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Ford Pitches a Gem in UCSB’s Diamond Opener

Sophomore's 11 strikeouts compliment Gauchos' bats in 9-0 drubbing of Marist.

Backed by a stellar performance from sophomore pitcher Mike Ford, UCSB got off to a hot start Friday as it defeated Marist, 9-0, at Caesar Uyesaka Stadium. The two squads will meet again Saturday in a doubleheader starting at 11 a.m.

Ford had a career day, one-hitting Marist (0-1) through seven innings of work and striking out a career-high 11 batters along the way. The 2007 Freshman All-American pitched as though he was in midseason form, striking out seven of the first 12 batters he faced. Ford struck out the side in the seventh to cement his sterling performance.

Ford threw first-pitch strikes all day, keeping the Marist batters off balance with a steady mix of fastballs and curveballs. Marist’s lone hit came in the sixth inning when Red Fox second baseman Kyle Meyer hit a high chopper up the middle. UCSB second baseman Shane Carlson ranged to his right and fielded the ball cleanly, but was unable to make a throw.

Friday marked the second time in Ford’s young career that he recorded double-digit strikeout totals, having set down 10 Long Beach State batters last year in 7.2 innings of work.

UCSB (1-0) jumped on Marist early and often, scoring four runs in the first two innings. Three of those came in the opening frame, the first when third baseman Patrick Rose was plated by a single from left fielder Mike Zuanich. With one out and two runners on, shortstop Matt Valaika cracked a liner to left. Marist left fielder Brian McDonough misjudged the ball, which glanced off his glove and bounced to the warning track. Two runs scored on the play and the Gauchos never looked back.

Marist starter Josh Rickards was knocked out of the game in the fourth inning, having allowed six runs (four earned) on six hits, with four walks and three strikeouts in 3.1 innings.

With the exception of first baseman Eric Oliver, who walked four times in the game, and DH Gunnar Terhune, every Gauchos starter had at least one hit. Rose got UCSB off to a fast start from of the leadoff spot, going 2-for-4 with three runs scored and a pair of stolen bases. Outfielder Chris Fox went 3-for-5 with a home run and three RBIs out of the two hole. Zuanich added two hits in four at-bats with one run scored and an RBI. All told, the senior trio went 7-for-13 on the day with five runs scored and four RBIs. The Gauchos stranded 10 runners on base.

Junior Matt Wade came on in relief of Ford, pitching a perfect eighth and striking out one. From there the Gauchos turned to sophomore Clayton Edwards, who finished off the Red Foxes in style, striking out two batters in a 1-2-3 ninth inning.

With rain forecast for Sunday, the two teams decided to add Sunday’s game to Saturday’s schedule and make it a doubleheader.

Scott Flanders is UCSB‘s associate media relations director.

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