SANTA BARBARA, Calif. – In an afternoon matinee against visiting Washington State, the Gauchos provided one of the most effective Monday pick-me-ups imaginable, as Cameron Newell's RBI bunt single in the bottom of the ninth inning gave UCSB a 7-6 walk-off win over the Cougars.
It was the second consecutive walk-off at home for the Gauchos, and third overall this season. Having won five of its last six games, UCSB improved to 28-21 on the year. Pac-12 member Washington State fell to 21-27.
In a back-and-forth affair, Newell's push bunt down the third base line was the climax of a two-run inning after the Gauchos had allowed Washington State to take the lead in both the eighth and ninth innings.
Trailing 6-5, UCSB shortstop Brandon Trinkwon led off the decisive frame with a single into right-center field, the last of a career-high matching four base hits on the day. He was then sacrificed over to second by Woody Woodward.
Tyler Kuresa plated the game-tying run by ripping an RBI single through the right side, then advanced to second when Cougars catcher Collin Slaybaugh mishandled the throw home from right fielder Yale Rosen, an error which would prove costly.
Freshman infielder Ryan Clark came in to pinch run for Kuresa, then advanced to third on a Greg Mahle groundout. Despite have two outs and an 0-1 count, Newell took advantage of a Washington State defense that was playing back by dropping a bunt down the third baseline. He and Clark both advanced without a throw from the Cougars.
Newell's effort was made necessary when the Cougars converted six hits over the eighth and ninth innings into three runs. After Patrick McGrath's two-run single in the eighth, Washington State led 5-4 before the Gauchos launched their first comeback, spurred on by an eighth inning RBI double from Marc Venning, who finished just 1-4 despite making hard contact with the ball in three of his at-bats.
UCSB mounted an early 2-0 lead off RBI singles from Kuresa and left fielder Dalton Kelly, but the Cougars were able to stay close, coming within one after a Matt Mendenhall sacrifice fly in the top of the fifth.
In the bottom of the same frame, the Gauchos seemed to land an important blow to Washington State when Trinkwon came around to score from first on a single from Woodward that was muffed by Rosen in right field.
Down 4-1 at inning's end, Rosen made up for his defensive gaffe by providing the big blow – a two-run triple – of a Cougars rally in the top of the sixth, spoiling what was otherwise a stellar day from UCSB's Domenic Mazza, who was making his first collegiate start.
The freshman lefty turned in a quality start, allowing three runs over six innings pitched, while picking up three strikeouts – all against No. 3 hitter Jason Monda – and walking a pair.
He left the game in line for a win, but relief pitcher Greg Mahle received the decision after allowing three runs over three innings of work, improving to 6-4 on the season.
Washington State starter Tanner Chleborad was roughed up by the UCSB lineup, surrendering 10 hits but just four runs over five innings. Sean Hartnett entered the game in the eighth to pitch out of a two-on, one out jam, but received the loss after allowing the two runs – one of which was unearned – in the ninth to fall to 2-2.
The Gauchos' 16 hits were just one off their season-high of 17, which they accomplished on May 3 against UC Irvine.
UCSB continues its busy week on Wednesday, when they head south to take on Loyola Marymount in a second midweek matchup. This weekend, the Gauchos will play host to Pacific in a three-game Big West series.
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