SANTA BARBARA, Calif. – Cameron Newell lined a single to the right side, through a five-man infield, to score Luke Swenson with the winning run in the bottom of the ninth as UC Santa Barbara came back to beat Long Beach State on Saturday afternoon at Caesar Uyesaka Stadium.
The win was the Gauchos (20-17 overall, 6-5 in the Big West) second straight one-runner over the Dirtbags (16-20 overall, 6-5 in the Big West). UCSB won 2-1 on Friday afternoon.
Swenson started the rally by working 49er reliever Josh Frye (1-2) for a one-out walk and then he went to second on a wild pitch. A walk by Jackson Morrow was Frye's last batter as Jon Maciel was summoned from the bullpen to face third baseman Devon Gradford.
Gradford pushed the count to 3-2 before grounding a ball at first baseman Jeff Yamaguchi. Yamaguchi tried to go to second to start a double play, but his throw pulled shortstop Michael Hill off the bag and everyone was safe. At that point, Long Beach coach Troy Buckley brought his left fielder, Jeff McNeil, in to give his team five infielders, setting the stage for Newell's heroics.
The Dirtbags parlayed back-to-back home runs in the sixth inning to turn a 3-1 deficit into a 4-3 lead. After McNeil was hit by a pitch to open the inning, Hill hit a high drive that curled just inside the right field foul pole, tying the score. On the next pitch, Jeff Yamaguchi belted one the other way that hit high on the screen down the left field line, breaking the tie. The next batter, Ino Patron slugged a shot deep to right center that went off the top of the fence and wound up as a triple. Patron, however, was stranded at third as Greg Mahle relieved Justin Jacome and got an infield ground out, walked a batter and then induced a double play.
Mahle (6-5) was outstanding in relief of Jacome, allowing just two runs and two walks and striking out four over 3.2 innngs.
UCSB tied the score at 4-4 in the bottom of the eighth. With one out, Joey Epperson singled to center field and stole second. After Brandon Trinkwon grounded out, moving Epperson to third, Robby Nesovic drove a two-out single to center to score the run.
The Gauchos scored the game's first run in the bottom of the second when Woody Woodward doubled home Tyler Kuresa who had singled. Long Beach tied it at 1-1 in the top of the third on a run scoring double by McNeil.
UCSB took its 3-1 lead in the bottom of the fourth. With one out, Nesovic was hit by a pitch. He moved to third when Kuresa hit a fly ball to deep right that was lost in the sun by 49er right fielder Richard Prigatano. Kuresa was credited with a double. Woodward, the next batter, then lofted a fly to right that eluded Prigatano and second baseman Colton Vaughn, falling in for another double and scoring Nesovic and moving Kuresa to third. A ground ball out by Swenson scored the second run of the inning.
The teams will play the final game of their three game series on Sunday with first pitch scheduled for 1:00 p.m. The Gauchos are slated to throw Nesovic who, in his last outing, defeated No. 3 Cal State Fullerton 3-0.