The UCSB baseball team picked up a big road victory yesterday afternoon against Pepperdine University, winning 5-4. The Gauchos bounced back to snag a win from the Waves as now both teams have gone into the other’s home field and taken a close win.
“We hung on pretty good [in this one],” Head Coach Andrew Checketts said. “We came out swinging pretty good, put some pressure on their starter offensively and Connor Baits gave us a quality start, going a bit longer than we had even expected him to go. He got in a little trouble early, but started to cruise after that.”
The Waves now fall to 18-13 on the season but maintain a 6-3 West Coast Conference record in the non-league game with UCSB. The Gauchos improve to 17-14 overall and 3-3 in the Big West, thanks to a stellar outing by freshman pitcher Connor Baits.
Baits threw six strong innings, allowing just three earned runs while striking out six to earn his first win of the year. The Waves starter, junior Matt Maurer, was the starter against the Gauchos last week as well, but the second time around did not go so well for the lefthander. Maurer allowed 10 hits and four runs through just four innings of work while recording just one strikeout and a walk.
The Santa Barbara offense was able to get to Maurer early as it scored twice in the top of the first. Sophomore center fielder Cameron Newell singled to lead off the game, stretching his hitting streak now to 10 games. He was followed up by a single by junior shortstop Brandon Trinkwon to put two runners on with just one out. Freshman designated hitter Robby Nesovic moved the runners over with a groundout and with two men in scoring position, sophomore first baseman Tyler Kuresa drove in both runners with a single through the left side.
“Having big bats behind you gets you better pitches and gets you on base and having Nesovic and Kuresa hitting behind me is great,” Trinkwon said. “It helps a lot being able to score early; when you do your confidence is up for the rest of the game. You already got some runs out of the way, so it’s easier putting up more later.”
Baits got into trouble only in the second and third innings. In the second, he allowed back-to-back doubles to lead off the inning and score a run followed by a two-out single to drive in the second. In the third inning, Baits started off well by striking out the first two hitters, but a base hit and hit batter set up an RBI single for sophomore catcher Kolten Yamaguchi, his second RBI of the day.
The Gauchos came back in the fifth when Trinkwon led off with a walk and Kuresa drove a 3-1 pitch into left field for two runs to put UCSB back in the lead. They would tack on an insurance run, which came in handy in the sixth when freshman third baseman Ryan Clark scored on a single by sophomore Woody Woodward and a Pepperdine error.
Next up for the Gauchos is a trip to Cal State Fullerton for a three-game weekend series.
A version of this article appeared on page 8 of April 10th’s print edition of the Daily Nexus.
Photo by Megali Gauthier of the Daily Nexus.