The UC Santa Barbara baseball team broke out with a six-run first inning on Sunday at Sunken Diamond Field, leading the road team to a 15-11 victory over #24 Stanford to end a frustrating three-game series on a positive note.
In the first game of the series, Stanford rallied back and drove in a walk-off run in the bottom of the ninth to win 6-5. In the second game, Stanford drove in a walk-off run in the bottom of the eleventh to win 5-4 in an extra-inning thriller.
“Friday and Saturday were brutal games,” junior right fielder Mark Haddow said. “It’s hard to come back from [two games like] that. The team definitely responded today with intensity and fire.”
Haddow scored three runs and walked twice in Sunday’s effort. Senior catcher Marty Mullins led all players with five RBIs after hitting a grand slam in the team’s explosive inning.
“That six-spot in the first was big for our morale,” Haddow said. “I think we were just so pissed [off] from the first two games that we wanted to supply the offensive power, so it didn’t come down to the end like it did in the last two games.”
UCSB improved to 4-4 after Sunday’s game. Stanford dropped to 6-4.
On Sunday, the Gauchos led 14-3 going into the bottom of the sixth before junior starting pitcher Nick Capito gave up a one-out triple followed by a single that drove in a run. Stanford was just getting started. The Cardinal proceeded to hit home seven more runs, three more of which were credited to Capito. It took two more UCSB relievers to get out of the inning.
“I felt like one of the parents watching the game,” junior lefthander Mario Hollands said. “It was a hard game to go through because of all of the emotions from the first two games. [But] we finally stepped our foot on their throats and finished them off.”
Junior lefty relief pitcher Connor Whalen closed out the sixth inning with a strikeout and pitched into the eight inning without allowing a run. Junior right-hander Jesse Meaux came in to earn the save.
“It was good relief by Connor Whalen and a great close by Jesse Meaux,” Gaucho Head Coach Bob Brontsema said.
Today, the Gauchos will break for an exhibition game against Japan’s Waseda University at home in Caesar Uyesaka Stadium. at 2 p.m. UCSB will play with wooden bats for the first time since the NCAA implemented metal bats over 30 years ago.
UCSB will begin its first home series of the season against Northern Illinois on March 12 at 2 p.m.
“We know we could have come from this weekend 3-0. We just need to continue our momentum onto next week and hopefully sweep against Illinois,” Hollands said.