March 8, 2008

Gauchos Score Twice in the Ninth to Win Comeback Effort, 9-7

March 8, 2008

Box Score

Houston, Texas - The UC Santa Barbara baseball team (8-4) showed their resiliency winning 9-7 in the ninth inning against University of Houston (7-5) on Saturday at Cougar Field. After squandering a four-run lead in the eighth, the Gauchos scored a pair of runs in the top of the ninth to take game two of the three-game set from the Cougars.

Riding a strong effort from redshirt freshman Mario Hollands, the Gaucho offense bounced back from yesterdays one run effort, scoring nine times on 13 hits on Saturday. Hollands pitched well enough to earn the win in his third start as a Gaucho, going seven innings, allowing three runs (one earned), on six hits, striking out three and walking none. The El Cerrito, Calif., native left the game with a 7-3 lead, giving way to Clayton Edwards in the eighth. A Gaucho error and four hits later, the Cougars stormed back to tie the game at seven a piece.

Determined not to go into extra innings, John DeAlba started the ninth inning rally with a lead off walk. Shane Carlson, the Gaucho's leading hitter entering the day, sacrificed DeAlba over to second base. Continuing his recent offensive tear, Matt Valaika doubled down the left field line to score DeAlba and give the Gauchos an 8-7 lead. Gump continued his career day by lining a single into right field to score Valaika from second to push the lead to two, 9-7. It was Gump's third RBI and fifth hit of the day.

A pair of runs in the top of the first got things started for the Gauchos. Brian Gump led off the game with a walk followed by a Chris Fox single through the left side, advancing Gump to third. An Eric Oliver groundout on the ensuing at-bat scored Gump to give UCSB a 1-0 lead. Fox would score two at-bats later on a throwing error from Cougar second baseman Ryan Lormand.

Gump laced an RBI single, his first of five hits on the day, to left field in the second inning to score Valaika, giving the Gauchos a 3-0 advantage.

Houston countered with two runs of their own in the third. A sac-fly from Blake Kelso and an RBI single from Jake Stewart cut the Gaucho lead to 3-2.

UCSB would continue to score, plating one in the fifth, two in the sixth, and one in the eighth. Consecutive RBI singles in the sixth inning from Gump and Fox gave the Gauchos a three run lead. Catcher Chris McMurray homered to deep left centerfield to lead off the eighth, extending the Gauchos cushion to four, 7-3.

Houston would not go down quietly, plating four runs in the eighth to tie things up. Matt Murphy started things off with a double, advanced to third on a wild pitch, and scored on a balk. RBI singles from Bryan Pounds and Austin Goolsby brought the Cougars within one. Third baseman Jimmy Cesario doubled home Lormand to tie the game at 7-7.

After the resilient Gauchos struck twice in the ninth to regain the lead, Kyle Brown and Zach Samuels combined to throw a scoreless ninth to secure the comeback win. Samuels faced two Cougars, striking out one, earning his first save of the season, while Brown earned the win, his first of the year.

Gump reached base safely in all six times he stepped to the plate, going a career-high 5-for-5 with a walk, two runs scored, three RBI, and two stolen bases. The center fielder pushed his season average to .413 in the process, good for first on the team. His two stolen bases pushed his team-leading total to a perfect 9-for-9.

Fox went 3-for-6 with a run scored and an RBI. Carlson extended his hitting streak to 12 games in a 1-for-4 effort. Valaika continued his surge going 2-for-5 with two doubles, two runs scored and an RBI.

Chuck Huggins gets the ball in the series finale tomorrow at 11:00 a.m. as the Gauchos attempt to take two of three from Houston.

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