SANTA BARBARA, Calif. – Tommy Jew hit a two-run, game-tying homerun in the bottom of the 11th and Clay Fisher hit a walk-off RBI single in the bottom of the 12th to give the UC Santa Barbara baseball team a thrilling 9-8 victory over UC Riverside in the series opener on Friday afternoon at Caesar Uyesaka Stadium.
Jew finished 4-for-5 at the plate with two RBIs and two runs scored while Fisher went 3-for-7 with an RBI and three runs scored to lead the Gauchos to their first extra-inning victory of the season. UCSB (19-17-1, 5-5 Big West) rallied from three separate deficits in the game, winning via walk-off for the second time this year.
UC Riverside (15-21, 4-6 Big West) took an early lead on a two-run homerun to left center by Anthony Lepre, but the Gauchos did not wait long to respond, tying the game with two runs of their own in the bottom of the second.
Michael McAdoo and Sam Cohen led off the frame with back-to-back singles and both moved into scoring position on a sacrifice bunt from Jason Willow. Armani Smith followed with a line drive up the middle for a base hit, bringing both runners around to score.
UCSB took a brief lead in the fifth inning after Jew singled, stole second, and scored on an RBI single off the bat of Thomas Rowan.
The Highlanders, however, put together four runs on four hits in the sixth, aided by two Gaucho errors, to regain the lead, 6-3.
UCSB kept up the offensive pressure and took advantage of a few UCR wild pitches to inch closer back in the game. Andrew Martinez stroked a one-out double to dead centerfield and advanced to third on a Fisher single to right. After a wild pitch allowed Martinez to score and Fisher to go from first to third on a heads-up play, another wild pitch allowed Fisher to cross the plate and make it 6-5 in the seventh.
The Gauchos stranded the tying run on third in the eighth, after a McAdoo double led off the inning, but were right back in it in the ninth after Fisher and Jew hit back-to-back singles to start the inning. With one out, UCSB executed a double steal to move both runners in scoring position, and yet another wild pitch brought home Fisher for the game-tying run. Back-to-back outs to follow stranded Jew, the game-winning run, on third and the teams would head to extras.
After a quick and scoreless 10th, UCR led off the 11th with a homerun to left and tacked on another with an RBI single later in the inning to make it 8-6.
With the heart of the UCSB lineup due up in the bottom half of the inning, the Gauchos came through as Fisher reached on an error to get things started and Jew blasted an up-and-in pitch over the scoreboard in left field for his third homerun of the season.
Alex Patterson pitched a one-two-three inning in the top of the 12th and in the bottom of the 12th, Willow got the rally started with a one-out single through the left side for the Gauchos. A Cole Mueller fielder's choice had him trade places with Willow at first before a Martinez double to left set the stage for Fisher. In his first game back at shortstop, the UCSB standout came through at the plate with a walk-off hit through the left side.
Patterson (2-2) picked up the win after striking out two in 1.2 innings of work while Jared Noonan (1-3) was handed the loss for UCR.
UCSB starter Chris Lincoln didn't factor into the decision and gave up five hits, just two earned runs and three walks while striking out three in 5.2 innings. Shea Barry and Kevin Chandler also pitched in relief for the Gauchos.
Along with Jew and Fisher's key performances at the plate, Martinez went 3-for-7 and McAdoo finished 2-for-6 with a run for a UCSB team that outhit the Highlanders 15-10.
The Gauchos continue the series with game two against UC Riverside tomorrow, Apr. 28 at 2:00 p.m.