One game after handing first-place Cal State Fullerton its first loss in league play, the UCSB baseball team fell to the University of San Diego last night 7-5.
The Gauchos scored first with three runs in the top of the third inning, but were unable to hold off the Toreros as they scored six runs over the next two innings to take the lead and maintained it through the end for the win.
With the loss, the Gauchos fall to 18-17 but remain at 4-5 in the Big West in the non-conference match up. San Diego climbs to 21-15 with the victory and holds a West Coast conference record of 6-6.
Santa Barbara got on the board first in the top of the third inning when back-to-back singles by freshman third baseman Ryan Clark and sophomore outfielder Cameron Newell set the table for a two-run double by junior infielder Brandon Trinkwon. Then, with two outs, sophomore Tyler Kuresa drove in the third run of the inning with a double to right field.
The Toreros would not go quietly, however, and responded in the bottom half of the third. With two outs, senior left fielder Dillon Checkal singled to get aboard in front of USD’s powerhouse junior third baseman Kris Bryant. Bryant promptly drove a two-run home run into left field for the 16th home run this year, bringing San Diego to within one at 3-2.
In the bottom of the fourth inning, San Diego struck again putting up four runs thanks to an RBI single by junior shortstop Logan Davis and a three-run home run by senior catcher Austin Green.
In the top of the sixth, Kuresa hit a solo home run, his second of the year, to bring the Gauchos back within two. Bryant responded, however, in the bottom of the seventh with another home run, this one a solo shot, to bring his total to 17 on the season. The run was enough to seal the victory for San Diego, despite one last run from Santa Barbara in the eighth.
Following the loss, UCSB will return home to face off with conference rivals Long Beach State over the weekend. The 49ers are 16-18 this year, but are 6-3 in Big West play, which is good for a three-way tie for second place behind Fullerton.
Long Beach is currently riding a four-game win streak heading into Santa Barbara as they have just completed a sweep of UC Davis following a win against San Diego State last Tuesday.
Santa Barbara’s sophomore starter Austin Pettibone will look to get the Gauchos on the right track as he will take the mound in game one of Friday. In his last outing, Pettibone held Fullerton to just two runs in seven-and-two-thirds innings. Pettibone leads UCSB with 64.1 innings pitched and his 2.80 ERA is tops among the Gaucho starters.
Long Beach is the fourth-hardest team to score on in the Big West with a team ERA of 3.96 due in large part to junior pitcher Jake Stassi, who holds a 2.42 ERA in six starts, 10 appearances and holds a 4-1 record this season.
Game one of the weekend series begins at 3 p.m. Friday afternoon with game two’s first pitch set for 2 p.m. on Saturday and the final game on Sunday slated for a 1 p.m. start time, all at Caesar Uyesaka Stadium.
A version of this article appeared on page 10 of April 17th’s print edition of the Daily Nexus.
Photo by Mark Brocher of the Daily Nexus.