Steve Cain sounded like a paramedic, ticking off the details of his job description.
Trouble was, his role as UC Santa Barbara pitcher changed a bit Wednesday.
“My job as a middle reliever is to put out the fire,” Cain said. “To stop the bleeding.”
Cain applied the tourniquet, choking off the Cal State Northridge offense as the Gauchos hung on for an 11-7 victory in a nonconference game at Matador Field.
Cain, a redshirt freshman from Montclair Prep High, pitched three scoreless innings of relief, allowing two hits.
Yet this time, Cain wasn’t the middle man. He replaced reliever John Bretza to open the seventh and recorded his first save.
Stop the bleeding? More like close the wound. Thanks to Cain, the Gauchos (21-30) recorded their first victory in five games against the Matadors.
Maybe Northridge (25-27) should have seen it coming. Cain, a 5-foot-10 left-hander, has thrown 9 2/3 innings of scoreless relief against the Matadors.
Keep in mind that Northridge averaged 10 runs a game against his teammates.
“I wish it was just Northridge all year,” Cain cracked. “I’ve been inconsistent. I want to end the year on a strong note.”
Cain escaped his nastiest jam in the eighth, when Northridge had runners at first and second with one out. The Gauchos held an 11-7 lead, but cleanup hitter Jason Shanahan was in the batter’s box.
Not only did Cain retire Shanahan, he got two outs for the price of one. With the baserunners in motion, Shanahan lined out to right. Eric Gillespie was doubled off first.
Northridge trailed, 8-6, entering the sixth but loaded the bases with one out. Bretza (2-1) struck out Shanahan, and after an infield error allowed a run to score, he fanned Josh Smaler.
The Gauchos put the game away in a wild seventh. Wynter Phoenix opened the inning with a double off Rick Orr (2-3) but was erased when Jared Janke sent a grounder to Shanahan, making his first start at third base. Shanahan fired to first baseman Brian Vasey, who pulled his foot off the bag for an error, then fired back to Shanahan to nail Phoenix in a disputed play at third.
Both coaching staffs complained at length. It only got more strange.
Consecutive singles loaded the bases, and after Orr forced home a run with a walk to hand the Gauchos a 9-7 lead, he was relieved by Shanahan. A groundout scored another run before Santa Barbara executed a first-and-third double steal, with Matt Bazzani scoring.
Santa Barbara received five walks and had 14 hits.