Arriaga Complete Game Gem Pushes LMU Past UCSB, 1-0

Austin Bush (photo by Nick Rogers)
Austin Bush (photo by Nick Rogers)

LOS ANGELES – Senior lefty Brenton Arriaga delivered a complete game three-hit masterpiece on Saturday night to hand Loyola Marymount a narrow 1-0 victory over No. 19 UC Santa Barbara, evening the season-opening series at one game apiece. 

The 6-5 southpaw pounded the strike zone all day with a four-pitch repertoire, throwing 71 of his 108 pitches for strikes. He was ahead in the count to almost every hitter he faced, and used his changeup and cutter to keep the UCSB lineup – which was solid in a 6-3 Opening Day win on Thursday – off balance all night despite the lack of an overpowering fastball. 

"You've got to give Arriaga credit," said UCSB head coach Andrew Checketts. "He threw a gazillion strikes with his off-speed pitches and did a good job of pitching up and down in the zone. We didn't do a great job at adjusting, and our swings were long with two strikes."

Junior shortstop Clay Fisher was the sole Gaucho to experience any offensive success against Arriaga, lining a solid base hit into right-center in the fourth and then smashing a double off the Blue Monster in left field in the sixth.

The rest of the lineup combined for just one hit – a swinging-bunt single by center fielder Michael McAdoo in the fifth – and struck out nine times. Arriaga was especially tough late in the game, sending down the final 10 batters of the game in order. 

Despite the offensive woes, it wasn't all doom and gloom for the Gauchos, who received a pair of solid performances on the mound. 

Junior lefty Kyle Nelson, an All-American closer last year making his second career start on Saturday, gave up just one run over four innings despite not having his best stuff. 

Junior right-hander Steven Ledesma, a Santa Barbara City College transfer, turned heads with an impressive Division I debut, allowing just three and striking out four over four shutout relief innings. 

He had a bit of a shaky start, giving up a pair of singles resulting in a two-on, one-out jam in the fifth, but he bounced back and got cleanup hitter Ted Boeke to wave at a breaking ball in the dirt to end the threat. Ledesma went on to retire nine of the last 10 batters he faced. 

"Steven did a really nice job, I thought that was the bright spot of the day," said Checketts. "He had to make some pitches with runners in scoring position and he did. His slider was good and his fastball had some action to it."

The Lions pushed across the game's lone run in the third on a rare error from Fisher, who's considered one of the top defensive players in the nation. Playing a Spencer Erdman grounder deep in the 5-6 hole, Fisher skipped his long throw to first baseman Austin Bush, who couldn't scoop it allowing nine-hitter Billy Wilson to come in. 

Wilson had reached with an opposite field single to left to lead off the inning, then advanced to third on a sac bunt and stolen base. He was arguably LMU's top offensive performer, going 2-3 with two singles. Right fielder Niko Decolati also had two base hits and a stolen base for the the Lions. 

UCSB and LMU will wrap up their three-game series on Sunday afternoon at Page Field. The rubber match is scheduled to begin at 1:00 p.m.