After four hours of play, UCSB was ready to go home. Senior right fielder Mark Haddow ended the Gauchos’ longest game in program history with his two-out walk-off home run over the center field wall to secure a 3-2 win over Pepperdine yesterday.
[media-credit name="Joshua Morton" align="alignright" width="250"][/media-credit]“That game was getting pretty long there at the end,” Haddow said. “It feels good to end it for the team and get a win after the tough weekend. I was thinking about getting a pitch I could drive, and he put it right where I was looking and I capitalized.”
UCSB improves to 15-16 overall with the victory while the Waves fall to 16-19. With the game threatening to be called due to the sunset, Haddow was the squad’s last chance for victory. The senior came up big, swinging on the first pitch he saw.
“I took a couple of steps out of the box and knew it was gone,” Haddow said. “It’s one of those feelings off the bat that you just know. It’s right up there with some of my other moments, and it was huge to end the game on that note and get some momentum.”
After Fullerton swept UCSB this past weekend, extending its losing streak to four games — all one-run losses, the Gauchos were in desperate need of a pick-me-up.
“To come back and play a game like this was pretty draining,” Head Coach Bob Brontsema said. “That was as big of a thing as any. You need something positive in your day so when you get in tough times you aren’t doubting yourself. This certainly helps a lot for the confidence.”
The bullpen also delivered a clutch performance for the Gauchos, pitching a total of 10.2 shutout innings in relief of starting junior Zak Edgington, who pitched 4.1 innings, allowing both of Pepperdine’s runs, one of which was earned.
No one was as important for the Gauchos as senior left-hander Nick Capito. The reliever pitched 4.1 innings of his own for UCSB, allowing just three hits on the way to his second win of the season.
“We just got swept by Fullerton and we felt we could have won all of those games,” Capito said. “Those were all heartbreakers and we really needed to bounce back today and get ourselves a win. I was just going out there throwing strikes and making them get out. I wasn’t feeling any pressure.”
Brontsema also mentioned senior right-hander Bryce Uhrig and freshman left-hander Cameron Cuneo coming in and getting outs in their shorter outings.
“We don’t win the game without that type of effort,” Brontsema said. “Those guys kept putting up zeros and it allowed us to get back into it. Nick Loredo also did well and bounced back. The bullpen was outstanding.”
Down 2-0 entering the bottom of the eighth, junior third baseman Ryan Palermo drove in the tying run with an RBI single, following senior centerfielder Ben Edelstein’s leadoff triple and senior second baseman Sean Williams RBI double.
Up to that point, Pepperdine sophomore left-handed pitcher Alex Najera had held the Gauchos scoreless.
“They brought in [Miller] and we hit him pretty well,” Brontsema said. “We haven’t hit left-handers well this year, but we were able to hit him hard once he came in.”
Haddow rounded out his day by going 4-6 with a walk to go along with his walk-off homerun. The 400-plus foot home run was Haddow’s fourth of the year as well as his 25th RBI, but none of the others were as important or uplifting as this one.
“That’s probably the worst stretch I’ve been through in my career,” Haddow said. “Just four tough losses and to get some momentum to carry us into the weekend is huge for us. We’re still in the Big West and getting this one is big.”
UCSB continues its home stand on Thursday when it hosts Long Beach at home. First pitch is scheduled for 3 p.m.