May 11, 2001
Fullerton, Calif. - 23rd-ranked UC Santa Barbara handed top-ranked Cal State Fullerton just its third loss in the last 27 games and moved to within one game of the Big West Conference leader with a 7-1 victory at Goodwin Field Friday night. The Gauchos (36-12, 10-3) used a brilliant performance by starting pitcher James Garcia and a relentless offensive attack to take the first game of the conference series from the Titans (38-13, 11-2).
Garcia went the distance, his fifth complete game of the season and fourth in five Big West starts, holding the Titans to one run on four hits while striking out seven and walking two. The win boosted Garcia's record to 10-1 and lowered his ERA to 2.48. The Torrance native becomes the first UCSB pitcher to win ten games since current Gaucho pitching coach Tom Myers did it in 1991. The Gaucho offense also did its share, scoring nine runs and pounding 15 hits, including four doubles and a homer.
After going down 1-2-3 in the top of the first, the Gauchos struck quickly in the second inning to take a 1-0 lead. Dave Molidor, the Big West's leading hitter, led off with a sharp single to left. Tyler Von Schell then hit a double off the left field wall to score Molidor. With two men retired on strikeouts, Donovan Warrecker narrowly missed hitting his second home run of the season, as Cal State Fullerton center fielder Chris Stringfellow rand hard to the left center field gap to make a leaping grab, robbing the Gaucho catcher and ending the inning. Two Gaucho hits in the third were erased by a failed sacrifice attempt and a successful pickoff move by Fullerton pitcher Jon Smith.
The hosts evened the score at one run apiece in the bottom half when the leadoff batter, whom Garcia hit, scored on a one-out sacrifice fly to center.
The Gauchos then tagged Smith for a three-spot in the fourth. Von Schell led off the inning by lacing a single to left. With two down, Von Schell got hung up between first and second on a pickoff move, but the first base umpire called a balk, sending him to second. Warrecker then sprayed a run-scoring double right field line. Andy Campanella followed with a walk, to put Gaucho runners at first and second. Skip Schumaker then doubled to the gap in left center, sneaking the ball beneath the glove of a diving Stringfellow, to score both men. The Gaucho rally ended when Ryan Spilborghs fouled out to first base.
Chad Peshke made it 5-1 UCSB when he hit an 0-1 pitch well over the left field fence as the first Gaucho batter in the fifth, for his fourth home run of the season. Molidor the flew out to the warning track in center. With two down, Jeff Bannon narrowly missed connecting on a long ball of his own, when the Fullerton left fielder made a leaping grab to pull down the warning track shot.
Meanwhile, Gaucho starter James Garcia continued to roll, getting Fullerton 1-2-3 in the fifth. He recorded his fifth strikeout of the game for the second out of the inning. The Gaucho ace then got second baseman David Bacani, who had the only two Titan hits at that point, to fly out to left to end the inning. Garcia made it six straight men retired by getting the first two Fullerton batters in the sixth. A single to right and bunt single to third followed, putting men on first and second. However, first baseman Von Schell then snagged a screamer hit right at him and trotted to the bag to dispel any rumors of a Titan rally.
After the Gauchos went down in order for a second straight time in the seventh, Garcia came right back to get the Titans 1-2-3 in both the seventh and eighth.
UCSB added two backbreaking runs in the eighth to make it a 7-1 advantage. With two outs and two men on, Warrecker hit a laser to center that went for two bases and scored Von Schell and Bannon. The double was Warrecker's second of the game. Bob Brontsema's team chased Fullerton starter Smith after a one-out Von Schell single. Mike Nunez came on to throw 1.1 innings of relief before giving way to Sean Martin.
Right fielder Ryan Spilborghs added a bounding single to center in the ninth to extend his school record hitting streak to 27 games. Spilborghs came around to score on a Molidor single to left.
Von Schell led UCSB with three hits, while Schumaker, Peshke, Molidor and Warrecker added two knocks apiece. Warrecker also tallied a game-high three RBI.
Cal State Fullerton had not lost at home since a March 17 setback to Cal Poly. Friday also marked the first time the Titans had lost consecutive games since February 6. The win was UCSB's eighth in its last nine games.
The teams will play the second game of the Big West series tomorrow at 7:00 p.m.