February 23, 2014

Gauchos Win San Jose State Rubber Match Behind Offensive Rout, Hecht's Gem

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. – The UC Santa Barbara offense fired on all cylinders in a Sunday rubber match at San Jose State, scoring 10 runs on 19 hits to easily claim the series win over the Spartans and give the Gauchos a respectable 3-1 record after the opening week of the 2014 season.

The 10-1 win gave sophomore righty Dylan Hecht his second win of the week after he led the team to an Opening Day victory over Cal State Bakersfield this past Tuesday. San Jose State dropped to 2-6 with the loss.

UCSB's 19 hits were the most recorded by the team in a single game since Feb. 23, 2010 against Westmont College. The program hadn't collected 19 hits against a Division I opponent since Mar. 27, 2009 at Cal State Northridge. UCSB has had at least 16 hits in consecutive games after only accomplishing that feat three times in the 2013 season.

For the second consecutive day, all but one UCSB starter recorded a hit in the win. A whopping seven Gauchos had multiple hits, and four had multiple runs batted in.

Junior first baseman Tyler Kuresa keyed the Gauchos offense in the win, going 2-4 with four RBIs. Senior third baseman Joey Epperson clubbed his first home run of the season as part of a 2-5 day. Sophomore Robby Nesovic wrapped up a strong week with a 3-5, two RBI performance that included one of the team's three doubles. Leftfielder Cameron Newell and shortstop Peter Maris each had three hits apiece, while second baseman Woody Woodward had two hits and knocked in a pair of runs.

The Gauchos were able to stake Hecht to a 3-0 lead before he had even taken a step out of the dugout. Epperson led off the game with a base hit before Maris doubled into the left center gap to put UCSB in business. Nesovic cashed in both runners with an RBI single, then later came around to score himself on a Kuresa RBI knock.

Entering the game with a lead that ultimately proved to be decisive, Hecht built on an uneven Opening Day start with an undeniably strong performance against the Spartans. The hard-throwing righty allowed just one unearned run on five hits over six innings while fanning four. The converted closer threw 89 pitches in the outing, requiring just two more than it took to get through four innings on Tuesday.

Hecht really only faced trouble in two frames. Two Spartan batters singled in the bottom of the second with one out, but the Plesanton, Calif. native struck Joe Stefanski before getting Alec de Watville to ground out to end the inning. San Jose State plated their only run of the day on a Jacob Valdez RBI single in the third. Hecht limited the damage there, retiring the next two batters to end the inning.

UCSB put the game out of reach with a three-run fourth, highlighted by a two-run single from Kuresa. Epperson capped the day's scoring by launching a two-run shot over the left field wall in the top of the seventh inning.

Senior Travis Israel, freshman Josh Adams, and junior Jarrett Costa all made their UCSB debuts in the rout. Pitchers Domenic Mazza, Andrew Vasquez, and Campbell Wear all made their season debuts in relief. Each pitched a scoreless, hitless inning with one strikeout. It was the third time in four games to start the season that UCSB's bullpen failed to surrender a run.

The Gauchos will face their toughest test so far in the young season this next week, as they travel to UCLA to play the defending College World Series champions in a Tuesday night matchup. UCSB will welcome Princeton this weekend for their first home series of the season. The four-game set begins Friday afternoon at 2:00 p.m.

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