RIVERSIDE, Calif. – In Andrew Checketts' first game back at the Riverside Sports Complex since departing the UCR program in 2007, the Gauchos scored early and often in a 10-7 win over the Highlanders in the opener of a three-game Big West set.
Freshman DH Robby Nesovic keyed the Gauchos offense, going 3-5 with three RBIs on the night. His two-run single in the sixth inning gave UCSB the lead for good at 9-7. Center fielder Cameron Newell added three singles in the win, giving him hits in 19 of his last 20 games.
Woody Woodward, Tyler Kuresa, and Jackson Morrow each had a pair of hits for the Gauchos as well. UCSB's 15 hits were just one off of their season high of 16, which they recorded on Apr. 6 against Cal Poly.
With a four run first inning, the Gauchos continued their trend of pulling out wins when scoring first. UCSB is now 18-6 this season when putting the first runs of the game on the board.
Left fielder Joey Epperson set the tone early for UCSB, sending the first pitch of the game into right field for a double. An RBI double from Robby Nesovic was sandwiched by RBI base hits from Woodward and Kuresa to put to the Gauchos up 3-0. Newell lined another RBI single before the inning was over to stretch the score to 4-0.
UC Riverside starter Dylan Stuart continued to get roughed up by the Gauchos, as the away team was able to put up three-spots in both the third and sixth innings. The sixth inning rally was aided by a UCR error, but Nesovic and Kuresa were able to capitalize on the extra opportunity with RBI hits.
Stuart ended up with the loss on the night, finishing with a line of 10 runs allowed (six earned) over 5 2/3 innings pitched.
Stuart's counterpart, UCSB starter Austin Pettibone picked up his team-best sixth win with his seven inning, two earned run outing. Pettibone has now pitched into the sixth inning in all but one of his starts this season.
The Yorba Linda, Calif. native struggled a bit early, giving up five runs over the first two innings. However, all three of the Highlanders runs in the second inning were unearned, with a run coming in on a passed ball and another pair coming in after a UCSB fielding error.
From that point on, Pettibone was highly effective, giving up no further runs on four hits while striking out a trio of UC Riverside batters.
Freshman righty Dylan Hecht entered the game with the bases loaded and nobody out in the ninth inning, but shut the door on the UCR rally, coaxing a double play ball from Kevin Davidson before striking out Cody Hough to end the game and earn his fifth save of the season.
The Gauchos and Highlanders continue their series tomorrow night, with Justin Jacome taking the ball for UCSB. First pitch is set for 6:00 p.m.