This weekend the UCSB baseball team played host to fellow Big West rivals Long Beach State and came away with a series win going 2-1. Long Beach had won four in a row leading up to the trip but was beaten by the Gauchos 2-1 Friday afternoon to end the streak. UCSB would go on to win game two as well, winning 5-4, before dropping the series finale 8-4.
“Long Beach has got a storied program, so anytime you take two out of three from them you can call that a good weekend,” Head Coach Andrew Checketts said. “I think though, when we’re in a situation where we have an opportunity to sweep people that we need to do that. We are trying to make a run here for the post season and a sweep definitely would have helped out our cause.”
With the two wins the Gauchos improve to 20-18 on the year and 6-6 in the Big West while Long Beach falls to 17-20 and is also 6-6 in the Big West to keep a tie in the middle of the standings.
Friday’s game was a pitcher’s duel that saw the only scoring in the first inning. Junior second baseman Jeff McNeil doubled to lead off the game and two productive outs brought him in to score the only Long Beach run of the day.
In the Gauchos’ half of the first inning, sophomore second baseman Woody Woodward walked and junior shortstop Brandon Trinkwon hit a two-run home run into right field for the only two runs UCSB would score.
From that point on, both pitchers were in total control. Long Beach junior starting pitcher Shane Carle pitched six and a third innings, allowing just the two runs on seven hits. The bullpen went on to pitch an inning and two thirds of hitless relief work while striking out four.
Sophomore starting pitcher Austin Pettibone showed why he is the Gauchos’ ace. Pettibone allowed only one run in the first and cruised through eight and a third innings, striking out five in the process to improve to 5-2 on the year. Freshman reliever Dylan Hecht came in to get the last two outs, both strikeouts, to collect his fourth save on the year.
On Saturday, Santa Barbara came away with another one-run victory in walk-off fashion. The two teams exchanged the lead in the second, third and fourth innings until Long Beach put up a three spot in the sixth to take the lead on a three-run home run.
The Gauchos came back with one run in the eighth to tie it up late before a walk-off single by sophomore centerfielder Cameron Newell ended it in the bottom of the ninth to a score of 5-4.
On Sunday, reigning Big West Pitcher of the Week in freshman Robby Nesovic took the mound for the Gauchos to try and complete the sweep. Nesovic was roughed up for seven runs, six earned, through just two and a third innings.
“We thought we had [this] since Nesovic went out last week and was really good — he threw the ball well at Fullerton but he wasn’t able to repeat his performance,” Checketts said. “We will have to go back to the drawing board and figure out why and see what we need to change in his routine to get him more dialed in. He just wasn’t dialed in today. He was elevated and struggled with his breaking ball.”
The Gauchos could not get the offense going until the later innings when they put up two runs in both the sixth and the seventh innings.
Nesovic helped his own cause when he homered in the sixth for the Gauchos first run.
Trinkwon, who hit his second home run of the weekend, also drove in his fourth run of the weekend in the bottom of the seventh. Over the last four games, Trinkwon has really turned it on, as he is five for his last 15 with six RBI.
“I’ve just been trying to stay more simple and short to try to help my team,” Trinkwon said. “I have got into a couple counts where I could actually swing it and wasn’t afraid to, and I helped the team out.”
Next up for UCSB will be a rematch with the University of San Diego this Wednesday afternoon at 3 p.m. at Caesar Uyesaka Stadium.
A version of this article appeared on page 10 of April 22nd’s print edition of the Daily Nexus.
Photo by Mark Brocher of the Daily Nexus.