January 28, 2006

UCSB Makes it Two Straight, Downs Alumni 8-3

Jan. 28, 2006

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - Juniors Chris Valaika and Mario Lewis each had three hits to guide the 2006 UCSB squad past the alumni 8-3 on Saturday at Caesar Uyesaka stadium during the annual Alumni Game.

Valaika went a perfect three-for-three at the plate, including a double, two runs scored, two RBI, two walks and a hit-by-pitch. Senior C.J. Cook cashed in on his only at-bat on the day, turning on a two-strike pitch and driving it down the right-field line for a triple.

The alumni held their own in the beginning, shutting out the Gaucho offense in the first two innings. Alumni starter Brian Noyes (1996) loaded the bases in the first after hitting two Gaucho batters, but Chad Peshke (2001) and Chris Malec (2005) bailed him out by turning a double play on a line drive off the bat of junior Robbie Blauer.

In the third, the alumni team came out swinging. With one out and runners on first and second, Tim DeGrasse, a 1991 First Team All-Big West right-handed pitcher, found the gap in left-center field to drive in the first two runs of the game. Skip Schumaker (2001), who made his Major League debut this past season for the St. Louis Cardinals, followed suit and singled into left field to drive in the third and final run of the inning. Unfortunately for the alumni, those three runs would be all they could muster.

UCSB answered back for one run in the bottom half of the third. After Valaika walked and reached second on a wild pitch, Blauer singled up the middle to cut the lead to two. The 2006 squad pushed another run across in the fifth to cut the lead to 3-2. Junior Clayton Shank doubled to center field to start the inning for the Gauchos. After sophomore Dave Harrit pinch ran for Shank at second, Valaika wasted no time driving him in to cut the deficit to one.

The bottom half of the sixth proved lucrative for the Gaucho offense. After loading the bases, freshman Chris McMurray drove in two runs with a single. After a ground out scored another Gaucho run and pushed McMurray to third, Lewis picked up his only RBI on the day with a single into right-center field.

Up by three, UCSB posted two more runs for good measure in the meaningless bottom of the ninth. Following a Cody Dee single, Cook blasted a triple down the right field line to give UCSB a four-run advantage. After Cook was thrown out trying to tag-up on a fly ball off the bat of sophomore Patrick Rose, back-to-back doubles by Harrit and Valaika gave the Gauchos the 8-3 victory.

Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim prospect Nate Sutton (2004) beat all odds to win the 2006 Gaucho Alumni Home Run Derby. Sutton out-homered current career home run king Matt Wilkerson (2005), former home run leader Dave Willis (1997), "The Bomber" Tyler Von Schell (2001) and Jed Stringham (2001) to take the crown.

The 2006 UCSB squad begins its season on Feb. 7 at home against Westmont at 2 pm. The Gauchos will then host San Jose State for a three-game series starting on Feb. 10 at 2 pm.