Despite leading the majority of the time this weekend, the UCSB baseball team was swept in a three-game series by No. 7 Fullerton, losing all three games by one run.
[media-credit name=”Josh Mortin” align=”alignleft” width=”166″][/media-credit] The Gauchos fall to 14-16 overall on the season (2-4 Big West), while the Titans continue their dominance in conference, moving to 27-9 (8-1 Big West).
“We felt going into the game that we could compete, and whether or not we believe it remains to be seen,” Head Coach Bob Brontsema said. “We certainly went toe-to-toe with them but unfortunately we let them off the hook.”
Sunday’s 5-4 loss summed up the weekend for the Gauchos, as they led 4-2 heading into the bottom of the ninth inning before senior right-handed pitcher Nick Loredo allowed the Titans to score three runs in a disappointing comeback.
Junior pitcher Matt Vedo started for the Gauchos, pitching a solid 6.2 innings while giving up only two runs. Senior Nick Capito then pitched 1.1 innings of relief, before walking a batter in the ninth and handing it over to Loredo.
“The other two days the bullpen did a good job, but today Nick Loredo wasn’t sharp,” Associate Head Coach Tom Myers said. “He fell behind in the count and paid the price.”
Saturday’s game proved to be just as disappointing for the Gauchos as they started hot with a 4-1 lead in the second inning before letting the lead slip away in a 5-4 loss. Senior pitcher Greg Davis pitched five innings, allowing five runs, three of them earned.
“It’s frustrating because those guys are going out there and battling for six or seven innings, and we want to be able to get those guys wins for their hard work,” senior centerfielder Ben Edelstein said. “Our bullpen has been doing a really good job all year, so I think our offense just needs to step up and keep adding runs the entire game.”
Senior centerfielder Derek Eligio led the Gauchos on Saturday with two hits and two RBI, but Fullerton was able to overcome their strong start for the victory.
Friday’s game set the tone for the series as UCSB received an outstanding performance from senior right-handed pitcher Jesse Meaux. Meaux pitched 7.1 innings, allowing three runs, one earned, in a 3-2 loss.
“Our bullpen has been good for us all year long,” Edelstein said. “But they were able to manufacture runs in the late innings in all three games. They are a very good team.”
Fullerton controlled the Gauchos’ offense, allowing only five hits in the game, two of those by junior designated hitter Lance Roenicke, who also drove in one of the two UCSB runs.
Brontsema and Myers both agreed that the team received quality pitching from their starting rotation in the series, which allowed them to stay competitive in each game.
“Jesse pitched very, very well and Greg competed for us,” Brontsema said. “Matthew was really good today and gave us a chance to win the game; we just couldn’t get the victory.”
Throughout the difficult series, UCSB showed life against a Fullerton team that ranks as one of the top in the nation. Despite losing all three, the Gauchos continue to remain confident that they can compete with the best teams out there.
“We knew going into it that we could compete with those guys,” Edelstein said. “All three games were winnable games but unfortunately, we were on the losing side of all of them. It is just a matter of finishing games and being able to win. That’s all we can take from this.”
UCSB returns home on Tuesday when they will take on Pepperdine in a nonconference game. First-pitch is scheduled for 3 p.m. at Caesar Uyesaka Stadium.