NORTHRIDGE, Calif. – After being locked in a 0-0 deadlock through eight innings, the UCSB offense broke through for six runs in the ninth inning off Cal State Northridge closer Joshua Goossen-Brown to take a 6-1 victory in the series opener, snapping an eight game winning streak for the Matadors in the process.
The win pushed the Gauchos to a season-best six games over .500 at 26-20, with an 11-8 mark in conference play. CSUN fell to 30-19, 14-5.
After a stellar eight-inning, scoreless outing from starter Jerry Keel, CSUN head coach Matt Curtis made to move to Goossen-Brown in the ninth inning, as Keel had already thrown 122 pitches to that point in the game.
The Gauchos made Curtis regret that decision almost immediately. After designated hitter Robby Nesovic was retired on a phenomenal diving catch of a sinking line drive by shortstop Kyle Attl, eight consecutive UCSB batters would reach base.
Tyler Kuresa started the action by swatting a hanging 1-2 slider into right field for a base hit. Center fielder Cameron Newell followed that up with a hit-and-run single through the left side to rescue his hitting streak, which was extended to 12 games with his 1-4 performance.
Catcher Jackson Morrow struck the fatal blow next by bouncing a ground ball over third baseman Nicolas Osuna – who was playing in with the bases loaded – to score another pair and push UCSB's lead to 3-0. Shortstop Brandon Trinkwon would later add a two-run single before the Gauchos scored their final run off a wild pitch.
Goossen-Brown – who was charged with five of UCSB's six runs – picked up the loss on Friday, falling to 2-3 on the year.
The six-run outburst allowed UCSB head coach Andrew Checketts to keep starter Austin Pettibone in – closer Dylan Hecht had been warming up in the top of the frame – to attempt to finish out his second complete game of the season.
Pettibone did just that, inducing a game-ending pop fly from Alexis Mercado to push his record on the year to 7-3.
His only blemish on the day was a 3-2 fastball that he left over the plate in the bottom of the ninth to Nate Ring, who homered to left field. However, he otherwise dominated the Matadors lineup, allowing just six hits and walking one while striking out five on 113 pitches.
Cal State Northridge had more than a single runner on base just one time in the game – in the sixth inning – and never had a runner reach third until the ninth inning round-tripper.
Keel was just as effective for the Matadors, limiting the Gauchos to just four hits over his eight innings of work.
He pitched out of trouble just one time, but it was an impressive escape act. After a single, error, and walk to lead off the third inning, the Gauchos had the bases loaded with nobody out with Trinkwon up.
The UCSB shortstop then ripped the very first pitch he saw towards right field, but Goossen-Brown – also CSUN's first baseman – made a backhanded spear of the line drive and then took less than a step to double off Joey Epperson at first. Keel then struck out Woodward to end the threat.
UCSB's Kuresa was a busy man on Friday, going 2-4 with a pair of singles and recording 11 putouts at first base. Morrow was the only other Gaucho hitter with multiple hits, going 2-3 with a pair of RBIs.
The Gauchos and Matadors will continue their three-game series tomorrow with a Saturday matinee. UCSB's Robby Nesovic (2-2, 6.19 ERA) will be opposed by CSUN's Calvin Copping (5-3, 3.22 ERA). With a win tomorrow, the Gauchos will have won four consecutive series for the first time since 2001.