SANTA BARBARA, Calif. – After threatening multiple times over the first half of the game, the Gauchos' offense broke through and then some in the sixth inning, posting 11 runs as part of a 13-2 win over No. 17 Cal Poly on Saturday afternoon, giving UCSB its first conference series victory of the season. UCSB's 13 runs were a season-high, while the 11-run outburst was the most runs scored by the Gauchos in a single inning since Mar. 29, 2009, when they scored 10 runs in the seventh inning at Cal State Northridge.
The win improved the Gauchos' overall record to 16-13, while they pulled even with Mustangs in the Big West standings at 3-2. UCSB is now 12-5 in games at Caesar Uyesaka Stadium this year. Cal Poly's overall record fell to 20-8 with the loss.
With the score tied 2-2 in the bottom of the sixth, Luke Swenson started off the 11-run, 16-batter inning with a four-pitch walk, advancing to second base after Ryan Clark reached on a throwing error from Cal Poly starting pitcher Matt Imhof. Cal Poly made a move to bullpen after Imhof's error, bringing in Taylor Chris. Leadoff man Cameron Newell sacrificed the pair of runners over to greet Chris, and from there the floodgates opened.
The next six UCSB batters would reach base, highlighted by RBI hits from Woody Woodward – the eventual game-winning single – and Robby Nesovic, who doubled sharply down the left field line past the glove of Mustangs third baseman Jimmy Allen. After a one-out popup, the Gauchos got right back to work, receiving three consecutive singles from Ryan Clark, Newell, and Woodward. Shortstop Brandon Trinkwon would walk before Nesovic tallied the last hit of the inning, an RBI single up the middle.
Nesovic, who finished the day going 4-4, recorded all four of his RBIs in the sixth inning alone. Despite the error, four Cal Poly pitchers would combine to allow 10 earned runs in the frame. Imhof, who faced the first two batters of the inning, ended up with the loss – his first of the season – to drop his record to 3-1. The lefty labored through five-plus innings of work, allowing three earned runs and eight hits while striking out just two and walking three.
The offensive outburst breathed new life into UCSB starter Justin Jacome, who started off hot but ran into trouble in the middle innings. Cal Poly was able to bring runs across in both the third and fifth innings on RBI singles from Jordan Ellis and Denver Chavez. Jacome did an admirable job pitching out of trouble on Saturday, coaxing a trio of double play balls throughout the game and recording back-to-back swinging strikeouts with runners on the corners in the fifth inning.
The freshman lefty ended the day with a line of eight innings pitched, seven hits and two runs allowed, with five strikeouts and two walks. For the third consecutive and sixth overall time, Jacome recorded a quality start with his outing, improving his record to 3-2.
On a day in which every UCSB starter at least reached base, Nesovic, Joey Epperson (2-2, with a walk), Cameron Newell (2-5, two RBIs), Ryan Clark (2-4, two RBIs, two runs), and Woody Woodward (4-5, two RBIs, three runs scored) each had career days with the bat.
Woodward gave the Gauchos an early lead when he hit a one-out triple into the left-center gap in the first inning. He would come around to score on a Trinkwon single that ricocheted off the pitcher and into shallow left field. After a Nesovic double, Trinkwon would score on an RBI groundout from Kuresa. Woodward finished the day a home run away from the cycle.
Freshman left-hander Domenic Mazza impressed as well by striking out the side in a 1-2-3 ninth inning.
The Gauchos will go for the sweep tomorrow afternoon with Nesovic on the bump. First pitch is set for 1:00 p.m. For tickets, click here.