March 29, 2008

UCSB Wins Thriller in Bottom of the Ninth, 8-7.

March 29, 2008

Box Score

Santa Barbara, Calif. - Chris Fox's walk-off RBI single in the bottom of the ninth propelled the UC Santa Barbara Gauchos (17-7, 2-0) to their fifth straight victory as they defeated Cal State Northridge (10-12, 0-2) 8-7 on Saturday at Caesar Uyesaka Stadium. After Northridge tied the game in the top of the eighth, the Gauchos refused to go into extra innings, rallying with two outs in the bottom of the ninth to win a wild one.

The Gauchos and Matadors combined for 25 hits, eight errors, and 22 runners left on base in Saturday's four-hour thriller.

With two down and nobody on second baseman Steve Cook started the ninth inning rally by lining a base hit into right field. Brian Gump singled up the middle in the ensuing at-bat, as Cook raced around to third, putting runners on the corners. Chris Fox strolled to the plate looking to add to his already impressive 3-for-5, 3 RBI performance, and he delivered in a big way. The Redondo Beach, Calif., native laced the first pitch he saw from Matador closer Edwin Quirarte up the middle, scoring Cook for the walk-off victory. Fox's fourth hit of the day was also his fourth RBI as the designated hitter pushed his season average to a lofty .391.

The Gauchos gained an early 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first as Fox singled in Gump to get the scoring started.

The Matadors would strike back roughing up Gaucho starter Mario Hollands (3-1) in the third. A walk, four straight singles, a hit batsmen, another walk, and an RBI groundout plated five runs for the Matadors, as they took a 5-1 lead heading into the fourth.

The Gauchos had their pitchers back, scoring twice in the fourth, once in the fifth, and three times in the sixth to regain the lead, 7-5.

Hollands settled down after the third retiring seven straight Matadors eventually allowing a bunt single in the top of the sixth. Hollands went six innings allowing five runs on seven hits, while striking out two and walking three. Saturday's effort marked the fifth time in six starts to begin the year that the redshirt freshman pitched at least six innings.

Mike Zuanich repeated his stellar performance on Friday with another two-run homerun to the deepest part of the yard. After Eric Oliver led off the inning with a single, Zuanich unloaded on a Phil Hann offering, driving the ball deep over the centerfield wall to bring the Gauchos within two, 5-3.

Hann (1-3) lasted 5.2 innings allowing seven runs (four earned) on 10 hits, while striking out two and walking none.

After the Gauchos plated a run on another RBI hit from Fox in the fifth, Robby Cummings got the sixth inning rally started with an RBI single up the middle. With runners on second and third, Fox delivered his third RBI hit of the game, dumping a single into left field, to bring Cummings home. Oliver followed Fox with an RBI single of his own, ripping a pitch up the middle to put the Gauchos in front 7-5 after six innings of play.

The Matadors knotted things up at seven apiece by scoring twice in the top of the eighth courtesy of two hits and two Gaucho errors.

Zach Samuels came on in relief of Kyle Brown, retiring both batters he faced to preserve the 7-7 tie heading into the bottom of the ninth.

That's when the resilient Gauchos rallied with two outs to steal game two of the three game series from Northridge.

Fox was 4-for-6 on the day with four RBI. Oliver went 3-for-5 with a run scored and one RBI, while Brian Gump scored three times in a 2-for-5 effort.

Zach Samuels (1-1) earned the win, while Quirarte suffered the loss.

UCSB resumes play tomorrow, March 30 at 1:00 p.m. as they look to sweep the three game series against Cal State Northridge.

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