LONG BEACH, Calif. – UC Santa Barbara's Shane Bieber pitched eight excellent innings of one-run ball as the Gauchos held on against the host Dirtbags 2-1 to win the series finale Saturday afternoon at Blair Field.
The win prevented UCSB (24-10, 5-7) from getting swept by Long Beach State (18-19, 5-4) after losing two close, low-scoring games earlier in the series.
Offensively, neither team was able to muster much on offense, combining for a total of 10 hits for the game. No player on either team had multiple hits.
The Gauchos missed a big chance to score in the top of the second, when they loaded the bases with one out. However, Dirtbags starter Nick Sabo was able to induce a double play grounder from Devin Gradford to escape the jam.
UCSB would not miss their next chance to score, which came during the third inning. Joey Epperson got on base with a single up the middle with one out and advanced to third on a double by Peter Maris. Robby Nesovic would get the run home with an RBI groundout and give the Gauchos a 1-0 lead. They would proceed to add another run to their lead in the next inning Gradford coming through this time with a sacrifice fly with runners on second and third and one out.
Bieber was cruising through the game on the mound for UCSB, as Long Beach State could not get more than one runner on base in an inning the entire game. The only run Bieber allowed was in the fifth inning, when the Dirtbags perfectly manufactured a run from a leadoff single by Michael Hill. Hill stole second, moved to third on a sacrifice bunt and then scored on an RBI groundout by Johnny Bekakis. Bieber allowed only four hits and walked none, and only needed 93 pitches to get through his eight innings of work.
With the win, Bieber improved to 2-1 on the season, lowering his ERA to 2.89 in the process. Dillon Tate picked up his ninth save of the season by tossing a scoreless ninth.
Sabo, Ty Provencher, and Logan Lombana combined for a nice pitching effort for Long Beach State, allowing two runs in the game off of six hits and three walks. Sabo took the loss with two earned runs allowed in four innings and moved to 2-4 on the season.
UCSB comes home Friday to host a three game set against UC Riverside, with first pitch beginning at 3:00 p.m.