SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - After a taut, 9-8 win in 12 innings on Friday, UC Santa Barbara was able to exhale early and often Saturday in a 14-2 win over UC Riverside.
The win gives UCSB a three-game winning streak, its first three-game winning streak in Big West play this season.
The Gauchos (20-17-1 overall, 6-5 Big West) broke through for a run in their half of the first. With one out, Clay Fisher crushed a double to left center and then went to third on a wild pitch by the Highlanders' (15-22, 4-7) Cole Percival. An infield single by Tommy Jew scored Fisher, making it a 1-0 game.
UCSB struck for two more in the third. Fisher singled to left with one out and stole second. Jew walked on five pitches and both runners moved up on a ground out by Thomas Rowan. A two-out single by Drew Williams made it a 3-1 game.
Fisher and Jew teamed up for another run in the fifth. Fisher singled to center, stole his second base of the day, and scored when Jew lined a single up the middle.
Ledesma gave up his only run in the top of the sixth, but it could have been much worse. Matt Hardy opened the inning with double off the bag at third that trickled into left field. A single by Anthony Lepre chased Hardy home to shave the UCSB lead to 4-1. Dean Miller then lined a double down the right field line, sending Lepre to third with nobody out. Ledesma then knuckled down, recording back-to-back strikeouts of Robert Cruz and Connor Cannon and then inducing Dylan Orick to hit a weak bouncer back to him for the final out of the inning.
UCSB blew the game open in the bottom of the seventh, exploding for six runs, but there was a price to pay.
Marcos Castanon opened the inning with a line single to left. The next batter, Jason Willow, was hit in the face by a Percival pitch. Willow went down in the batters box where he remained for several minutes. Eventually, he was led off the field under his own power and Percival was replaced by Brenden Avventino.
Avventino ad difficulties for the word go. He walked Andrew Martinez to load the bases, gave up a sacrifice fly to Fisher, a two-run triple by Jew, a run-scoring single to Rowan and finally a massive home run down the right field line by Williams. When the dust settled, the Gauchos led 10-1.
Santa Barbara did its final damage in the eighth, scoring four runs on a pair of hits, a hit batter, two walks and an error. One of the hits was another RBI single by Jew.
UCR scored an unearned run off Josh Candau in the ninth to complete the scoring.
Jew finished the game going 4-for-4 with a triple, a walk, five RBI and two runs scored. In the first two games of the series, the sophomore is 8-for-9 with seven RBI, four runs scored, a home run, a double and a triple. Fisher was also 4-for-4 on Saturday with four runs scored, two RBI, a double and two steals, and in the first two games of the series he has gone 7-for-11 with seven runs scored, three RBI, a double and three stolen bases.
Ledesma (5-2) tossed 6.0 innings and allowed just the one earned run. In addition to getting out of the jam in the sixth, he ended the fourth with two runners on as well. The Gauchos' lone senior had six strikeouts and two walks. Chris Clements hurled two perfect innings in relief before Candau came into finish the game.
Lepre and Cody Sporrer each had two of Riverside's eight hits. Percival (5-2), the son of former California Angels relief ace and current Highlander head coach Troy Percival, twirled 6.0 innings, allowing eight hits, six earned runs, walking two and striking out four.
Freshman Jack Dashwood is scheduled to start in Sunday's series finale for UCSB. First pitch is scheduled for 1:00 p.m. at Caesar Uyesaka Stadium.