April 20, 2000
Santa Barbara, Calif. -
On Sunday, the UC Santa Barbara baseball team lost a heart-breaking and emotional one-run game in the series finale against Cal Poly. On Thursday, the Gauchos were asked to bounce back against 16th-ranked Long Beach State, the first-place team in the Big West Conference, and bounce back they did.
UCSB used a complete game pitching performance by senior Gabe Neboyia and a 15-hit, three home run attack, to defeat the 49ers 12-6 at Caesar Uyesaka Stadium in Santa Barbara.
At the outset, things didn't look good for the Gauchos. Long Beach State jumped on Neboyia for a pair of runs in the top of the first inning. Shortstop Bobby Crosby lined a single to left field to open the game and following a ground ball out, left fielder Jeff Jones belted a two-run home run to left center field, giving the 49ers an early 2-0 lead. After another single, Neboyia got out of the inning and he would not allow another earned run until the top of the ninth.
UCSB responded in their half of the first inning. With two outs, second baseman Chad Peshke and third baseman Dave Molidor lined back-to-back singles to left field. On Molidor's base hit, Peshke moved to third base. Shortstop Jeff Bannon then smashed a triple to left center field, knotting the score at 2-2.
The 49ers reclaimed the lead in the top of the second. Third baseman Abel Orozco walked to lead things off and center fielder Robert Womack followed with a single to left. After a sacrifice bunt by second baseman A.J. LaBarbera, Crosby struck out looking for the second out. With runners on second and third, right fielder Chuck Lopez hit a bouncer to Peshke, but the second baseman couldn't handle it and the go-ahead run crossed the plate.
Once again, the Gauchos responded in their half of the inning. For the second straight inning, UCSB waited until there were two outs to make its mark. Left fielder Jeff Carter singled to left field and first baseman Mike Kolbach walked. Peshke then atoned for his error in the top half of the inning by crushing his first home run of the season, a three-run blast to left field, giving the Gauchos a 5-3 lead that they would never relinquish.
UCSB tacked on another run in the fourth on Peshke's third hit of the day, an RBI single to right that scored Carter who had been hit by a pitch and then moved to second on a single by Kolbach. The run made the score 6-3 Gauchos. Long Beach narrowed the margin to 6-4 with an unearned run in the top of the fifth.
Neither team scored again until the bottom the eighth when Santa Barbara put the game away with six runs. Catcher Jimmy Walker homered to left field to open the inning. One out later, Carter collected his second hit of the game, a single to right field. After a fly out to center field by Kolbach, Peshke got his fourth hit of the game, a line single to center field. Molidor then belted the Gauchos third home run of the game, a three-run shot to right field, giving his team a 10-4 lead. They added to more runs on a single by Bannon, a walk to designated hitter Tyler Von Schell and a two-run double by center fielder R.J. Smith.
The 49ers added a pair of runs in the top of the ninth, but it was too late and the Gauchos wound up with their biggest victory of the season, 12-6.
All but one UCSB starter collected at least one hit. Peshke led the way by going 4-for-5 with a home run, four RBI and three runs scored. Molidor, the Big West's fourth leading hitter, was 2-for-5 with a home run, three RBI and a pair of run scored. Carter, Bannon and Smith each added a pair of hits. In addition to his two hits, Smith, the center fielder, made the defensive play of the game in the fourth inning when he saved at least one run with an acrobatic, leaping catch of a fly ball on the track in deep left center field.
With the win, Neboyia is now 4-5 on the season. He pitched his second complete game of the campaign, allowing ten hits and four earned runs. The senior from Bishop, California struck out only two batters, including first baseman Ryan Clark looking to end the game, and he walked only a pair. Long Beach State starter Jeff Leuenberger went five innings and was saddled with his second loss of the season, he is now 4-2.
The Gauchos improve to 19-18 overall on the season, 9-7 in the Big West. The 49ers, who entered the day one-half game ahead of second place Cal State Fullerton, is now 25-14 overall and 13-4 in league play. The teams will play the second game of three game series tomorrow afternoon at 2:00 p.m. at Santa Barbara's Caesar Uyesaka Stadium.