April 29, 2007

Gauchos Edge Cal State Northridge in Rubber Match, 5-4

April 29, 2007

Box Score

NORTHRIDGE, Calif. - Freshman second baseman Matt Valaika clouted a two-run home run to cap a four-run uprising in the sixth inning and senior left hander Jeff Braun hurled 7.1 solid innings as visiting UC Santa Barbara overcame an early deficit to claim a 5-4 win at Cal State Northridge on Sunday afternoon.

CSUN claimed early control of the game by scoring a pair of runs off of Braun in the bottom of the first. Second baseman Jon Sakurai opened the frame with a double to right and he was pushed to third by a sacrifice from right fielder C.J. Belanger. Sakurai then scored when first baseman Jorge Andrade, Jr., clubbed a double down the left field line. After a groundball out, Andrade was driven home on a single to left by designated hitter Brian Slover to give the Matadors a 2-0 lead.

UCSB did not score until the third inning when it tallied a run on a pair of hits. Shortstop Shane Carlson walked to open the frame. He moved to second on a ground out by center fielder Chris Fox. Third baseman Pat Rose then singled on a high-hopper to Matador third baseman Richard Cates and runners were at first and third. First baseman Robbie Blauer then doubled off the wall in center to score Carlson.

Northridge got the run back in the bottom of the fifth when Sakurai belted a home run to deep left field. It was his first round tripper of the season.

The Gauchos exploded for four runs in the decisive sixth inning. First baseman Robbie Blauer singled to left to start the rally. Hot-hitting left fielder Mike Zuanich then drove a double into right field, advancing Blauer to third. Designated hitter Cody Dee drove home a run on a groundout, moving Zuanich to third. Catcher Chris McMurray then brought Zuanich home with a line-drive single up the middle. McMurray's hit tied the score at 3-3 and it set the table for Valaika who, one out later, belted a two-run home run to give UCSB a 5-3 lead.

CSUN fought back with a run in the bottom of the seventh. Center fielder Amiel Traynum drew a walk from Braun. He moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by catcher John Parham and, after an infield single by left fielder Alex Bardeguez, Traynum scored on a single by shortstop Todd Shelton.

The Gauchos fought-off a Matador challenge in the bottom of the ninth.

With UCSB relief ace Justin Segal on the mound, Bardeguez opened the ninth inning by reaching on an error. He moved to second when shortstop Todd Shelton was hit by a pitch. Segal then tried to pick-off Shelton and he threw the ball wild, allowing the runners to move to second and third. After Sakurai grounded out, with the runners holding, the Gauchos brought in Kyle Brown.

Brown walked right fielder C.J. Belanger, the first batter he faced. He was then pulled in favor of senior Steve Morlock, who began the year as the Gauchos' number-one starter. As a freshman Morlock had one of the finest seasons as a reliever in school history and on Sunday, he induced Jorge Andrade, Jr., to ground into a game-ending double play.

Braun pitched 7.1 innings to earn the win for UCSB. He dis now 2-6 on the season. Edwin Quirarte, who tossed 5.2 innings for the Matadors, is also 2-6.

The 5-4 win gives UCSB a 19-21 overall record and a Big West mark of 7-5. Cal State Northridge falls to 14-30 overall and 2-10 in the Big West. The Gauchos will travel to Cal State Fullerton next weekend. The Gauchos will play the Titans for a three-game series beginning Friday, May 4.