May 9, 2009
FULLERTON, Calif. - UC Santa Barbara (26-19) was able to win both games of a Big West doubleheader against Long Beach State, but in far different ways. Joe Gardner threw a two-hitter in a 3-0 game one victory, and the Gaucho offense scored 14 runs behind Mario Hollands to win game two, 14-4.
Due to the Jesusita fire in Santa Barbara, the games were held at Cal State Fullerton's Goodwin Field. The loss of true home field advantage didn't seem to bother UCSB.
Gardner (7-1) pitched a complete game shutout to kick things off. He faced only three batters over the minimum, giving up two hits and one walk while striking out five. The shutout was the fourth time UCSB has held its opponent scoreless this year.
It was Gardner's second complete game as a Gaucho. His first took place April 24 against Cal Poly. Saturday's two-hitter is the fewest hits he has allowed in a game in which he pitched more than three innings. Gardner has struck out at least five batters in seven of his 11 starts this season.
Both Gardner and Long Beach State's Adam Wilk (7-2) went the distance in the opener. Wilk pitched well, allowing only three runs over eight innings on the way to his second loss of the season. The pitchers' duel lasted a mere two hours and 17 minutes.
First baseman Eric Oliver was the only player on either team with a multi-hit game. He matched LBSU's two hits and was responsible in some way for all three of UCSB's runs by scoring twice and knocking in the other.
The Gauchos scored twice in the first inning, which ended up being one run more than Gardner would need to win. After Brian Gump scored from first on Oliver's double, Ryan Cavan singled up the middle two batters later to score Oliver.
The only other run of the game came when Oliver walked with two outs in the third inning and scored on a Matt Valaika double.
Valaika was only getting warmed up in game one. He and the rest of the UCSB offense came up big in the second game.
Mario Hollands (5-5) had a tough act to follow on the mound in the nightcap, and he rose to the occasion. Hollands allowed just two earned runs and struck out five batters over seven innings to earn the win.
The Gauchos erupted for 14 runs on 16 hits. It marked the 22nd time this year that they scored nine runs or more.
Santa Barbara got on the board in the second inning when Shane Carlson's triple to right center scored Valaika. The next inning, Valaika hit his fifth home run of the year, a two-run shot that put his team up 5-0.
Valaika was an unstoppable force in the second game. He went 4-for-4 with four runs, four RBI, and a walk. His performance tied his career-highs in hits and RBI and set a new career-high in runs scored.
Shane Carlson also turned in a solid game two with three hits, two runs, three RBI, and a stolen base. He was part of a double steal with John DeAlba in the fifth inning that set up a two-run double by Mark Haddow.
Oliver continued to play well with another multi-hit game. Eight Gauchos recorded a hit in the game, and five had at least two hits.
Clayton Edwards closed out the game for UCSB with two strong innings of relief. He allowed only two hits and one run, and he struck out a pair of 49ers. It was the first earned run he's allowed in his last four outings. Over that stretch, he has given up three hits and struck out seven batters in six and a third innings.
Jake Thompson (4-6) took the loss for LBSU. He gave up the first five runs in three innings. UCSB scored against all five Long Beach pitchers it faced.
After enduring a six game losing streak, the Gauchos have bounced back by winning three in a row.
The three-game series will conclude Sunday at Goodwin Field at 1 p.m.
- UCSBgauchos.com -