Gauchos homer thrice to beat No. 9 UCLA

After falling behind 3-0 in the first inning on Tuesday afternoon, UCSB’s baseball team got back in the pink with three home runs on the way to a 7-6 upset of No. 9 UCLA at Caesar Uyesaka Stadium.

Robby Cummings drilled a three-run homer in the second, Brian Gump added a solo shot in the third and shortstop Shane Carlson extended the lead to 7-4 with a two-run blast that capped a three-run sixth. The Gauchos (3-1) wore pink hats and wristbands to raise awareness for breast cancer research.

“Every hitter, 1 through 9, has a great potential to hit for power or average,” said Carlson, who went 2-4 with two RBIs and two runs scored. “We can put up a ton of runs with the lineup we have.”

The ball was jumping out of the park with UCLA (2-2) also collecting three homers.

Gump’s solo shot to right-center leading off the third gave the 30th-ranked Gauchos their first lead at 4-3. UCLA tied it at 4-4 on an RBI single by Justin Uribe in the fourth.

Mark Haddow singled to open the Gaucho fifth and went to second on a sacrifice bunt by Gump. Gunnar Terhune’s single to right drove in Haddow with the tie-breaking run and one batter later, Carlson unloaded a two-run blast over the scoreboard in left to make it 7-4.

“I hit a fastball,” said Carlson, who has a team-high three homers in four games, the same as Gump. “I don’t know where it went, I just started running as fast as I could.”

“This is a huge win for us. They’re a great team. We know we’re capable of beating any team in the nation but to come out and actually do it on a day like this in such a close game … it really means a lot for our confidence.”

Haddow went 2-4 with two stolen bases on a day when every Gaucho starter got a hit.

Junior right-hander Mike Ford (1-0) settled down after giving up back-to-back homers in the first inning to Casey Haerther and Cody Decker. He held the Bruins to one run on five hits over his last four innings with five strikeouts and three walks.

“The command wasn’t really there today,” said Ford. “They took a couple of bad swings and gave me a couple of outs. At the same time, we made some great plays in the outfield and infield.  By the third inning, I kind of relaxed a little bit and let things happen the way they were going to happen.

“Dave Meals came in a shut the door and that was exactly what we needed.”

Meals, a junior right-hander from Colorado Springs, gave up two runs on five hits over the last four innings to earn his first save. Eddie Murray homered to lead off the sixth and Decker added an RBI single, shaving the Gaucho lead to 7-6.

“This was probably the biggest game I’ve ever pitched in, so there were some nerves there,” said Meals, who was a starter last year at West Valley JC. “There was also some adrenaline, so I had to calm myself down. Our defense has been solid and they came up big, especially (first baseman Eric) Oliver.”

With a runner on second and two outs in the eighth, Oliver dove to his right to stop a hard grounder and fed Meals for the out, preserving the 7-6 lead.

Gaucho coach Bob Brontsema was impressed with how Ford pitched after the first inning.

“I don’t think he had his best stuff by any stretch of the imagination, however, he pitches with guts and he competes and he gets after it and that’s what he did to get us back in the game,” said the 16th-year head coach. “We got the big hit from Rob and that fired us up. We also got big hits from Shane and Brian … Gunnar got a big hit and I thought Mark Haddow had a good day, stealing a couple of bases to put the pressure on them.”

UCSB’s defense produced double plays in the sixth and seventh innings.

Meals got out of a one-out, two-on jam in the sixth by inducing Gabe Cohen to hit into a 6-4-3 double play. With runners on first and second and no outs in the seventh, Taylor Rahmatulla hit a grounder to Cummings, who stepped on third and threw to second baseman Matt Valaika for a rare third-to-second double play.

“I thought they were going for a triple play,” joked Brontsema.

After hitting Niko Gallego to open the eighth, Meals retired the last six batters in order.

“I thought Meals settled down and did a nice job,” said UCLA coach John Savage. “He got hit hard early and then pitched out of some jams. I thought he was the difference in the game. Our No. 9 hitter (Murray) hit the first home run of his career. The ball was really flying out of here.

“They have a good club, I think they’ll battle for the Big West this year.”

The Gauchos will play their next three games in the Dairy Queen Classic at the Metrodome in Minneapolis. UCSB will take on Minnesota at 4:35 p.m. (PST) on Friday, Hawaii at 10 a.m. Saturday and Washington at 9 a.m. Sunday.


UCLA …….. 300  102  000 — 6  12  1

UCSB …….. 031  030  00x — 7  11  2

 Grace, Claypool (5), Lafferty (6), Novak (8) and Rodriguez; Ford, Meals (6) and Mullins. W–Ford (1-0). L–Grace (0-2). Save–Meals (1).

2B–UCLA: Murray, Dunlap. UCSB: Valaika, Oliver, Mullins. HR–UCLA: Haerther (2), 1st inn., one on; Decker (1), 1st inn., none on; Murray (1), 6th inn., none on. UCSB: Cummings (1), 2nd inn., two on; Gump (3), 3rd inn., none on; Carlson (3), 5th inn., one on.

Time–2:46. Att.–350. Records–UCLA 2-2, UCSB 3-1.