Valaika's Tater Knocks Out Titans

May 6, 2006

Box Score

Santa Barbara, Calif - UC Santa Barbara's Chris Valaika hit a three-run home run off Lauren Gagnier in the bottom of the seventh inning to erase a 2-1 Titan lead and upset No. 4 Cal State Fullerton, 8-2, Saturday afternoon at Caesar-Uyesaka Stadium.

Fullerton falls to 34-12 overall and 11-3 in Big West Conference play while Santa Barbara improves to 20-22, 6-8.

The Titans held a 2-0 lead for 5 ½ innings behind Lauren Gagnier, vying for his 11th victory of the year, courtesy of back-to-back doubles by Evan McArthur and Cory Vanderhook in the second, and Blake Davis' second home run of the season in the third. Davis' four-bagger not only put the Titans up 2-0, but it extended his hitting streak to 15 games.

The Gauchos got to Gagnier for the first time in their half of the sixth inning stringing together three singles by Matt Emerick, Robbie Blauer, and a scoring single by third baseman Shane Carlson to cut the lead to, 2-1.

But it was in the seventh, that Santa Barbara plated three runs, to double up the Titans at 4-2. Mario Lewis led off the Gaucho frame with a ground ball fielded cleanly by Davis at shortstop, but was then thrown wide to first allowing the right fielder aboard. After an unsuccessful sacrifice attempt that retired Lewis at second, Alden Carrithers walked setting up Valaika's big blast. Gagnier (10-4) was lifted at that point, having worked 6 1/3 innings of nine-hit ball, surrendering three earned runs in the losing effort.

Starter Jeff Braun went six innings holding the Titans to seven hits and two earned runs, but it was Clayton Edward (2-0) who would get the win in his lone inning of scoreless baseball. Justin Segal tossed the final two innings for his fifth save of the season.

UCSB would again rally in the bottom of the eighth, scoring four times three hits, a plunked hit batter and a walk to put the game out of reach. Justin Klipp came on in relief of Ryan Paul, and was unable to retire a batter. The Gauchos loaded the bases off Klipp before George Horton lifted him for senior John Estes. Estes came on and surrendered a walk to the first batter he faced in Carrithers, then a two-run single to Valaika, a run scoring grounder to Emerick before inducing an inning-ending double play to stop the bleeding. There runs were charged to Klipp, one to Estes.

The rubber-match of the three game series will begin at 1 p.m. tomorrow with Dustin Miller looking for his 10th win for the Titans. Follow the game on fullertontitans.com or on KSPA AM 1510 as Justin Alderson brings you all the play-by-play of the series finale from UC Santa Barbara.