Three thousand seventy-four fans at Goodwin Field celebrated the 9-1 victory of the No. 1-ranked Titan baseball team (31-11, 9-1) over UC Santa Barbara’s Gauchos (19-23, 1-6).
Titan starter Ricky Romero (9-4) pitched unevenly at first, but turned it around by holding the Gauchos to three hits in eight innings, with eight strikeouts.
“I started off slow,” he said. “The first inning I got in a little jam right away, right off the get go.”
Although Romero struck out the first Gaucho of the game, he walked the second batter, allowed the next one to reach on a single, and walked the fourth batter to load the bases.
Romero consulted with his catcher, John Curtis, but that didn’t immediately help. The next Gaucho, first baseman Bill Rowe, drove in the game’s first run.
Titan center fielder Brandon Tripp ended the Gaucho’s hopes of scoring additional runs by catching a pop up, leaving runners stranded on second and third base.
“I thought Romero was very good,” UCSB Head Coach Bob Brontsema said. “We had a chance to get on [the scoreboard] a little early, then the [Titan] center fielder [Tripp] made a great play. And I thought that was a big momentum turn for them.”
In their first inning, the Titans also quickly loaded the bases: shortstop Blake Davis singled, second baseman Justin Turner made a sacrifice bunt, right fielder Sergio Pedroza singled and first baseman Brett Pill got hit with a wild pitch – becoming the first of three Titans and two Gauchos to be hit by wild pitches during the game.
Next, Titan left fielder Danny Dorn singled, allowing Davis and Pedroza to score. Dorn, who went two-for-three with three RBIs, reached second on the throw.
Designated hitter Trevor Mortensen, who’s filling in for the injured Felipe Garcia, hit a sacrifice fly allowing Pill to cross the plate.
Dorn advanced to third on the play, and scored to give the Titan’s a 4-1 lead when Gaucho pitcher Steve Morlock (4-7) balked.
“Coming right back and getting four [runs] was huge, a huge momentum thing,” Titan Head Coach George Horton said. “I was happy with the offensive production and Romero did his job. He’s a pretty tough guy to doubt. He’s pretty good. So I thought it was a good performance and a good defensive effort as well.”
After the first inning, the Titans scored five more runs against a virtually silent Gaucho offense. Mortensen and Pill each had 2 RBIs in the contest.
“It felt good,” said Pill, who hit a home run in the third inning. “Our offense finally came out today and scored a lot of runs. And with Ricky pitching you always know that you’re going to get either a one or a two up there [on the scoreboard by the other team].”
The Titans and the Gauchos will play again today at 6 p.m. in game two of the series at Goodwin Field.