Four home runs and a spectacular pitching effort from senior Chuck Huggins helped UCSB sweep its three-game series against Cal State Northridge with a 10-6 win Sunday at Caesar Uyesaka Stadium. Huggins (5-1) was lights out through seven innings, allowing one run on seven hits, while walking none and striking out a season-high 11.
Northridge (10-13 overall, 0-3 Big West Conference play) jumped out to an early lead in the top of the first when first baseman Richard Cates singled home T.S. Reed to put Northridge ahead, 1-0.
That would be all Huggins would allow as he struck out two Matadors in the first inning, three in the second, and added a pair of strikeouts in the third, fourth and sixth innings, respectively. Huggins’ victory Sunday gives the southpaw a team-high five wins on the year, as he lowered his ERA to 3.53. Through 35.2 innings pitched, Huggins has struck out 44 batters. He has amassed an impressive .238 batting average against, and a stellar 44-to-12 strikeout to walk ratio. Huggins had seven punchouts through three innings, nine through four, and 10 through five frames.
As they have all season, the Gauchos answered in the bottom half of the first. Chris Fox took the first pitch he saw from Matadors starter Billy Ott and deposited it deep over the right field wall for his fourth homer of the year, tying the score, 1-1.
UCSB (18-7, 3-0) scored twice in the second inning as the Gauchos ran Ott from the game. A Matt McColgan sacrifice fly scored Matt Valaika from third to put the Gauchos ahead, 2-1. With two out and Patrick Rose on third, Brian Gump added an RBI single to center field to chase Ott.
Ott (0-2) lasted only 1.2 innings, allowing three runs on three hits, striking out none and walking two.
The Gauchos put up two runs in the bottom of the fourth on back-to-back home runs by Steve Cook and Gump. With two out and nobody on, Cook blasted a 2-1 pitch over the right center field wall. The junior transfer from SBCC’s solo shot, his second on the year, gave the Gauchos a three-run lead. Not to be outdone by Cook, Gump followed with his own long ball, raking a Davin Tate offering high over the right field wall to give the Gauchos a 5-1 advantage.
Back-to-back doubles to lead off the sixth inning from Valaika and Rose, followed by a McColgan two-run jack put UCSB in front, 8-1. McColgan’s home run was his second on the year, and the fourth for the Gauchos on Sunday.
The Gauchos’ bullpen struggled in relief of Huggins, allowing five Matadors runs in the final two frames. Greg Davis, Anthony Martin and Matt Wade combined to pitch the eighth. A Cates single started things off for Northridge. Dominic D’Anna pinch hit for Matt Carvutto and took Davis deep, hitting a home run down the right field line to bring the Matadors within five, 8-3. Martin, a sophomore from Santa Ynez High, and Wade each retired a batter in relief of Davis to get out of the eighth.
UCSB added a pair of runs in the bottom half of the eighth, extending the lead to 10-3. After Gump was hit by a pitch and stole second, Fox drove him home with an RBI single through the right side. Shane Carlson‘s RBI groundout two at-bats later, scored Fox to put UCSB ahead, 10-3.
The Matadors wouldn’t go down quietly, scoring three times in the top of ninth. Jason Roenicke was unable to retire a batter, surrendering three runs on two hits. Zach Samuels came in to close things out, walking one and striking out one to extinguish the Northridge comeback effort.
McColgan was 1-for-3 with a home run, one run scored and three RBIs. Fox went 2-for-4 with two runs scored and a pair of RBIs, while Gump went 2-for-3 with two runs, two RBIs and two stolen bases.
Click here for the official box score and play-by-play.
UCSB hosts Pepperdine at 2 p.m. Tuesday at Caesar Uyesaka Stadium.