Gauchos Top Cal State Northridge in Game One, 6-2

March 9, 2007

Box Score

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - Senior right-hander Steve Morlock scattered twelve hits in seven and a third innings pitched to earn his second win of the season as UCSB (5-8) defeated Big West foe Cal State Northridge (11-11) 6-2 in non-conference action at Caesar Uyesaka Stadium on Friday.

Freshman Matt Valaika led the Gauchos offensively, batting two-for-three with two runs scored and an RBI on the day. Senior Robbie Blauer also contributed two hits in the game, finishing two-for-four with a double, a walk, a run scored and an RBI. With the hits, Blauer extended his hitting streak to fourteen games stretching back to the last game of the 2006 campaign. In addition, the Huntington Beach, Calif. native raised his average to a team-high .453. Junior Mike Zuanich also collected a game-high two RBI in the victory.

In his seven and a third innings pitched, Morlock scattered twelve hits and surrendered two runs (one earned) while striking out three hitters and walking two. With the win, the native of Kentfield, Calif. improved two 2-3 on the season. Senior Justin Segal wasted no time adding to his career record in appearances and collecting his first save of the year, contributing a perfect inning and two-thirds of work while striking out one. In addition, Segal got the Gauchos out of a tough jam in the top of the eighth, inducing a double-play groundball to end the inning.

Catcher John Parham led the Matador offense, batting three-for-five with an RBI on the day. Northridge used a total of seven pitchers in the game, including six in the three-run bottom of the eighth for the Gauchos. Matador starter Joe Rocchio had a decent outing on the hill, lasting six innings and surrendering three runs on ten hits and two walks en route to being tagged with the loss. For Rocchio, the loss dropped his record to 1-2.

The Matadors got on the board early, plating a single run in the top of the first. After a leadoff groundout by Jon Sakurai, C.J. Belanger doubled to short centerfield and moved to third when shortstop Shane Carlson bobbled the ball trying to return it to the infield. On the ensuing play, Parham singled down the right field line to plate Belanger and give Northridge the early 1-0 advantage.

UCSB would not trail for long, posting two runs of its own in the bottom half of the inning. With one out, senior Mario Lewis was hit by a pitch and then stole second base. Blauer followed with a flair that fell for a double down the left field line to move runners to second and third. Zuanich took advantage of the opportunity to hit with runners in scoring position, singling home both runners and claiming the lead for the Gauchos.

Northridge knotted the game at two runs apiece with another run in the top of the second. After a strikeout to start the inning, Amiel Traynum singled to get the ball rolling. After a groundout moved Traynum to second, Belanger walked to put runners at first and second. Parham laid down a bunt for a hit on the ensuing play, and third baseman Gunnar Terhune made a throwing error trying to catch the speedy runner at first. The errant throw allowed Traynum to trot home to even the score at two.

The Gauchos took the lead once again in the sixth with a single run. Valaika led off with a single before stealing second base. A Chris McMurray hit put runners at the corners with no one out before a ground ball by Terhune plated Valaika and gave UCSB the 3-2 advantage.

UCSB plated three insurance runs without the benefit of a hit in the bottom of the eighth. Senior Matt Anderson was hit by a pitch to start the inning before head coach Bob Brontsema used junior Patrick Rose as a pinch-runner at first base. On the ensuing play, Valaika was hit by a pitch to put runners at first and second. Reliever Phillip Hann was called out of the Matador bullpen, and he quickly made a throwing error on a bunt by McMurray while trying to force out Rose at third base. As a result, both Rose and Valaika crossed the plate to give UCSB a little added breathing room. Back-to-back strikeouts seemed to spell an end to the Gaucho rally, but Northridge once again decided to go to the bullpen to face junior Chris Fox. Facing left-hander Bobby Paschal, Fox walked and McMurray swiped third base on ball four to put runners at the corners with two out. Next out of the Matador bullpen was Eric Billings. Billings quickly walked Lewis to load the bases before giving way to Josh Herback-South. Herback-South followed suit, issuing a four-pitch free pass to Blauer to plate the final Gaucho run of the game. Steven DeFratus threw only one pitch to end the Gaucho eighth, getting Zuanich to fly out to centerfield to leave the bases loaded.

Segal tossed an uneventful ninth inning, inducing a foul-out, a fly ball to left field and finally striking out Parham to end the game and earn the save. UCSB and Northridge will continue the three-game non-conference series tomorrow at 1 p.m. Left-hander Jeff Braun is slated to take the hill for the Gauchos. Jimmy Jolicoeur is expected to pitch for the Matadors.