Feb. 17, 2007
SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - Just a day after senior Steve Morlock tossed a complete game for UCSB, the Gauchos (2-2) had the same done to them by senior left-hander Mark Rodrigues for Hawai'i (8-3) in a 5-1 loss at Caesar Uyesaka Stadium. Rodrigues used only 82 pitches to erase twenty-eight Gauchos--one more than the minimum a pitcher must face in a nine-inning game--to earn his fourth win of the season and knot the three-game weekend series between the two teams at one game apiece.
Although UCSB only tallied three hits on the day, junior Mike Zuanich connected for two to finish two-for-three with a homerun and an RBI. For Zuanich, it was his first homerun as a Gaucho. The only other Gaucho to collect a hit in Saturday's game was senior Robbie Blauer, who singled to lead off the seventh inning.
Senior Jeff Braun got the start for the Gauchos, lasting five innings and surrendering two runs (none earned) on two hits and four walks while striking out three. The left-hander found himself in a bit of trouble in both the second and third innings, but was able to slip away unscathed in both frames. The Rainbows managed to put runners at first and second with nobody out in both innings, but Braun was able to pitch out of the jam and keep the score knotted at 0-0 headed into the fourth. After the Gauchos took a 1-0 lead on Zuanich's blast, Braun handed the ball over to left-hander Kyle Brown and the Gaucho bullpen with two on and nobody out in the sixth. Hawai'i plated three runs in the inning, including two that belonged to Braun to tag the Valencia, Calif. native with his first loss of the season. Brown tossed two-thirds of an inning, surrendering an unearned run on three hits before giving way to sophomore right-hander Matt Wade. Wade recorded the third out in the sixth and tossed a hitless seventh to send the game into the bottom of the inning. Next out of the Gaucho bullpen was junior left-hander Chuck Huggins, who went two-thirds of an inning and gave up a run on two hits and a walk while striking out two. Senior Bryan Fleming finished the game on the hill for the Gauchos, throwing the final inning and third, allowing a run on three hits while striking out one.
Over the nine complete innings, Rodrigues tallied four strikeouts and surrendered three hits while not walking a batter. Shortstop Eli Christensen and designated hitter Brandon Haislet paced the Rainbows offensively. Christensen finished two-for-three with an RBI and a walk on the afternoon. Haislet batted two-for-five with an RBI and a double on Saturday. The big blow for Hawai'i came off the bat of Kris Sanchez, who connected for a two-RBI triple in the sixth inning to give the Rainbows the lead for good. For Sanchez, the triple extended his hitting streak to fifteen games.
Neither team scored in the first four innings, but Zuanich changed that in the bottom of the fifth when he blasted a fastball over the wall in left field to give UCSB the 1-0 advantage. With the homer, Zuanich joined senior Mario Lewis and freshman Matt Valaika as the lone Gauchos to go deep thus far this season.
Hawai'i bounced right back from the homerun, plating three runs in the top of the sixth to take a lead it would never let slip. Leadoff hitter Jorge Franco walked to start the inning before Jon Hee reached on a throwing error by Gaucho third baseman Patrick Rose to put runners at first and second. With two on and no one out, Brown replaced Braun and induced a ground ball that left runners at the corners with one out. After Haislet failed to bring home the run with a fly ball to shallow left field, Sanchez cleared the bases with his two-RBI triple down the right field line. On the ensuing play, Christensen followed with a single back up the middle to plate Sanchez and cap the Rainbow scoring run.
The Rainbows went on to plate a single run in the eighth and ninth innings, pushing the score to its final destination at 5-1. Huggins came on to replace Wade in the top of the eighth and quickly gave up a single and a double to put runners at second and third with no one out. After a strikeout of Sanchez made it one out in the inning, UCSB elected to intentionally walk Christensen to load the bases. On the ensuing play, Huggins struck out Evan Zimny looking to record the second out of the inning. With two out and runners still at second and third, head coach Bob Brontsema elected to go to the bullpen once again, this time summoning Fleming to take the hill. Just moments later, a wild pitch in the dirt to Landon Hernandez got away from catcher Chris McMurray and allowed Justin Frash to trot home for the Rainbows.
In the ninth, Franco connected for a one-out single before moving to second on a Hee single through the right side. After a deep fly ball off the bat of Frash moved Franco to third base, Haislet singled sharply into left field to plate the fifth and final run of the game for Hawai'i.
The Gauchos and Rainbows will conclude their three-game series with tomorrow's rubber match to be played at 12 p.m. Freshman Mike Ford (0-0, 0-0) is slated to make his first collegiate start for the Gauchos, while Joshua Schneider (0-0, 0.00) is scheduled to be on the hill for Hawai'i.