April 22, 2007

Gauchos Drop Rubber Match to No. 18 Irvine, 7-6

April 22, 2007

Box Score

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - After inclement weather delayed the first pitch for almost two hours, the visiting Anteaters took an early lead at UCSB's Caesar Uyesaka Stadium on Sunday afternoon. The Gauchos came within one of tying the game twice but nationally ranked Irvine emerged victorious, 7-6. Patrick Rose led Santa Barbara, going 2-for-4 with a home run and two RBI. Eric Pettis earned the win for UCI, giving up three earned runs in 5.2 innings pitched.

The Gauchos drop to 17-20 overall and 5-4 in the Big West Conference while the Anteaters take the series and improve to 28-11 and 7-5 in the Big West with the win.

After leaving a runner stranded in the top of the first, the Anteaters got on the board first the next inning. With two outs, Irvine third baseman Tyler Vaughn sent a home run over the scoreboard in left field, giving UCI a 1-0 advantage.

Irvine had a successful third inning, plating five runs to go up 6-0. With the bases loaded, left fielder Matt Morris drove in center fielder Ollie Linton, who had reached on a single to right, and shortstop Ben Orloff, who also had a hit to right. With two runners on, right fielder Bryan Peterson hit the ball down the first baseline, which UCSB first baseman Robbie Blauer bobbled allowing Peterson to reach first and second baseman Cody Cipriano to come home.

With Morris and Peterson in scoring position, Vaughn struck again with a hit to left field to plate the two runners. After Vaughn's hit and five runs coming across the plate, Braun and the Gauchos got the final two outs of the third with a strike out and ground out to end Irvine's high-scoring half-inning.

Santa Barbara also had success in their end of the third inning, scoring two runs. Shortstop Shane Carlson doubled to left to lead off the inning. Center fielder Chris Fox followed that with a single to left, moving Carlson to third. Third baseman Patrick Rose brought Carlson home with a sacrifice fly to center field. Left fielder Mike Zuanich had UCSB's second double of the inning, which scored Fox and brought the Gauchos within four, 6-2.

Braun held the Irvine offense to the minimum following its five-run third inning and neither team scored again until the bottom of the fifth inning. With one out, Rose struck the third pitch he saw from Pettis down the left-field line for a round-tripper to cut Irvine's lead to three, 6-3.

The Gauchos capitalized on errors in the bottom of the sixth to tack on two more runs. Designated hitter Cody Dee reached second on an error by Cipriano at second to begin the inning and after walking, catcher Chris McMurray moved to second on an error by the pitcher. Second baseman Matt Valaika hit into the double play but it was not completely disastrous for the Gauchos for it brought Dee around to score. With two outs, Carlson singled to left to plate McMurray and bring the score to 6-5, still in favor of the Anteaters.

Braun and the Gauchos did not allow any hits innings four through eight, facing just one batter over the minimum. That changed in the top of the ninth when Irvine catcher Aaron Lowenstein began the inning with a double off UCSB relief pitcher Justin Segal that went down the first baseline just beyond the grasp of Blauer. Linton followed with a single to second base to move Lowenstein to third base. First baseman Taylor Holliday reached first with a bunt single and Lowenstein came around to add an insurance run for UCI. Segal and the Gauchos successfully closed out the inning without any more damage.

Carlson got things started for the Gauchos in the bottom of ninth with a single to second base. Rose moved Carlson to third with a two-out single to center. Blauer got his first hit of the game after Rose with a hit to center for an RBI, plating Carlson. Mike Zuanich walked on four pitches to load the bases but Irvine relief pitcher Dylan Axelrod, who came in after Carlson's hit, got Matt Anderson to fly out to end the game.

Jeff Braun got the loss for the Gauchos, pitching eight innings, giving up six runs on six hits while Pettis (1-0) got his first collegiate win. Axelrod earned the save for the Anteaters.

The Gauchos travel to Northridge next weekend for a conference series with the Matadors.