May 2, 2004
LONG BEACH, Calif. - After the Gauchos blew a 4-0 lead in the eighth inning, senior third baseman Nate Sutton blasted a one-out solo home run in the top of the tenth inning to lead UCSB to a 5-4 victory and their first sweep over Long Beach State since 2000. UC Santa Barbara won its fourth straight Big West contest, its longest streak in two years, and its first conference series of the season as the Gauchos completed the three-game sweep against the No. 4 Dirtbags Sunday afternoon at Blair Field.
UCSB, who improves to 27-17 and 5-7 in the Big West, has now taken 11 of its last 15 games against the Beach and re-enters the Big West Confernce playoff race. Long Beach State falls to 30-12 and 9-3 in conference play.
The Beach mounted a rally in the bottom of the 10th, loading the bases against eventual winner, Ivan Ramirez (1-1) and Loren Fraser, before TJ Bruce's popup ended the game and gave Fraser his second save of the series. Neil Jamison (2-1) gave up the go-ahead run in the 10th, firing off the final two inning for the Dirtbags.
Santa Barbara batted around in the sixth, scoring four times to lead 4-0. UCSB benefitted from two hit by pitches and a walk in the inning. Sutton's one-out triple broke the scoreless tie, before Malec's RBIs single doubled the score. Greg Powers' two-run, two-out double made it 4-0.
The Beach came back to tie it at 4-4 in the eighth, with four runs on five hits, all with two outs. Jason Vargas' three-run, two-out homer off of Steve Morlock, chased the righthander from the game and made it 4-3. Mike Hofius then laced an RBI double off of reliever Nate Holguin to tie it at 4-4. Hofius was then thrown out on a close play at the plate as Tito Cruz's hit off the glove of Bill Rowe trickled into rightfield, before second baseman Chiris Malec retrieved it and hurled it toward home for the final out of the inning.
Sutton finished 2-for-5 with two runs scored and two RBI. Malec ended the game with three hits, while Hofius, Vargas and Josh Buhagiar each had two hits for LBSU. For the series, LBSU left 31 runners on base.
Morlock was solid through the first seven, scatting just three hits, going 7.2 innings today, giving up three runs on eight hits. Vargas countered by giving up four runs on four hits over 5.1 innings.
It was the 49ers first sweep in conference play since 2001, when they were swept at home against UC Irvine.
The three-game stretch also marks the first time the Gauchos have swept Long Beach State at home since 1987.
Over the three-game series, UCSB posted an impressive 2.89 ERA and scored 19 runs against the nation's second ranked pitching staff. More impressively, the relief trio of Alex McRobbie, Fraser and Ramirez combined for 10.2 scorless innings out of the bullpen. The trio allowed just nine hits and walked just three. UCSB's relief core picked up victories in two of the games with Nate Holguin improving to 1-0 on Friday and Ramirez getting the win today.
Freshman shortstop Chris Valaika finished a stellar weekend at the plate in which he went 5-for-12, scored four runs and knocked in two RBI. The two runs batted in came in the seventh inning of Saturday's game when he roped a two-out double off the center field wall scoring the eventual winning run.