SANTA BARBARA, Calif. – No. 16 UC Santa Barbara battled back and tied it after falling behind 3-0 in Sunday's rubber match at Caesar Uyeaka Stadium, but couldn't weather another three-run missive from No. 15 Cal State Fullerton in an eventual 6-3 loss.
Trailing 3-0 in the bottom of the fourth, junior outfielder Billy Fredrick laced a pinch-hit double into the left center gap to plate a pair and cut the deficit to one. The next inning, shortstop Clay Fisher and right fielder Devon Gradford pulled doubles down the line in quick succession to knot the score at 3-3.
But it was all downhill from there for UCSB (31-15-1, 10-8 Big West), as the Titans (32-17, 14-4) scored the go-ahead and eventual game-winning run in the seventh when sophomore lefty Kyle Nelson, with runners on second and third, bounced a breaking ball that deflected off catcher Dempsey Grover and to the backstop.
CSF sealed the win, and the series victory, with two runs in the eighth.
"I think it's good that we were competitive and battled back after falling behind early considering yesterday's result," said UCSB head coach Andrew Checketts. "It would have been easy to roll over and succumb to that pressure but we didn't, we kept battling. Unfortunately, we made too many mistakes in the end."
Nelson, one of the top relievers on the west coast, picked up his first loss of the year to move to 6-1. Trevor Bettencourt finished off the contest by retiring all five batters he faced, including a pair of strikeouts.
Unfortunately, UCSB's bullpen was one-upped by the Cal State Fullerton duo of Dylan Prohoroff and Scott Serigstad, who combined to toss 3 1/3 shutout innings while allowing just one hit, a single in the seventh.
Prohoroff, who earned the win, entered the game in the sixth and punched out Josh Adams to end the frame, then got the first two outs of the seventh before making way for Serigstad. The Titan righty proceeded to retire the final seven batters of the game in order, getting his fourth save of the campaign.
The result spoiled a solid start from Joe Record, who allowed two earned over 5 2/3 innings while striking out a career-high eight batters.
Though he was shaky early on, he got stronger as the game went along. He recovered from an RBI single in the third to strike out the side, then went the next two innings allowing just a single. He was lifted in favor of Nelson following a bunt single in the sixth.
His counterpart, Colton Eastman, also was pulled with two outs in the sixth. His start was a mirror of Record's, as he was dominant early on before faltering in the latter half of his outing. He allowed all three of UCSB's runs while striking out six.
UCSB will next be in action at 6:00 p.m. on Tuesday night at UCLA. UCSBGauchos.com will have a live audio broadcast of the game, accessible here. UCSB resumes conference play next weekend at UC Irvine, with both Saturday's (FOX Sports Prime Ticket) and Sunday's (ESPN3) games being televised.