DAVIS, Calif. - One of the more unfortunate storylines that have plagued the UC Santa Barbara baseball team this season is that every time it attains a statement win it cannot keep the rally going to make a truly spectacular run.
The same became true today as the Gauchos gave up a late three-run rally allowing the Aggies (11-21 overall, 4-6 Big West) to steal game one on their own turf by a final score of 4-3.
UCSB (17-16-1 overall, 3-4 Big West) now falls below .500 in Big West play for the first time this season since losing its conference opener against Cal State Fullerton. The Gauchos responded by winning the final two games of that series.
Getting back to this game, however, sophomore right-handed pitcher Chris Lincoln took the mound for his first Friday start of the year. Lincoln earned the spot after allowing just seven earned runs in 28.2 innings pitched as the Saturday starter.
Unfortunately, the Moreno Valley native was unable to take home the win even despite a fast start.
Before setting down the Aggies in order in the bottom of the first, the Gaucho offense handed their sophomore pitcher a two-run lead courtesy of an RBI double from sophomore center fielder Tommy Jew scoring Drew Williams from second. Jew was one of only five UCSB athlete that was able to tally a hit today. Jew would also come around to score later in the inning after a passed ball.
Santa Barbara added one more run to its lead in the top of the third. Junior outfielder Michael McAdoo started the rally with a one-out double that nearly left the ballpark entirely. He would score two batters later after Andrew Martinez knocked him in with a single down the left field line.
Despite the fast start on offense, however, UCSB was unable to sustain it. Four of the Gauchos six hits came in the first two innings and all three runs as well.
For much of the game after it was a scoreless affair, but UC Davis was finally able to counter in the bottom of the sixth thanks to an RBI fielder's choice drawing them within two runs at 3-1.
In the bottom of the seventh, UC Davis really broke the hearts of UCSB scoring just enough to get the win. After walking the first batter, Lincoln then threw a wild pitch advancing a UCD runner to second with no outs.
Aggies' Cameron Briggs then singled to right center to have runners on the corners with one out. RBI base knocks then went on to tie the game at three with a sac fly scoring Aggies' third baseman Brad Pluschkell giving them the 4-3 lead.
Lincoln was retired midway through the seventh earning him the loss on the evening despite having a solid stat line allowing five hits, four runs, two of them earned, with five strikeouts in 6.1 innings pitched. Kevin Chandler tossed the final inning and a half allowing just two hits.
In both the eighth and ninth, the Gauchos were able to work a runner on base by walk or hit by pitch, but were not able to knock a single hit to advance them any further giving them the 4-3 loss when all was said and done.
UCSB's six hits mark the eighth time this team was held to that mark or fewer in a single game. It is 1-7 on the year when held to six hits or less.
The good thing for the Gauchos is that they are currently 6-2 on the season on Saturday games having won their last six. If they can make it to seven, then they are still in business.
UCSB continues its series against UC Davis at 2 p.m. on Saturday at Dobbins Stadium.