Anyway, the first game, won by Santa Barbara was a bit of a downer in that the Spartans were unable to present any type of resistance and went down to defeat by the score of 7-0. The boys in blue (the home town ones, that is) got only two hits and that is just not going to get the job done. The highlight for the offense had to be the first hit by freshman Zack Jones who was the DH in game one. I still think he will eventually find himself somewhere in the full-time lineup. On a more serious note; where has the offense gone? This was too much like the home opener against St. Mary's.
Well, then, how about the pitching? I'll give credit where it's due and the starter for UCSB was absolutely masterful. Starting pitcher Mario Hollands went eight solid innings and was in full control the whole time. No ball was hit hard and he didn't rely on the strikeout getting only four. He was one of their leading pitchers last year and he looks to be their ace this year. A very good game by the big lefty.
San Jose's Esteban Guzman was not quite so effective giving up five runs in six innings work. With a little help from his relief he might have gotten off with only three runs given up but the two runners Dylan Morrow inherited in the seventh inning scored. David Wayne Russo pitched the ninth and also was touched for a run. Guzman's primary problem, the way I see it, was getting in trouble with the leadoff batter in five of the six-plus innings he worked. He was always in the stretch.
This outing was better than the St. Mary's game but he must get better with leadoff batters and not let them set the tone for the whole inning. It's a killer. Morrow and Russo are both freshmen so it was good to see them get some time on the mound even though they got touched up a bit. I see bright futures for them. Four freshmen made it into the game for the Spartans. I'm impressed.
Game two was a come-from-behind 6-5 win by the Spartans. They got both hitting and pitching in just the right amounts in this game. One of the big bats had to belong to Karson Klauer who drove in the winner in the bottom of the ninth to give him two for the game. The other was Corey Valine who went 2-for-3 with two RBIs. Nice to see Corey get back on the hit parade (anyone remember that old tv show?). The Gauchos also hit three homeruns this game, with two by Mark Haddow, and two in the first game.
Pitching is still an issue with the Spartans. John Austin started and lasted only four innings giving up four earned runs. Not a very good start and that's two poor starts in a row. However, the relief corps came to the rescue in this one. Eric LeBaron went two innings giving up one run along with four walks (far too many). The winning pitcher was Craig Broussard who went three very good innings giving up only one hit and no walks for the win (1-0). He showed me a little in fall ball so he may see more time on the mound as things continue to shake out for the pitching staff.
Don Starks is the Baseball Editor of Inside Sparta. You may contact Don with any questions, comments, or tips at firstname.lastname@example.org
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