It was another tough series for Gaucho baseball, which dropped three straight games to #5 Cal State Fullerton, reducing its postseason chances to nearly nil. Trying to fight their way out of an extremely tough Big West conference, UCSB needed to put away Fullerton to keep their playoff hopes alive, but were able to put up just nine runs in three games on their way to their first series sweep of the season.
Beginning on Friday, the Gauchos looked as though they would put up a solid fight, throwing out junior starter Joe Gardner, who has gotten off to a quick 6-0 start this season. Unfortunately, the Titans lit him up for six runs in seven innings. In a poor effort to combat Fullerton’s potent offense, Santa Barbara put up only two hits for two runs. The disappointing game one loss set the tone for the whole weekend, as UCSB could never really get anything going. With a sweep at the hand of CSUF, the Gauchos could still conceivably make the playoffs, but sophomore Mario Hollands realizes that the chances are slim.
“It hurts us pretty badly, but there’s still a chance,” Hollands said. “A slight chance. It was just an overall rough weekend.”
Cal State Fullerton is undoubtedly a good team, thriving on preventing its opponents from ever getting into a groove. That was on full display Saturday, when UCSB headed into the ninth with a one-run lead. Unfortunately, an inning-opening walk followed by a bunt for a single, then a sacrifice bunt, put runners on second and third. After senior pitcher Zach Samuels intentionally walked the next batter, Josh Fellhauer stepped up to the plate and belted a single to right field, winning the game for the Titans in walk-off fashion. Senior centerfielder Brian Gump was understandably disappointed with the team’s performance.
“We just got outplayed this weekend,” Gump said. “They executed all their pitches, and we weren’t executing. They just took it to us.”
Sunday was more of the same for the reeling Gauchos, when junior starter Mike Ford let off five runs in four and one third innings, marking the beginning of the Titan’s hit parade that plated double digit runs in a 15-3 blowout. After the three-game sweep, UCSB drops to 6-9 in the Big West, one of the toughest conferences in college baseball.
“It’s the biggest part of our season really,” Hollands said. “It’s the bread and butter, and it’s unfortunate we haven’t been able to do as well as we had hoped in the Big West.”
The season is not over yet for the Gauchos, as they have one midweek game at Pepperdine this week before beginning three more series to close out the season.
“Our level of play has to be a lot higher,” Gump said. “We’ve got to go out and play baseball, and get our confidence back. Just keep going out there and grinding.”