SANTA BARBARA, Calif. – The Gauchos were able to post six runs over the final three innings of Sunday's series finale against Cal Poly, but it was not enough to overcome deficits of 6-0 and 7-2 as the Mustangs hung on for a 7-6 win.
Cal Poly avoided a sweep in the three-game series with Sunday's win, improving to 20-9 on the year with a 3-3 mark in conference play. It was the first time this year in four contests that the Mustangs came out on top at Caesar Uyesaka Stadium, with Cal Poly taking both games of the series at Baggett Stadium in San Luis Obispo, Calif. The Gauchos fell to 16-14, 3-3 with the loss. Outhitting Cal Poly 11-10, it was the first time this season that UCSB suffered a loss when outhitting the opponent.
It was clearly a tale of two games for the Gauchos, who scored two runs apiece in each of the final three innings after racking up just one hit – a bunt single from Cameron Newell – over the first six innings. Cal Poly starter Bryan Granger was masterful over that span, striking out three and facing the minimum. He would end up receiving the win in the game, moving to 5-2 after his 6 2/3 inning, four-hit, two-run outing.
Despite his early successes, Granger began to show cracks in his foundation in the seventh inning, losing a notch on his command. The Gauchos capitalized on that, as Woody Woodward, Brandon Trinkwon, and Robby Nesovic notched three consecutive singles. Nesovic's base hit would be the end of the day for the Granger, as Cal Poly head coach Larry Lee made the move to closer Reed Reilly, who would allow a sacrifice fly to Tyler Kuresa before escaping the inning.
UCSB continued to take it to Reilly, as catcher Jackson Morrow led off the eighth inning with a triple, scoring on a single from left fielder Dalton Kelly in the very next at-bat. Kelly would advance to second on another Woodward single, and then score on an RBI single from Trinkwon.
Trailing by three going into the bottom of the ninth, the Gauchos came within a base hit of tying the game after an RBI single from Kelly and a pinch-hit RBI double from Parker Miles, who was in scoring position with two outs with the top of the order up. However, Newell was rung up on a 1-2 pitch that nicked the outside corner for a called third strike, putting an end to the Gauchos tantalizing comeback.
That comeback likely would not have been necessary if not for a sloppy start to the game by UCSB. Cal Poly was able to push across six runs over the first four innings, but only two of those runs would end being charged as earned to starter Robby Nesovic, as the Gauchos racked up four errors over the same timeframe. Nesovic (0-1) would get tagged with the loss after allowing six runs (two earned) on five hits over 3 1/3 innings pitched with three strikeouts and one walk.
The UCSB bullpen did an excellent job righting the ship after the early struggles, combining to throw 5 2/3 innings on one-run ball. Hector Lujan, Greg Mahle, Dylan Hecht, and Domenic Mazza all had scoreless outings, with Mazza throwing a hitless inning for the second consecutive day.
Woodward, Trinkwon, and Kelly each ended the day going 2-4, with the latter two each picking up a pair of RBIs as well. Newell extended his team-best hitting streak to nine games with his fourth inning single.
Next week, the Gauchos will travel to Malibu for a rematch with the Pepperdine Waves before continuing south for a conference series with Big West leaders Cal State Fullerton.
When UCSB Baseball heads to the University of San Diego for a night game on Apr. 16, UCSB Athletics and the Gaucho Fund will host a "Gaucho Huddle," welcoming UCSB fans to come together and cheer on the Gauchos.
The event will consist of a pre-game reception, held on the USD campus at Fowler Park. Beginning at 4:30 p.m., the reception will include food, beverages, and the chance to meet other UCSB diehards.
For more information or to purchase tickets, contact Andy Graham, Assistant Director of the Gaucho Fund, at email@example.com or at 805-893-3722.