After two rough losses characterized by low offensive production this weekend, the UCSB baseball team escaped with a 2-1 win against #27 UC Irvine on Sunday behind a complete, one-run gem of a game pitched by Gaucho junior right-hander Jesse Meaux.
“It’s the best I’ve seen from him this season,” Head Coach Bob Brontsema said. “He carried us again. It’s the [second] straight weekend where he’s stepped up and given us everything he’s got.”
The Gauchos dropped to 21-25 overall and 7-11 in the Big West after going 1-2 in the series, while Irvine improved to 32-17 overall and 12-6 in the conference.
Meaux has won two straight after his disastrous outing against UC Riverside at UCSB’s Caesar Uyesaka Stadium two weeks ago, where he allowed eight runs on 12 hits in four innings. His 8-3 record leads all Gaucho pitchers.
“I feel great about it, I’m very happy with my performance,” Meaux, who walked only two batters on the afternoon, said. “Overthrowing isn’t going to get hitters out. I knew I just had to play my game and pitch down in the zone.”
Meaux’s solid pitching has been especially valuable now for the Gauchos, who have lost three of their best hitters to injuries late in the season. In the first two games of the Irvine series on Friday and Saturday, UCSB only managed one run — off a sacrifice fly by junior right fielder Mark Haddow. On Sunday, senior Matt Valaika drove in both Gaucho runs with a two-out single through the left side in the top of the fourth.
“It’s tough, especially as a senior, to see guys go down after putting so much effort in the offseason,” center fielder Gunnar Terhune said. “It’s tough to get guys who haven’t played ball all year to put them in the mix.”
The Anteaters drove in their only run of the game after a one-out single to third base. With one out and a guy on second, Irvine’s Jonathan Hurst grounded into a double play to end the game.
“It was a nice defensive turn,” Brontsema said. “Irvine’s an outstanding team. They’re ranked for a reason. Today we finally got the big hit with two outs. It was the one thing we hadn’t got all weekend.”
On Saturday, right-handed junior Nick Loredo fell to 0-4 after giving up five runs in three innings. Irvine scored all of its runs with two outs in its 8-1 win on Saturday.
“You can’t give [good teams] any openings, or they take it,” Brontsema said.
In Friday’s game, UC Irvine’s Christian Bergman threw 7.1 shutout innings to lead the Anteaters to a 4-0 victory. UCSB’s left-handed ace, junior Mario Hollands, pitched a solid 7.1-inning effort, during which he allowed three runs (two earned) on nine hits. Although Hollands possesses the lowest ERA of all starters, his record dropped to 4-4.
“[That] was the one difference between [Sunday’s] game and Friday’s game: We got the big hit [on Sunday],” Brontsema said.
The Gauchos will face #11 UCLA in Westwood on Tuesday for the second time this season, before heading home for a three-game series against UC Davis on Friday.