April 30, 2008
SANTA BARBARA, CALIF. - UC Santa Barbara experienced another ninth-inning grand slam, only this time it was on the losing end. After Pepperdine (27-13) tied the game at 3-3 in the top of the ninth with a two-RBI double, center fielder Eric Thames launched his 13th home run of the year, a grand slam high over the center field wall to cap a six-run ninth for the Waves. Three days after winning a thriller against Cal Poly with a ninth-inning grand slam of their own, UCSB (29-14) was dealt their 14th loss of the season in an eerily similar fashion.
The Gauchos entered the final frame with a 3-1 lead, but were unable to close things out. A stellar seven-inning one-run effort from starter Michael Martin, followed by a scoreless eighth from reliever Kyle Brown put UCSB in perfect position to win their third game in a row.
Zach Samuels was summoned to pitch the ninth, but retired only one Wave he faced, allowing a game-tying two-RBI double to pinch hitter Nate Simon. With one out and one runner on, junior transfer Patrick McIntyre was called upon to quell the Wave rally and maintain the tie heading into the bottom of the ninth. McIntyre allowed a single and then waked the next batter he faced, before surrendering the crippling blow to Thames.
The Gauchos were first on the board, scoring a run in the bottom of the first courtesy of Eric Oliver's third home run of the year. With two out and nobody on, Oliver belted a 2-1 offering from Wave starter Robert Dickmann high over the left field scoreboard.
Pepperdine was quick to tie things up, scoring a run in the top of the second on a Donald Brown RBI single up the middle.
The score would remain tied 1-1 until the bottom of the seventh. With runners on second and third with two outs, Chris Fox dumped a ball into shallow right field past the outstretched arm of Waves second baseman Denny Duron. Fox's two-RBI single scored Gunnar Terhune and Steve Cook to give the Gauchos a 3-1 lead.
After a perfect eighth from Brown, the Gauchos were unable to seal the deal, as the Waves collected six runs on five hits in the final frame.
Pepperdine reliever Nick Gaudi retired the side in order in the bottom of the ninth to secure the come-from-behind win for the Waves.
Martin allowed one run on eight hits in seven innings of work, striking out five and walking only one in the no-decision.
Tyler Hess (2-0) earned the win, pitching a 1.1 innings of scoreless relief.
Fox led the way offensively for the Gauchos going 2-for-4 with two RBI. Oliver provided the only other UCSB run with his first-inning solo shot.
UCSB resumes play Friday, May 2 against Big West rival Cal State Fullerton. The series opener begins at 2:00 p.m. at Caesar Uyesaka Stadium. Mike Ford (5-3) mans the bump for the Gauchos and will be opposed by Titan right-hander Jeff Kaplan.
The crucial three-game weekend series pits the first place Titans (11-4 BWC) against the second place Gauchos (8-4 BWC).