SANTA BARBARA, Calif. – No. 9 UC Santa Barbara rallied for a pair of runs in the bottom of the eighth and Kyle Nelson shut the door with a scoreless ninth as the Gauchos came back from a 4-0 deficit to grab the win from Nevada on Monday afternoon for the team's 13th straight win at Caesar Uyesaka Stadium.
UCSB (25-7-1) is now one win away from tying the longest home winning streak in program history, set in 1984. The loss wrapped up a rough west coast road trip for the Wolf Pack (15-19), who were swept at Fresno State this past weekend.
Sophomore lefty Kyle Nelson pitched 2 2/3 scoreless innings of relief to earn his sixth win of the season in as many decisions. UCSB's stud southpaw inherited a two-runner situation in the seventh but got two outs to end the frame unscathed. He then went on keep Nevada off the board in the final two innings.
"We showed poise today and we were able to get big hits when we needed them," said UCSB head coach Andrew Checketts. "Then Nelson was able to get some big pitches to give us some momentum. He was his usual awesome self."
Catcher Dempsey Grover ignited the eighth inning rally with a leadoff double into the left field corner, and from there strong baserunning and timely hitting helped the Gauchos take the lead for the first time all day.
Nevada pitcher Evan McMahan opted to try and get Grover at third on Billy Fredrick's ensuing sac bunt, but a poor throw and a strategic slide to the outfield side of the bag allowed the Gauchos to get the go-ahead run aboard with nobody out.
With runners on the corners, Devon Gradord slowly chopped one towards Nevada first baseman Jordan Pearce, but he couldn't come up with it allowing the tying run to come in. From there, a sac bunt pushed both runners into scoring position setting up Ryan Clark's pinch-hit sacrifice fly that brought in the eventual game-winning run.
That two-run rally in the eighth would have been for naught without UCSB's three-run third. Freshman infielder Tevin Mitchell notched the biggest hit yet of his young career in that rally, bringing in the Gauchos' first run with a double into the right-center gap, his first extra-base hit of the year.
After a pair of walks from Wolf Pack starter Anthony Martine loaded the bases, Grover fisted a base hit into shallow right-center field to bring in a pair and cut the deficit to one.
Nevada went up 4-0 in the second inning, but those ended up being the only runs they would score in the contest. The Wolf Pack's first two runs came in on a Justin Bridgman single, with two more coming in when UCSB starter Kyle Hatton's pickoff throw got away from first baseman Kyle Plantier.
Hatton settled down after that however, finishing the day with his third quality starts in as many attempts. He ended with two earned runs against on seven hits with one walk and one strikeout in 6 1/3 innings.
"He was in the strike zone except for that one inning," said Checketts. "He only had one walk, and he gave us a chance. Our defense has been playing great so if you're in the zone we're gonna have a chance."
Next up, UCSB will travel north to take on Cal Poly in a critical three-game Big West series. That series will start on Friday night at 6:00 p.m. UCSBGauchos.com will carry live audio broadcasts for all three games of the Blue-Green series.