up the numbers that have placed the UCSB offense in the upper echelon of Big West baseball.