April 28, 2007

Gauchos Lose Heartbreaker to Cal State Northridge, 6-5

April 28, 2007

Box Score

NORTHRIDGE, Calif. - UC Santa Barbara was on the brink of winning its second straight game from Cal State Northridge, but the Matadors scored a pair of runs in the bottom of the ninth inning to escape with a narrow 6-5 Big West victory on Saturday afternoon.

After taking an early 3-0 lead, the Matadors found themselves trailing in the bottom of the ninth. Northridge started a rally against Gaucho closer Justin Segal in the final frame, leading up to a game winning, walk off single off the bat of Richard Cates. Joe Rocchio earned a complete game victory for the Matadors, who ended a nine-game slide and earned their second Big West win.

Joe Rocchio got the call for the Matadors and Mike Ford took the ball for the Gauchos, and each answered the call early. Ford had a tense outing to start, allowing runners to get into scoring position with no result in each of his first two innings, but Northridge managed a pair of runs in the third, with Richard Cates and Brian Slover each notching RBI hits. In the fourth, it was Jonathan Sakurai smacking a single through the left side to cash in Amiel Traynum's walk. Ford didn't allow another Matador to score in the fifth or sixth, and was chased in the seventh in favor of Steve Morlock.

Rocchio also worked his way out of jams in each of the first three innings, allowing runners into scoring position each time before getting away unscathed. Rocchio retired the Gauchos in order in the fourth, and after surrendering four in the fifth, settled back down for scoreless frames in the sixth and seventh before allowing the Gauchos to plate the go-ahead run in the eighth.

The Matadors got on the board again in the seventh, with Sakurai stealing a base and scampering over to third on a C.J. Belanger ground out, bringing Jorge Andrade, Jr. up with two outs and a man on third. Morlock failed to get the Matador slugger, with Andrade, Jr. slapping an RBI single through the left side to knot the score at four.

Justin Segal came out of the bullpen for the Gauchos in the eighth, and managed to get Brian Slover on a ground out before consecutive base hits from Jowen-James Murray-Thornton and Amiel Traynum. Segal got Billy Swanson to ground into a double play to end the Matador threat.

Rocchio, remaining in the game for the ninth, kept UCSB off the board, setting up a comeback opportunity for the Matadors in the bottom of the ninth.

Segal allowed a pinch hit single to Todd Shelton to start off the ninth, but Sakurai failed to lay down a sacrifice bunt and instead struck out swinging. Belanger followed with a walk, pushing Sakurai into position for Andrade, Jr., who popped out to the second baseman.

Cates got the chance to be a hero with two outs and runners in scoring position, and the sophomore from Yuba City delivered a chopper up the middle that allowed Shelton to come around, and a slight mishandle on the part of Gaucho center fielder Chris Fox brought C.J. Belanger in for the winning run.

Fox paced the Gauchos with a pair of hits in four at bats. Designated htter Cody Dee had a team-leading two RBIs.

The Gauchos will try to get back on the winning track on Sunday when they play the Matadors in the series finale at 1:00 p.m. at Matador Field. UCSB has already won four of five games from Cal State Northridge this season. The first three victories were non-conference gaems.

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