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UCSB Blows Late Lead, Falls to Fullerton, 7-4

Bullpen collapse gives Titans an opening to rally for win.

UCSB let another game slip away in the late innings, dropping Friday’s contest against Cal State Fullerton, 7-4, at Caesar Uyesaka Stadium.

Sophomore ace Mike Ford pitched into the eighth inning, but the Gauchos bullpen couldn’t maintain a three-run lead for the second consecutive game. Titans starter Jeff Kaplan pitched a complete game, allowing four runs on seven hits.

UCSB (29-15 overall, 8-5 in Big West Conference play) scored first in the bottom of the third, as third baseman Patrick Rose launched a solo home run to deep right center field. Rose’s first homer of the year gave the Gauchos a 1-0 lead after three innings of play.

Fullerton (28-15, 12-4) tied the game, 1-1, in the top of the sixth on a solo home run from third baseman Joel Weeks.

UCSB scored a run in the bottom of the sixth as Steve Cook, led off with a single to shallow center field. After advancing to second on a ground out, the junior transfer from UCSB found himself on third base courtesy of a wild pitch. Chris Fox stepped to the plate and calmly laced an RBI single up the middle, to make it 2-1.

UCSB scored a pair of runs in the bottom of the seventh to increase its lead to 4-1.  With John DeAlba, another junior transfer from SBCC, on second and Rose on first, catcher Chris McMurray pounded a ball in the right center field gap. McMurray sped around the bases, diving headfirst into third base for a two-run triple. McMurray’s second triple of the year gave the Gauchos a three-run lead after seven innings.

After surrendering a lead-off double to Jared Clark and walking designated hitter Brian Wilson, Ford left the game with seven innings under his belt. Clayton Edwards came on in relief and immediately retired Gary Brown on a comebacker to the mound. With runners on second and third and one out, Weeks struck again, lining a double down the right field line. Weeks’ fourth hit of the day drove in two to bring the Titans within one, 4-3. After walking the next batter he faced, Edwards gave way to the Gauchos’ most reliable reliever thus far, Kyle Brown. With runners on second and third and two out, Brown gave up a two-run double to Josh Fellhauer. The extra-base hit gave the Titans their first lead of the day, 5-4. Two batters later, Brown surrendered another RBI base hit to Titans shortstop Christian Colon. The five-run eighth put Fullerton on top, 6-4.

Jason Roenicke surrendered a lead-off home run to Clark to start the ninth inning, increasing the Titans lead to three.

UCSB was unable to mount a rally in the bottom half, as Kaplan retired the side in order.

Ford pitched seven solid innings, allowing three runs on six hits, striking out four and walking five.

Kaplan (8-1) pitched his second complete game of the year, allowing four runs on seven hits, while striking out four and walking only one.

Weeks provided the thump for the Titans, going 4-for-5 with two runs scored and three RBIs. Fellhauer added a pair of hits in a 2-for-5 effort, with one run scored and two RBIs.

Rose had the best day of any Gaucho, going 2-for-3 with two runs scored and one RBI. McMurray added a pair of RBIs in a 1-for-3 day at the plate.

Click here for the official box score and play-by-play.

The Gauchos and Titans resume action at 1 p.m. Saturday. Redshirt freshman Mario Hollands (5-2) looks to return UCSB to its winning ways as he battles Titans starter Daniel Renken (4-3).

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