SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif. – No. 9 UC Santa Barbara got the potential game-tying run just 90 feet away from home in the ninth inning, but the comeback effort ultimately fell just short as the Gauchos were edged 4-3 in Sunday's series finale at Baggett Stadium.
After an uneventful first turn through the Cal Poly (25-13, 7-2 Big West) lineup, the Mustangs got to UCSB (25-10-1, 5-4 Big West) starter Joe Record for one run in the fourth and a pair of runs in the sixth, with the latter rally putting them up for good.
Conversely, the Gauchos pushed across a run in the top of the first against Cal Poly starter Jarred Zill when junior center fielder Andrew Calica doubled and later scored on a Josh Adams RBI groundout, but the Mustang right-hander settled down after that and shut down UCSB's bats for the rest of his outing.
Holding a 4-1 lead, the Mustangs ran into trouble in the eighth when the Gauchos strung together three straight hits – including an RBI double from sophomore DH Dempsey Grover and a run-scoring single from junior outfielder Devon Gradford – off relievers Spencer Howard and Thomas Triantos.
Following Gradford's base hit, Triantos bounced back and got the next two batters to end the threat.
UCSB threatened again in the ninth when Clay Fisher singled to open the frame, one of his two hits on the day. The Gauchos' stud shortstop got to third base on a sac bunt and a stolen base, but Cal Poly closer Justin Calomeni struck out the final two batters of the game to finish off the sweep and earn his sixth save of the season.
Despite allowing just two earned with five strikeouts in 5 1/3 innings, Record was tagged with the loss to fall to 4-4 on the year. Zill received the win for the Mustangs to improve to 4-1. He allowed just one earned on four hits and a walk while striking out five in 6 1/3 innings.
Suffering their first Big West series loss of the year, the Gauchos are still ranked No. 9 in the NCAA RPI as of Sunday night. UCSB will look to snap its current skid on Tuesday afternoon with a 3:00 p.m. contest at St. Mary's.