April 27, 2007
NORTHRIDGE, Calif. - Left fielder Mike Zuanich had three hits, including a home run and a double, and drove in a career-high five runs, as visiting UC Santa Barbara (18-20 overall, 6-4 in the Big West) outslugged Cal State Northridge (13-29, 1-9) in the first game of a three-game Big West series on Friday.
Zuanich, who now has three home runs on the season, was one of three Gauchos to hit round-trippers in the win. Right fielder Mario Lewis hit his team-leading sixth home run and center fielder Chris Fox belted his third. The beneficiary of the run support was junior southpaw Chuck Huggins (6-1) who allowed four runs and six hits in 5.2 innings,
UCSB scored single runs in the first and second to take a 2-0 lead. The Matadors cut the lead to 2-1 with a run in the third, but then the Gauchos exploded for four runs in their half of the fourth to assume a 6-1 lead.
Fox led things off in the fourth with his home run and one out later shortstop Shane Carlson, who went 3-for-5 on the day, singled to center field. A single by third baseman Patrick Rose moved Carlson to second. After Lewis struck out, first baseman Robbie Blauer hit a grounder to Northridge shortstop Todd Shelton but Shelton couldn't handle it and the bases were loaded. Zuanich followed the miscue with a bases-clearing double. He was thrown out at third trying to stretch it into a triple.
The Matadors narrowed the gap to 6-4 with a pair of runs in the fifth and another in the sixth. The two in the fifth came on a home run by first baseman Jorge Andrade, Jr.
The Gauchos responded with three runs in the seventh and again the key blow was struck by Zuanich. Lewis walked to start the inning and after Blauer struck out, Zuanich hit a two-run home run. The next batter, pinch hitter Cody Dee, singled to center and one out later scored on a double by Fox. Lewis then homered in the eighth to extend the advantage to 10-4.
Meanwhile, reliever Kyle Brown was cruising in relief of Huggins. He pitched 2.1 innings and allowed just one hit and no walks.
In the top of the ninth, UCSB put another three on the board and again, Zuanich was in the middle of the rally. He led the inning off with a single. Brian Gump pinch ran for the Gaucho left fielder and after a fly ball out by Dee, catcher Chris McMurray singled to right field and Fox walked to lead the bases. Valaika, who tripled earlier in the game, drove home the first run in the ninth with a sacrifice fly. Carlson followed with his third hit of the game to plate McMurray and move Fox to second. Carlson and Fox each advanced on a wild pitch and then Fox scored on a single by Rose.
Northridge parlayed one hit, an error, two walks and a hit batsman for three runs in the bottom of the ninth, but reliever Justin Aspergren struck out left fielder Anthony Reed to squelch the rally and end the game.
UCSB and CSUN will play game two of the series on Saturday afternoon beginning at 1:00 p.m. at Matador Field. Freshman Mike Ford, coming off of a win over nationally-ranked UC Irvine, will take the hill for the Gauchos.