Feb. 21, 2003
Santa Barbara, Calif. - UC Santa Barbara (5-7) continued to win despite missing three key starters. The Gauchos defeated Santa Clara (6-7) on Friday by a score of 5-1 behind the strength of three homeruns. Senior Sean Thompson (1-2) pitched five innings to earn the win, allowing only a solo homerun in the first inning. The left-hander was moved up a day in the rotation after Matt Vasquez was a late scratch. Thompson finished the day allowing eight hits and one earned run while striking out four and walking one. He also hit one batter.
Santa Clara scored on the second batter of the game when A.J. LaBarbara launched a 3-2 pitch over the fence in left field. Thompson and the rest of the Gaucho pitching held fast and didn't allow another run the entire afternoon. LaBarbara was one of four Broncos to have two hits on the day.
The Gauchos pulled even in the third inning thanks to two singles and an RBI safety-squeeze bunt by Josh Fulton. Brian Adams led off the frame with a base hit. He moved to second when the Santa Clara starting pitcher Matt Travis (1-2) threw away a pickoff attempt. Bill Rowe singled to move Adams to third. Fulton then laid down a near-perfect bunt, easily scoring Adams. Fulton just barely was thrown out at first on the play. Fulton would later single to raise his team-leading batting average to .438. He also leads the team with five sacrifice bunts.
Santa Barbara scored again in the fourth and fifth innings with three homeruns. Nate Sutton tattooed a Travis offering to start the 4th. Matt Wilkerson followed with a double. With two outs, Matt Stevens crushed a pitch over the fence in center to bring in Wilkerson. Bill Rowe led off the next inning with a bomb of his own. It was the first career homerun for the freshman from Ashland, Oregon. The homeruns were the second on the season for Sutton and the first for Stevens.
UCSB has been playing without the help of three expected starters. Last weekend against San Jose State, second baseman Chris Malec and first baseman Josh McCanne went down with injuries. Malec is expected to miss at least six weeks with a dislocated kneecap. He injured it on a homerun swing in his first at-bat on Saturday. McCanne suffered a partial tear of his hamstring the next day. He is expected to miss 3-4 weeks. Senior leftfielder Blair Havens suffered a broken bone in his non-throwing hand in Tuesday's game against UCLA. Making a diving attempt to catch a ball, he landed on the hand, breaking one of his metacarpals. Havens will most likely miss at least four weeks.
The injuries have depleted the depth of Santa Barbara's roster. Head Coach Bob Brontsema has been forced to use players in ways that he wouldn't normally. Facing a lefthander today, Rowe and Adams, both lefthanders themselves, got the start. Even with the unconventional match up, the lefties were able to produce. "The three lefthanders (including Sutton) gave us some of our better at bats today," said Brontsema after the game.
Alex McRobbie pitched two scoreless innings allowing only one hit. Ivan Ramirez handled the Broncos in the seventh, allowing only one base runner due to a hit-batsman. Freshman Steve Morlock closed out the game with a perfect ninth inning.
The two teams continue the three-game series on Saturday and Sunday with games at 1:00 pm. Both games will be at Caesar Uyesaka Stadium. Sophomore right-hander Eric Posthumus (0-1) will take the mound for the Gauchos on Saturday. Andrew Slorp (0-0) will get the start for Santa Clara.