Gauchos Score Three Runs in the Eighth, Complete Comeback to Take Game Two 9-8

March 10, 2007

Box Score

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - UCSB (6-8) posted one run in the bottom of the seventh and three more in the eighth inning to complete a comeback and defeat Cal State Northridge (11-12) by a count of 9-8 on Saturday in game two of a three-game non-conference series being played at Caesar Uyesaka Stadium this weekend.

Five Gauchos tallied two or more hits in the victory, led by junior Chris Fox's three-for-five performance with a homerun, two runs scored and two RBI. For Fox, the homer was his first of the season. Senior Robbie Blauer continued his hot hitting, extending his current hitting streak to fifteen games with a three-for-four day including two doubles, a walk, a run scored and an RBI. Junior Mike Zuanich batted three-for-four with a double, two runs scored and three RBI on the day. Freshman Matt Valaika also contributed a double, finishing two-for-five with two RBI. Senior right fielder Mario Lewis rounded out the multi-hit performers on the day, batting two-for-five with two runs scored in the victory.

Gaucho starter Jeff Braun lasted only four innings before giving way to right-hander Brian Tracy. Braun surrendered seven runs (five earned) on eight hits in the no decision. Tracy tossed the next inning and a third, allowing only a single run on two hits and two walks while striking out one. Junior left-hander Chuck Huggins, the game's eventual winning pitcher, threw the final three and two-thirds, allowing only one hit and a walk while punching out two batters to improve his record to 2-0 on the season.

First baseman Jorge Andrade, Jr. led the Matadors offensively, batting two-for-four with a double and three RBI on the day. Jason Dabbs also contributed two hits for Northridge, finishing two-for-four with a run scored.

Matador starter Jimmy Jolicoeur pitched the first seven innings of the game for Northridge, allowing six runs on fourteen hits and striking out one batter. Brian Slover took over and threw a third of an inning, allowing three runs on three hits and striking out one to earn the loss. For Slover, the loss was his first of the season. Matador closer Edwin Quirarte threw the final two-thirds of the eighth, walking two batters and blowing the save opportunity.

The Gauchos got on the board first in the first with two out. Blauer connected for his first double of the game before being plated by a Zuanich single one play later.

Northridge wasted no time answering back, plating two runs on three hits and an error in the top of the second inning. A one-out single by Kris Kasarjian got the ball rolling for the Matadors. After an infield single put runners at first and second, Dabbs lined out for the second out of the inning. On the ensuing play, Anthony Reed hit what looked to be a routine ground ball to Patrick Rose at third base. Instead, the ball hit off Rose's glove and trickled away to run the bases full. Amiel Traynum made the error hurt on the very next play, sending a two-RBI single into centerfield to give Northridge the 2-1 advantage.

The Matadors added two more runs in the top of the third, this time the big blow coming off a two-RBI double by Andrade, Jr. A Jon Sakurai single and stolen base put a runner at second with no one out before Braun managed to get Todd Shelton to fly out to right field for the first out of the inning. After a hit-by-pitch put runners at first and second, Andrade, Jr. drove a pitch over the head of Fox in centerfield to clear the bases.

UCSB regained the lead with four runs in the bottom of the third. Sophomore Shane Carlson was hit by a pitch to start the inning before moving to second on a Rose groundout. Fox followed with his first blast of the season over the right field wall to plate the first two runs of the inning. Lewis got things going again one batter later when he singled to short right field. After a fly out, Zuanich doubled to right centerfield to plate Lewis and set the table for the hitters to come. Two batters later, Valaika singled to right field to plate Zuanich and give UCSB the slim 5-4 advantage.

The Matadors plated a run in the fourth, two in the fifth and one in the sixth to take an 8-5 lead into the bottom of the seventh. Dabbs singled to start the fourth inning before moving to third on a wild pitch and a groundout. On the ensuing play, Traynum grounded out to shortstop to plate the run. Shelton singled to leadoff the fifth before scoring on a double by C.J. Belanger that spelled an end to Braun's day on the hill for the Gauchos. Tracy then surrendered an Andrade, Jr. single to score Belanger. A Reed walk started the sixth inning for the Matadors. After a stolen base and a sacrifice bunt moved Reed to third, he scored on a Richard Cates single to left field. Cates had originally taken over for Sakurai at the end of the Matador fourth inning after Sakurai was ejected for arguing with home plate umpire Mike Ostini.

The Gauchos chipped-away at the Matador lead, plating one run in the bottom of the seventh to run the score to 8-6. After a Blauer single to start the inning, Zuanich reached on a fielder's choice to force out Blauer. After an Anderson strikeout, Valaika doubled into left centerfield to score Zuanich.

UCSB took the eventual game-winning lead with three runs in the bottom of the eighth. Pinch hitter Brian Gump led off with a single up the middle. After a strikeout for the first out of the inning, Fox singled to shortstop to put runners at first and second. Lewis followed with an infield single to load the bases. Quirarte came on to face Blauer with the bases full and walked the hot-hitting first baseman. Zuanich followed with a second-straight walk to plate the second run of the inning. On the ensuing play, pinch hitter Cody Dee lifted a deep fly ball to left field to score the game-winning run.

Huggins tossed a hitless ninth inning to close the door on the Matadors and seal the 9-8 comeback victory. UCSB and Northridge will conclude the three-game series tomorrow at 1 p.m. Freshman right-hander Mike Ford is slated to make the start for the Gauchos. Junior right-hander Phillip Hann is scheduled to start for the Matadors.