RIVERSIDE, Calif. – Despite racking up twice as many hits as their opponent, the Gauchos couldn't complete the sweep over UC Riverside on Sunday afternoon, falling by a score of 8-5.
After a sloppy first inning, UCSB (22-19, 8-7) had already spotted the Highlanders (18-21, 7-8) a five run lead. Gauchos starter Cameron Cuneo, in his first start of the year, struggled mightily with his command from the get-go. The junior left-hander walked a trio of UC Riverside batters in the frame, while hitting another. With runs coming across on a hit by pitch and an RBI groundout, a bases-loaded double – one of just two hits in the inning – from Alex Rubanowitz cleared the bags and put UCR up 5-0.
The Gauchos battled back through the middle portions of the game, with Tyler Kuresa's three run homer in the fifth inning off Highlanders reliever Mark Garcia bringing UCSB within one at 5-4.
However, UC Riverside head coach Doug Smith took no chances with the game so close, bringing closer Trevor Frank into the game in the sixth inning. Frank limited the Gauchos to a single run over his 3 1/3 innings of work – an RBI double from Kuresa in the ninth inning that gave him his fourth RBI of the day – to pick up his ninth save of the season.
UCR broke through for another three runs in the bottom of the eighth to make the Gauchos comeback that much more difficult.
The Gauchos' 14 hits were their most in a loss so far this season, while the Highlanders' seven hits were the fewest allowed by UCSB in a loss this year.
Cuneo received the loss on the day to drop his record to 1-1. He finished with a line of five runs allowed over 2 2/3 innings pitched with one strikeout against five walks. However, none of the five runs were charged as earned, as the Highlanders first inning rally was aided by a UCSB error.
Freshman Robby Nesovic delivered 4 2/3 innings of relief on Sunday, and was especially effective until UCR's eighth inning rally. He ended the day with five hits allowed and four punchouts.
Zach Varela earned the win for UCR in a controlled start to move to 3-0. The junior righty tossed four innings of one-run ball, allowing six hits and walking none.
The middle of the order came through again for the Gauchos on Sunday, with Brandon Trinkwon, Woody Woodward, and Tyler Kuresa each collecting multiple hits. Nesovic and Cameron Newell had three hits apiece for the Gauchos as well.
Rubanowitz led the way for UCR offensively, going 2-4 with three RBIs.
With no midweek game, UCSB's next games will come this weekend, when they host UC Irvine in a three-game set at Caesar Uyesaka Stadium. Tickets for each of those games can be found here.