March 2, 2003
Santa Barbara, Calif. - After a poor effort and some harsh words from head coach Bob Brontsema on Friday, the UC Santa Barbara (8-9) baseball team responded strongly with wins on Saturday and Sunday. The Gauchos took advantage of the chance to win their second straight series by scoring eight runs in the first three innings.
UCSB put up five runs in the first inning with a couple of clutch two-out hits and some help from the Sacramento State (8-8) defense. Matt Stevens led the inning off with a double down the left-field line. After Matt Wilkerson reached on an error, Bill Rowe singled to drive Stevens home. Hornet starting pitcher Steve Cuckovich (2-1) hit Chad Ziemendorf to load the bases and then plunked Brian Adams as well to force in Wilkerson. Centerfielder Matt Emerick followed by singling up the middle to drive home Rowe and Ziemendorf. Cuckovich tried to get out of the inning by catching Emerick napping at first, but his pickoff attempt sailed wide, allowing Adams to score.
The Gauchos kept the pressure on by scoring again in the second inning. Stevens again led off with a base hit. He moved over to third on a single by Nate Sutton and was driven home by a sac fly from DH Taylor Vogt. The third inning brought in two more runs for Santa Barbara. Ziemendorf reached base on an error by first-baseman Chris Kinsey. Adams followed with a blast over the fence in right center, making the score 8-0.
Stevens, filling in for the injured Chris Malec, put together a fantastic hitting series against Sac. State. After his 3-for-5 day on Sunday, he finished the series 8-for-11 with 3 runs scored, 1 RBI and 1 stolen base. His sac bunt in the bottom of the 8th inning on Saturday also moved the eventual winning runner into scoring position. "Matt has done a great job of starting our rallies" quoted Brontsema after the game.
Santa Barbara finalized their scoring by bringing in three more runs in the sixth inning. Singles by Sutton, Vogt, Rowe and Ziemendorf set up a bases-loaded 2 RBI double for Adams. Ziemendorf's single brought in one run as well. Adams finished the day 2-for-3 with 2 runs scored and 5 RBI. Vogt and Rowe also had two hits on the day.
Junior right-hander Matt Vasquez (2-1) earned his second win on the season by pitching six innings and allowing only one run. The first batter he faced, Cliff Hinkle, singled and then stole second and advanced to third on the throw. Vasquez calmly got out of that tough situation, and then wasn't challenged again until the 5th. At one point, he retired 10 of 11 batters faced. He ended the day giving up five hits, walking one and striking out five.
Coach Brontsema was very pleased with his team's effort the last two days. "We responded well to a tough Friday. The difference was (between Friday and Sunday) that we got clutch 2-out hits." Knowing that they could make a big statement with the series victory today, Brontsema said that "we put the pressure on today." The series victory was the second consecutive for UCSB, following last weekend's series against Santa Clara.
Rich Sorenson, Mike Sutherland and Alex McRobbie each pitched one inning of no-hit relief for Santa Barbara. The bullpen today followed a strong trend all series long. Brontsema stated that "we had great pitching all weekend."
UCSB next plays against Keio University at home on Tuesday at 2:00 pm. The game is an exhibition and will not be included in the standings. On Wednesday, the team travels down the road to face Westmont in Montecito, also at 2:00 pm. The Gauchos continue to play on the road when they travel to face Loyola Marymount for a three game series starting Friday, March 7th at 2:00 pm.