Interference call halts Gaucho comeback

Senior Eric Oliver sure had a rough trip to the plate in the bottom of the ninth Sunday, as the UCSB men’s baseball team came up short with a 5-4 loss against San Jose State at Caesar Uyesaka Stadium.

Oliver came to bat with one out and Brian Gump on first. With a two-strike count, Oliver swung and missed at a ball in the dirt as Gump tried to steal second. After being tagged out, Oliver inadvertently obstructed San Jose’s catcher from making the play at second, and umpire Rick Wilson called Gump out due to batter interference.

Out-performed from the start, the Gauchos (21-12) were forced to play catch-up the entire game after San Jose (26-11) took a 1-0 lead in the first inning.

“Early in the game we were hitting rockets and they just kept making plays, but that’s baseball,” said UCSB head Coach Bob Brontsema, “We just came up a little short.” 

After the Spartans took the early lead, neither team was able to put any runs on the board until the fifth inning. 

Both defenses held strong until the Gauchos cracked the field open with an RBI by Oliver in the fifth. Yet they could not overtake the Spartans, as Ryan Cavan went down swinging with two outs and runners on first and second.

The Spartans posted a quick four runs in the beginning of the sixth capping a rough outing for Gaucho ace Mario Hollands, who gave up five runs and eight hits — nearly all of which came in the first half of the sixth inning. 

Junior Mike Ford replaced Hollands halfway through the inning and held the Spartans scoreless for the following 3 1/3 innings in his second relief appearance this week, setting the stage for a Gaucho comeback. 

The Spartans began the ninth inning with a slim one-run lead and they were looking for any Gaucho mistake to get some insurance, and they very nearly did. 

Spartan Anthony Aguilera found his way to first after being hit by a pitch. Although the next two at-bats became outs, Aguilera was advanced to third. Ford  overthrew catcher Marty Mullins and Aguilera shot for home, but Mullins was able to scramble for the ball and throw him out.

Ultimately victory was not meant to reside in the hands of the Gauchos who dropped the 3-game series 2-1 and suffered consecutive losses for only the second time this season.

“That was a good series, a good club, and a good test for us,” Brontsema said.

UCSB’s next appearance at Caesar Uyesaka Stadium will be Friday against Cal Poly.