March 3, 2012

Pettibone, Vertigan Team Up to Take Down LMU

Austin Pettibone gave up just two runs and pitched into the eighth inning on Saturday afternoon, picking up his second win of the season and keying his team to victory over the Loyola Marymount Lions. The freshman scattered eight hits over his 7.1 innings of work and was the recipient of some timely defense in the win.

UCSB, the winners of four of their last five, improve to 6-4 under new head coach Andrew Checketts. With the loss, LMU dropped to 3-7 heading into Sunday's series finale.

For the Gauchos, leadoff man Brett Vertigan was the offensive catalyst all afternoon. The speedy junior did a little bit of everything on Saturday, reaching base all five times he stepped to the plate in going 4-4 with a pair of doubles. Ever the nuisance on the basepaths, Vertigan stole three bases and scored four times. After today's exploits, Vertigans intimidating slash line now reads .477/.540/.636.

Offensively, things got started for the Gauchos in the third inning when second baseman Peter Maris was hit by a fastball from LMU starter Trevor Megill. Next up was Vertigan, who laced an 0-1 breaking ball down the right field line for a double to put UCSB in business. A pair of wild pitches from Megill would plate both runners, and Vertigan's run ended up being the game winner. UCSB would add another run off of a Marc Venning squeeze play before the side was retired, highlighting Checketts' willingness to bunt and play small ball with his entire lineup.

Pettibone allowed the leadoff batter to reach base in each inning between the third and the seventh, but was able to settle down each time- Pettibone held non-leadoff hitters to a .187 batting average for the day. Danger was especially averted in the top of the fourth inning, when LMU's Matt Lowenstein led off with a single. Pettibone coaxed a double-play ball out of Alex Guthrie on the next play, but then allowed two more baserunners before the inning was concluded.

UCSB tacked on a pair of runs in the fifth and scored four more runs in the bottom of the eighth off RBI singles from Joe Lent, Marc Venning, and Greg Mahle to put the game out of reach.

Jeremy Peterson pitched extremely well in relief, allowing no baserunners in his 1.2 innings of work. The senior inherited a runner from Pettibone when he came into the game in the eighth, but struck out consecutive batters to end any threat the Lions were mounting. A 1-2-3 top of the ninth clinched the win for Pettibone and the Gauchos.

UCSB Head Coach Andrew Checketts was effusive in his praise for the starter Pettibone- "Austin was extremely poised today. He got ahead of a lot of batters, and because of that was able to use more of his breaking stuff. It was a great comeback effort and we're very pleased with him."

Shortstop Brandon Trinkwon and first baseman Marc Venning turned in strong performances for the Gauchos as well. Trinkwon reached base four times and made several solid plays with the glove. Venning went 2-4 on the day with a pair of singles, also knocking in three runs.

The Gauchos and the Lions will conclude their series on tomorrow at 1 p.m. at Caesar Uyesaka Stadium. Matthew Vedo is slated to start on the bump for UCSB.