May 16, 2007
LOS ANGELES, Calif. - USC scored three runs in the bottom of the second inning to break a scoreless tie and then fought back several UC Santa Barbara rallies en route to a 7-5 non-conference win at Dedeaux Field on Wednesday night. Despite the defeat, three Gauchos extended long hitting streaks on the night.
USC (26-23) broke through first, as it scored three runs off of UCSB (21-26) in the bottom of the second. With senior right hander Bryan Fleming (1-3) on the mound, first baseman J.J. Owen and center fielder Nick Buss collected back-to-back singles to open the frame and each came home when the next batter, catcher Robert Stock doubled down the right field line. Stock moved to third on a sacrifice by third baseman Hector Estrella and following a walk to right fielder Roberto Lopez, he scored on a fly ball to right field by leadoff hitter Matt Cusick.
The Gauchos cut the lead with a pair of runs off of Anthony Vasquez (3-6) in the top of the third and in the process they extended three lengthy hitting streaks. With two outs, center fielder Chris Fox bunted for a single, extending his hitting streak to 19 straight games. Second baseman Patrick Rose advanced Fox to second with a single up the middle, lengthening his hitting streak to 14 in a row. First baseman Robbie Blauer extended his streak to 16 in a row and drove Fox home with a single to center field. After left fielder Mike Zuanich walked to load the bases, designated hitter Steve Domecus was hit by a pitch, forcing Rose home with the second run of the inning and pulling UCSB to within 3-2.
The Trojans responded again, matching Santa Barbara with two runs in the bottom of the third. The key blows were a leadoff triple by shortstop Grant Green and a two-run double to right by Owen, giving his team a 5-2 lead.
The Gauchos got one back in the top of the fourth when Fox singled home third baseman Gunnar Terhune who had doubled with two outs. Again, however, USC scored a run of its own in the bottom half of the inning when Lopez singled and scored on a double by Cusick.
Santa Barbara scored a single run in the top of the seventh to pull within two, 6-4. With two outs, Blauer doubled to straightaway center field and then Zuanich did the same to score the Gaucho first baseman. USC got that run back in the bottom of the eighth on a home run by Stock, making it 7-4.
UCSB tried to rally in the top of the ninth as the Trojans brought in relief pitcher Paul Koss. Fox collected his fourth hit of the game, an infield single to third base. Rose singled through the right side for his third hit of the contest, moving Fox to third. A sacrifice fly by Blauer scored Fox and cut the deficit to 7-5. The next batter, Zuanich, grounded back to the pitcher Koss, but he threw the ball into center field trying to force Rose at second. Zuanich was safe at first and Rose moved to third with one out.
Fox, Rose and Blauer combined for nine of the Gauchos' 12 hits on the evening and Blauer has now hit in 44 of the team's 47 games this season. Reliever's Kyle Brown (3.0 innings, three hits, one run) and Justin Aspergren (1.0 inning, no hits and two strikeouts) were solid on the mound.
UCSB travels to UC Davis its final road series of the year beginning Friday afternoon with a 2:00 p.m. game.