CORPUS CHRISTI, Tex. – Sophomore left-hander Ben Brecht tossed five innings of shutout ball for the UC Santa Barbara baseball team in its Saturday evening contest against Texas A&M-Corpus Christi at the Kleberg Bank College Classic, but the host Islanders scored a pair of runs late to pull out a narrow 2-1 victory at Whataburger Field.
Both teams' starting pitchers were on the top of their games in the contest, resulting in a 0-0 scoreline after six innings. In the top of the seventh inning, the Gauchos (1-5) became the first team to break through, as junior right fielder Michael McAdoo reached on a one-out walk and then came all the way around on a pair of throwing errors from Islanders third baseman Jackson Owens.
That slim lead proved to be not enough in the bottom of the eighth, as TAMCC parlayed a leadoff walk followed by an Owens double into the tying and go-ahead runs. The first score came on an RBI groundout to second base, which also moved Owens over to third. That fact proved critical as the next batter looked like he was going to bounce out, but instead reached on a UCSB throwing error that allowed the eventual game-winning run to come across.
The late miscue spoiled what was otherwise one of the better collective pitching efforts for UCSB in the young season.
In his first start of the season, Brecht got it going with his five shutout frames. It was a bit of a high-wire act for the 6-7 southpaw out of Wilmette, Ill., as the Islanders put a runner in scoring position in four of his five innings, but Brecht helped himself out with a career-high seven strikeouts to help escape multiple jams.
His most impressive Houdini act came in the fifth, as the Islanders were able to load the bases -- on an infield single, hit by pitch, and intentional walk -- with two outs, the most dangerous situation for either team to that point of the game. However, Brecht escaped unscathed by getting five-hitter Dalton Stark to swing through a 2-2 pitch for an inning-ending strikeout.
Brecht made way for junior right-hander Alex Patterson in the sixth, and the San Joaquin Delta College looked dominant out of the pen, rolling up a routine ground ball from the first batter he faced and then striking out the next five batters in succession. putting him in line for the win going into the bottom of the eighth. Unfortunately, he wasn't able to mow through the heart of the TAMCC lineup as easily, with three-hitter Harrison Dinicola working an eight-pitch walk before Owens clubbed an 0-1 pitch into center for a pivotal two-bagger.
Freshman right-hander Chris Troye was summoned after Owens's double, and though he was on the mound when the two runs came in, he could not have done a much better job for inheriting two RISPs and nobody out, striking out the first batter he faced and then inducing a pair of ground balls that could have ended the inning with UCSB still tied at 1-1. The Brentwood, Calif. native has now allowed just one hit, no earned runs, and struck out five in his 4 1/3 innings of action this year.
As good as the Gauchos' pitching was, TAMCC had an even better day as a staff, limiting UCSB to three hits while striking out 16 batters. Right-hander Aaron Hernandez struck out a dozen while allowing just one unearned run in his 6 1/3 inning start, and then right-handed reliever Cole Carter shut the door by retiring the final eight Gaucho batters of the game in order.
Cole received the win to improve to 2-0 while Patterson was dealt the loss to drop to 0-1.
UCSB concludes action in the Kleberg Bank College Classic tomorrow morning with a 9:00 AM PT bout against Louisiana-based Nicholls State.