No. 19 UCSB Stumbles to 3-1 Defeat in UCR Series Opener

Andrew Calica (photo by Vince Agapito)
Andrew Calica (photo by Vince Agapito)

SANTA BARBARA, Calif.  No. 19 UC Santa Barbara managed just one run against UC Riverside starter Austin Sodders in Thursday afternoon's series opener at Caesar Uyeaska Stadium, falling by a score of 3-1.

Sodders, a junior left-hander,  gave up a just a single unearned run in the fifth inning while holding UCSB (36-17-1, 12-10 Big West) to one hit through the first four frames of the contest. Over seven full, he ended up giving up six hits with a pair of walks and one strikeout. 

UCR (25-28, 11-11) went up 1-0 in the first on an unearned run and then stretched its lead to 3-0 with a two-run, five-hit fifth that chased UCSB starter Noah Davis from the game. 

Davis, making just his second start in the last four weeks after battling a toe injury, gave up just one earned run over four-plus innings. 

For someone who was consistently pitching out of the stretch – the leadoff man reached in four of his five innings – he did extremely well for himself, stranding a pair of runners in both the second and third frames. It was the first time the freshman right-hander pitched more than an inning since Apr. 23. 

The loss spoiled a near-spotless relief outing from Kevin Chandler, who turned in four innings of shutout, one-hit ball. With a pair of standout appearances under his belt in the past week, Chandler one-upped himself by retiring the first 11 batters he faced on Thursday.

He didn't run into trouble until he had two outs in the ninth following Mark Contreras's comebacker single, but he recovered to get an Aaron Cisneros flyout to end the inning unscathed. 

Unfortunately for the Gauchos, UCR's bullpen was up to the task in preserving its lead, as Jared Morton and Alex Fagalde each pitched 1-2-3 innings to close it out. 

Fagalde, who received his third save of the year, was supported by a highlight reel play from right fielder Austin Colvin with one out in the ninth, as he made a leaping catch over the right field wall to rob UCSB's Billy Fredrick of what would have been his first career home run.

Colvin also had three singles and scored a pair of runs. He scored the Highlanders' first run on a sac fly after leading off with a base hit in the first, going from first to third on an errant pickoff throw from Davis.  

UCR – who had no extra-base hits on Thursday – nickle-and-dimed UCSB for a pair in the fifth, with the first four batters of the inning reaching on singles. The last base hit in that string brought in the eventual game-winning run before the Highlanders added another run on a sac fly.

Andrew Calica (3-4) and JJ Muno (2-2, reached base four times) both had impressive days with the bat, but the duo combined for five of UCSB's six hits. Calica drove in the Gauchos' sole run of the game in the fifth with a solid base hit into right-center to bring in Tevin Mitchell

UCSB will look to even up the series on Friday at 3:00 p.m. behind ace Shane Bieber, who leads the Big West with 10 wins. He will be opposed by righty Ricky Delgado (1-7, 5.30 ERA).