Local boys bring Gauchos back from way down

John DeAlba started it with a two-run home run in the fifth inning. Bryce Tafelski got it closer with a three-run shot in the sixth. Then, in the seventh, the UC Santa Barbara baseball team took advantage of an error, an infield single and a fielder’s choice to erase a six-run deficit and defeat Cal State Bakersfield, 8-7, on Wednesday at Caesar Uyesaka Stadium.

After the Roadrunners (8-25) scored seven runs in the fifth inning to take a 7-1 lead – four coming on Brandon Boren’s grand slam – the Gauchos (20-10) started their comeback.

Taking advantage of a very blustery day that had winds blowing out to right field, DeAlba lofted a ball into the jet stream after Tafelski was hit by a pitch to make it 7-3. In the following inning, Tafelski used the same strategy, skying a ball to right for his first career home run, following singles by Ryan Cavan and Steve Cook, to make it a one-run ballgame.

Mike Ford, making his first relief appearance of the season, came in and held Bakersfield scoreless for the final three innings to allow UCSB to come all the way back. Ford allowed just one hit and struck out four, to improve to 4-3.

Box Score

After Ford struck out two in the seventh, Eric Oliver started the bottom of the seventh by reaching on an error by third baseman Martin Medina. Shane Carlson walked and Matt Valaika reached on an infield single to the hole between third base and shortstop to load the bases.

Cavan’s sacrifice fly scored Oliver to tie the game and Cook followed by hitting would could have been an inning-ending double play to first base. However the senior raced down the line and neither pitcher Eric Draxton or second baseman Boren could beat Cook to the bag, allowing Carlson to score the go-ahead run.

Ford followed with a perfect eighth inning and after hitting a batter with one out in the ninth, struck out Boren looking and, with Joe Mills on third representing the tying run, got Ryan McIntyre to ground out to end the game.

UCSB earned its 20th win of the season, marking the 11th straight season the Gauchos have hit that mark.

UCSB returns to action this weekend when it hosts San Jose State in a three-game series beginning Friday at 2 p.m. at Caesar Uyesaka Stadium.