IRVINE, Calif. – Junior reliever Greg Mahle shut out No. 20 UC Irvine for six innings and allowed just two hits in Sunday's series finale at Anteater Stadium, but the home team had already scored seven runs over the first two frames of the game to claim an 8-0 win over No. 19 UC Santa Barbara.
The win made UCI (32-14, 14-1) the first team this season to sweep the Gauchos (26-14-1, 7-11).
Mahle's spectacular six inning relief effort matched a career-high in innings pitched, and lowered his ERA – which was the eighth lowest in the conference to begin the weekend – to a sparkling 1.81 figure. The lefty allowed just three baserunners on the day, two singles and a hit by pitch, but otherwise shut down an Anteaters offense that had produced seven runs in its first run through the lineup.
The Westminster, Calif. native entered the game with runners on second and third and nobody out in the second inning, and immediately established rhythm with catcher Jackson Morrow, escaping that jam with only one run coming across.
After allowing a third inning single, Mahle went on to retire 13 of the final 14 batters he faced, including a stretch of nine consecutive batters between the third and sixth innings.
Unfortunately for the Gauchos, their star reliever's standout afternoon came a bit too late, as the Anteaters jumped out to a 7-0 lead after two innings.
In the bottom of the first, each of the Anteaters' first eight hitters reached base besides No.2 hitter Chris Rabago, who put down a sacrifice bunt to advance leadoff man Grant Palmer, who scored on the next at bat when Connor Spencer singled. Taylor Sparks, Jonathan Munoz, and Adam Alcantara all added RBI hits before UCSB's Kenny Chapman ended the rally by getting Mikey Duarte to ground into a 4-6-3 twin killing.
All four of UCSB's hits came against starter Evan Brock, who tossed seven shutout innings to improve his record to 8-3. Shane Bieber took the loss for the Gauchos, falling to 2-3.
This week, UCSB will travel to Bakersfield for a Tuesday night showdown with the Roadrunners before hosting Cal State Northridge Friday through Sunday in the team's final home series of the season. First pitch on Tuesday is scheduled for 6:00 p.m., with sophomore lefty Domenic Mazza scheduled to make the start.