SANTA BARBARA, Calif. – In just his second game back after being sidelined for three weeks with a fractured wrist, senior third baseman Marc Venning broke a 4-4 deadlock in the eighth inning with an RBI line drive single to right field that plated designated hitter Robby Nesovic, giving the Gauchos a 5-4 win over the Sacramento State Hornets on Saturday afternoon.
The Gauchos win, their third straight, improved their record to 11-7. Sacramento State fell to 10-8.
Nesovic was the first batter to reach in the UCSB eighth, lining a ball over Hornets second baseman Andrew Ayers for a two-out single. Nesovic ended the day going 2-4, stretching his hitting streak to five games. He has had multiple hits in four of those five games and has seen his average increase from .385 to .481 over that stretch. Nesovic would advance to second the next at bat when Cameron Newell hit an infield blooper that Ayers couldn't handle, picking up his second error of the season. Venning would step to the plate next, going with an 0-2 fastball on the outside corner, lining it on one hop to Hornets right fielder Nathan Lukes, whose throw home was a millisecond behind the sliding Nesovic.
Venning's game-winning hit rescued the Gauchos from blowing a 4-0 lead. UCSB starter Justin Jacome came firing out of the gate, retiring the first 12 batters he faced, but ran into trouble in the fifth inning while facing Sacramento State's heart of the order for the second time. Ayers and designated hitter Chris Lewis led off the inning with singles through the left side, then after a Lukes RBI double and a four-pitch walk to shortstop Scotty Burcham, Sacramento's No. 9 hitter, catcher Dane Fujinaka, hit a bases clearing double down the left field line, making the score 4-4.
Freshman righty Kenny Chapman would come in to finish the fifth, striking out first baseman Rhys Hoskins to end the rally. Chapman would proceed to throw 3.1 innings of scoreless ball, striking out two and allowing just three hits. He would end up receiving the win, pushing his record to 3-1. Jacome left with a no decision, allowing four hits, four runs, striking out three and walking one over 4.2 innings pitched.
Freshman right-hander Dylan Hecht needed just five pitches to retire the side in the ninth, giving him his first collegiate save and lowering his ERA to 0.82.
The Gauchos offense struggled for long stretches in the game, recording just five hits, but exploded in the third inning to take a 4-0 lead. Luke Swenson led off that rally with a two-strike double to left field. With the Gauchos attempting to sacrifice Swenson to third, Hornets starter Brennan Leitao hit both Jackson Morrow and Peter Maris with sliders to load the bases. Leitao's control problems didn't stop there, as he walked Woody Woodward to force in a run. Shortstop Brandon Trinkwon followed that up with an RBI groundout before Tyler Kuresa cashed in another pair of runs with a sharply hit single off the glove of Ayers.
Kuresa's two RBIs gave him his sixth multi-RBI game of the season, best on the team.
Leitao escaped a loss with the Hornets comeback, finishing with a line of four runs, three hits allowed with five strikeouts and one walk over seven innings pitched. Sacramento State's Tyler Hoelzen was a hard luck loser, giving up just an unearned run over his one inning of work.
The Gauchos will go for the sweep tomorrow afternoon, taking on the Hornets for the last time at 1:00 p.m. Next week, UCSB will face Cal Poly in a non-conference series, with Friday's and Sunday's matchups taking place in San Luis Obispo, Calif. and Saturday's game taking place at Caesar Uyesaka Stadium. Tickets for all games can be purchased here.