May 11, 2007
Santa Barbara, Calif. - Despite out-hitting 16th-ranked Long Beach State, the UC Santa Barbara baseball team suffered an 8-3 loss Friday at Caesar Uyesaka Stadium in the opening contest of a three-game Big West Conference series. The Dirtbags plated a pair of runs in the first inning and never relinquished the lead as starter Manny McElroy pitched seven strong innings.
UCSB, which has won its last two Big West series, dropped to 21-23 overall and 9-7 in league play. First-place Long Beach won its 10th consecutive game to improve to 32-14 and 11-2.
First baseman Robbie Blauer went 3-for-5 with a double and an RBI for the Gauchos, upping his season average to .395. Third baseman Patrick Rose, right fielder Mario Lewis, and left fielder Mike Zuanich each contributed two hits as UCSB held a 12-9 advantage in hits. Rose's two knocks put him at .302 on the season and the Gauchos now boast five starters hitting over .300. Freshman second baseman Matt Valaika homered for the third time in as many games, while shortstop Shane Carlson recorded his third triple of the year.
Senior Brian Tracy (1-3) started on the mound for UCSB and allowed six runs (five earned) on five hits while walking seven in 4.2 innings of work. Relievers Kyle Brown, Bryan Fleming, and Justin Aspegren gave up two runs on four hits the rest of the way. Aspegren retired the side in order in the ninth inning.
For the Dirtbags, McElroy (5-1) surrendered two runs on nine hits while striking out one and walking three over seven innings. Offensively, first baseman Shane Peterson led the way for Long Beach, going 3-for-4 with two RBI and a walk. An RBI single in the first inning extended his hit streak to 22 games. Six other players had one hit apiece.
Long Beach took an early 2-0 lead in the top of the first, aided by two walks and a hit batter. Peterson's single to left plated TJ Mittelstaedt and a sacrifice fly by Robert Perry scored Matt Cline.
The Gauchos got on the board with a run in the bottom of the third when center fielder Chris Fox hit a sacrifice fly to right, scoring Carlson, who had reached on a triple to the gap in left-center. However, the Dirtbags came right back with one in the top of the fourth, three more in the fifth, and another single run in the sixth to take a 7-1 lead. Valaika's two-out home run in the sixth got one back for UCSB, but Chris Nelson went yard in the seventh to put Long Beach back up by six runs.
In the UCSB half of the ninth, Rose smacked a leadoff single and stole second. Blauer drove him in with a double down the left field line, but Long Beach reliever David Roberts retired the next three batters to end the game.
The Gauchos left 12 runners on base while the Dirtbags stranded 11.
Game two of the series is slated for a 1 p.m. start Saturday at Caesar Uyesaka. UCSB is scheduled to start Mike Ford (2-1), while Long Beach State will send Andrew Liebel (7-2) to the hill.