March 5, 2005

Gauchos Fall After Giving Up Five First Inning Runs, 6-5

March 5, 2005

Box Score

SEATTLE, Wash. - Senior second baseman Chris Malec led the Gaucho offense with two doubles and two runs scored, but UC Santa Barbara ultimately wound up on the short end of a 6-5 decision against the University of Washington on Saturday afternoon in Seattle, Wash.

UCSB found itself in a hole early after giving up five runs on four hits while committing both Gaucho errors and a balk in the first inning. After reaching with a leadoff single to left center, Husky right fielder Taylor Johnson swiped his fifth bag of the year and put himself in scoring position with no outs. Following the stolen base, Andy Lentz struck out swinging at a ball in the dirt, but he reached second base and Johnson came around to score after Gaucho catcher Matt Kalafatis' throw sailed high and ended up in right field.

Brent Lillibridge added to the Husky lead with a double to drive in Lentz, and after Larsen was hit by a pitch, Zach Clem knocked a double of his own to drive in Lillibridge. After a strikeout and a sacrafice fly that scored Kyle Larsen, Matt Stevens singled to third base and reached second on a throwing error by David Figoni which also resulted not only in the Huskies' fifth and final run of the inning, but also their last until the ninth inning.

After two shutout innings by both teams, UC Santa Barbara managed to chip away at the Husky lead by posting its first two runs of the day in the fourth inning. After Malec led off the inning with his first of two doubles on the day, Matt Wilkerson grounded out to third base and Malec advanced to third on the play. The Gauchos' next batter, Bill Rowe, knocked in the first Gaucho run of the day with a ground out to first base. With sophomore shortstop Chris Valaika aboard at second on a single and stolen base, Matt Emerick singled to left field and advanced on a throw that was too late to catch Valaika at the plate.

The Gauchos continued their offensive comeback in the eighth inning after Washington made a pitching change and brought in reliever Keaton Everitt. After a Gaucho groundout, it was once again up to Malec to jumpstart the Santa Barbara offense. He did so by doubling down the right field line, and scored to cut the lead to 5-3 on a Rowe double, which was preceded by a Wilkerson single. With Wilkerson at third, the Huskies once again went to their bullpen, this time summoning Matt Hague to stop the scoring. Hague, a freshman out of Kent, Wash., had all the right stuff to get the job done--causing Valaika to pop up to short and striking out Emerick to close the inning.

The Gauchos managed to carry their early eighth inning momentum into the ninth and scored another two runs to knot the score at five apiece. Headed into the top of the ninth and holding a 5-3 lead, the Huskies brought in right-hander Josh Conover to close the door on the Gauchos. After striking out pinch hitter Brian Lee and hitting Matt Stevens, Conover struck out the hot-hitting Figoni to record the second out of the inning. After a Matt Aidem single and a walk to Malec, the bases were loaded and the Gauchos were threatening. With the tying run at second base, coach Bob Brontsema decided to pinch run for Aidem with Travis LeBouf. Following a bases loaded walk to Wilkerson, the Huskies brought in the starting right fielder Johnson who in turn walked Rowe to even the score at five. Freshman Brandon McKerney (1-0) got the final out in the inning and picked up his first career win when the UW scored in the bottom of the final frame.

In the bottom of the ninth, Johnson, who has reached base in all nine of his plate appearances in the series, walked to lead off. A sacrifice bunt from Mike Rundle advanced him to second, but Lillibridge struck out for the second out. Larsen followed with a single to left and Johnson scored without a throw to win it.

Gaucho third baseman Figoni extended his current hit streak to 11 games with a single in the third inning.

Fraser (1-2) picked up the loss for the Gauchos on the mound.

With the loss, Santa Barbara falls to 8-8 on the year. The Gauchos will try to avoid a second consecutive series sweep on Sunday in a 1:00 p.m. game at Husky Ballpark.