Gauchos Set Program Mark With Series Opening 10-4 Win at USF
SAN FRANCISCO – UC Santa Barbara staked starter Justin Jacome to a 5-0 lead after three innings and eventually scored double-digit runs for the sixth time this season to secure a 10-4 win over San Francisco on Friday afternoon at Benedetti Diamond, clinching a program-record non-conference winning percentage by improving to 21-4-1 on the year in non-league games.
Senior left fielder Joey Epperson went 3-3, walked three times to reach in all six of his plate appearances, and scored four runs while sophomore designated hitter Robby Nesovic had four hits in five at-bats with three runs batted in to lead a Gauchos offense that reached the ten-run figure for the first time since Mar. 22.
With the win, the Gauchos (30-16-1) secured consecutive 30-win seasons for the first time since 1991-92. Andrew Checketts became just the second head coach in program history (Al Ferrer being the other) to lead UCSB to back-to-back 30+ win years.
UCSB plated at least one run in each of the first three innings to jump out to a 6-0 lead against the Dons (24-27). The sizable lead handed Gauchos starter Justin Jacome his team-leading seventh win in nine decisions after the southpaw allowed two earned runs and struck out four in 7.2 innings pitched.
Epperson got the UCSB offense going from the get-go, working a walk to lead off the top of the first. After stealing second, Epperson scored on a Nesovic single to open the scoring. The Gauchos would get another before the frame expired when junior first baseman Tyler Kuresa scored on a USF error.
The Gauchos had their most productive inning in the second, scoring three runs. The first came on a passed ball, scoring senior catcher Jackson Morrow, before Nesovic plated another two with a double.
The six-run lead allowed Jacome to cruise through the Dons lineup. The lefty scattered six hits over his outing, only allowing a single earned run in each the third and fifth frames. Jacome tossed a career-high 122 pitches in the win.
Tyler Kuresa (2-5, one RBI, two runs scored) and Scott Quinlan (2-5, one RBI, two runs scored) also had productive days on offense for UCSB.
USF leadoff hitter Bradley Zimmer went 3-5 with an RBI and a run to lead the Dons offense. Shortstop Nico Giarratano (1-4) and right fielder Derek Atkinson (1-4) were the other USF hitters to drive in runs. Starter Grant Goodman took the loss after allowing six runs (three earned) in 2.1 innings pitched, falling to 3-5 on the year.
The Gauchos and Dons will continue their series tomorrow afternoon at 1:00 p.m. Junior righty Austin Pettibone, coming off a four-hit shutout of Cal State Northridge last weekend, will start for UCSB opposite lefty Christian Cecilio.