Wilkerson's Historic Home Run Leads Gauchos Past Cal State Northridge, 4-2
May 28, 2005
NORTHRIDGE, Calif. -
Senior right fielder Matt Wilkerson's 42nd career home run represented more than just a UC Santa Barbara record. It was the decisive blow in a Gaucho victory.
Wilkerson launched a two-run homer in the fifth to give UCSB (25-30 overall, 7-13 in the Big West) the runs it would need to gain the Big West win and improve the Gauchos winning streak against Cal State Northridge (18-35-1 overall, 2-18 in the Big West) to eight consecutive games.
The blast by Wilkerson was his team-leading 13th of the season, but it also gave him 42 in his career, one more than David Willis (1994-97), the previous UCSB record-holder for career home runs.
Chase McGuire continued his torrid pace for Northridge, launching a two-run shot of his own in the fifth to answer Wilkerson's blast, but it was the only runs that CSUN could push across against Michael Martin. Both of the runs were unearned as a two-out error allowed McGuire to come to the plate. McGuire connected on the first pitch he saw from Martin, launching the offering deep over the wall in left-center. His blast brought in Drew Aguailar, who has reached on Chris Malec's two-out error, and cut the lead to 4-2.
It was all that Martin would allow though, surrendering just four hits in seven innings of work. After putting two runners on base in the first inning, Martin settled down and constantly threw strikes. Of the first 16 batters he faced, only one was thrown a first-pitch ball. Martin had four strikeouts with just one walk to improve to 6-7 on the season.
The Gauchos took advantage of two errors by McGuire at second base to take a 2-0 lead in the second inning. Matt Aidem singled with one out to bring up Bill Rowe. Hitting what could have been a double-play ball up the middle, Rowe instead reached as McGuire tried to play the short-hop but allowed the ball to get under his legs and into center field. Aidem moved up to third and Rowe stood at first base. A few pitches later, Rowe took off for second, and as Alberto Quintana's throw went across the diamond, Aidem broke for home. He slid in safely on the double steal, but McGuire's errant throw home allowed Rowe to move to third. Matt Kalafatis then did his job, grounding to second to drive in Rowe.
Wilkerson doubled that lead in the fifth. With two outs and a runner on second base, Peter Eberhardt challenged the righty with a fastball on the inner part of the plate. Wilkerson took that first pitch and hit it well over the left-center field wall.
Eberhardt took the loss, pitching well in his final start for CSUN. He allowed just six hits in seven-plus innings of work, striking out three with two earned runs. He walked the first three batters of the eighth inning before giving way to Matt Gaylord out of the pen. Gaylord did his job to keep the game close. After striking out Kalafatis for the first out, he got C.J. Cook to fly out to left. What should have been a sac fly turned into a double play as Jeff Tezak fired to Raymond Ravago who fed the cut to Erik Hagstrom to nail the runner moving to third base before Wilkerson could touch home plate.
Alex McRobbie faced just four hitters in the ninth to retire the Matadors. He picked up his 13th save of the campaign, another UCSB record.
The Gauchos and Matadors will finish up its season tomorrow at Matador Field. The first pitch is scheculed for 1 p.m. Andy Graham will get the start for the Gauchos and will be opposed by Craig Baker of CSUN. It will be senior day as CSUN honors its five graduating seniors.