MALIBU, Calif. – A wild seventh inning cost No. 11 UC Santa Barbara in Tuesday's contest at Pepperdine, as the Waves parlayed three walks into three runs to break a 2-2 tie and claim the midweek showdown by a score of 6-2 at Eddy D. Field Stadium.
The final game for the Gauchos (18-5) before conference play starts this weekend, it was the first time this season that UCSB has lost consecutive games. Despite the setback, the Gauchos are still off to their third-best start in program history, trailing only the 1984 (20-3) and 2014 (19-4) teams.
Freshman left-hander Kyle Hatton had another strong start for UCSB, allowing two earned runs on six hits over six full innings with no walks and a pair of strikeouts. He didn't allow a hit until the third inning against the Waves (11-12), the only frame in which he allowed a run.
The southpaw has been a revelation for the Gauchos, tossing back-to-back quality starts after making his debut on Mar. 19 against UConn.
Gusty winds off the Pacific Ocean made fly balls hang up and offense hard to come by on Tuesday, as the two teams found themselves knotted at 2-2 heading into the last of the seventh.
From there, Pepperdine threatened to blow the game open by loading the bases on a single and two walks.
Freshman right-hander Kevin Chander then entered the game for UCSB trying to stem the potential rally. He started off in fine fashion, fanning Matthew Kanfer on a slider off the plate for the first out.
Chandler couldn't escape the inning unscathew however, letting a run come in during the next at-bat on a wild pitch. The Waves got two more runs in the inning when JJ Muno's throw to first trying to complete a double play got past first baseman Kyle Plantier for an error.
UCSB threatened in the top of the ninth, getting two runners aboard and forcing Pepperdine head coach Rick Hirtensteiner to use his Saturday start Kiko Garcia to close it out. But Garcia ended up settling things down for the Waves, striking out Clay Fisher before inducing a game-ending pop-out from pinch-hitter Sam Cohen.
The Gauchos had already come back once earlier in the game, eliminating a 2-0 deficit with a two-run fourth inning. Muno started off that rally with patience and some excellent baserunning, walking to lead off the frame and then getting all the way to third on a pitch to the backstop.
Josh Adams, the reigning Big West Field Player of the Week, cashed in Muno with a sacrifice fly to halve the lead. Sophomore catcher Dempsey Grover followed that up with a single, and he would later come around to score on a sac fly as well, this time off the bat of freshman right fielder Michael McAdoo.
Left-hander Max Green received the win for Pepperdine after 3 2/3 outstanding innings of relief on a designated staff day. Garcia received his first save of the season in what was also his first relief appearance.
Kenny Chapman was tagged with the loss for UCSB, falling to 1-1 on the year after getting charged with all three runs from the seventh inning.
UCSB head coach Andrew Checketts missed Tuesday's game after being involved in a car accident en route to the field. He was transported by ambulance to a local hospital, and was released later in the day.
The Gauchos open Big West Conference play on Friday night at Long Beach State. First pitch from Blair Field is scheduled for 6:00 p.m.