It was a one-sided affair from beginning to end in yesterday’s game between the UCSB baseball team and Pepperdine. After taking a two-run lead in the first inning, the Gauchos surrendered nine unanswered runs to the Waves and lost 12-5.
UCSB drops to 29-16-1 overall after the non-conference loss as its Big West mark remains untouched at 9-12. With the defeat, the Gauchos have now lost four of their last five road games. Pepperdine pushes its winning streak to three games and is now 35-14 overall on the year.
Santa Barbara now finds itself in serious danger of missing out on the NCAA tournament with the result.
Already out of contention of capturing the conference title and with an RPI of 63, UCSB must find a way of improving its rank to within the top 45 in order to have a viable shot at repeating last year’s trip to the postseason. The Gauchos will have to win their six remaining games to do so.
Already in desperation mode entering the game, Head Coach Andrew Checketts opted for a pitching change in the first inning after sophomore starting pitcher Domenic Mazza gave up UCSB’s 2-0 lead on a RBI groundout and a homerun.
Sophomore designated hitter/relief pitcher Greg Mahle came in to stop the bleeding, but not before he ran into trouble in the fourth inning.
With UCSB down by a run, Mahle allowed the runner on second base to score on a double down the left field line, forcing Checketts to make another pitching change.
Pepperdine began separating itself from there on despite sophomore closer Dillon Tate taking over on the mound. The right-hander salvaged the inning by allowing only one more batter to cross the plate on a wild pitch. However, Pepperdine extended its lead to 6-2.
The game got even uglier for the Gauchos after that. After the Waves managed only one run on a bases-loaded situation in the fifth inning, they broke the game completely open in the next three innings.
Senior relief pitcher Cameron Cuneo took over in the sixth and loaded the bases with one out. Cuneo then walked the next batter before Checketts made another call to the pen.
The move did not pay off as the next batter also walked with the bases loaded. In total, the Waves earned two runs on only one hit in that inning.
While UCSB attempted to find the right combination on the mound, the Waves’ sophomore starting pitcher Jackson McClelland was in complete control of his game.
Through six innings of work, McClelland allowed only two runs on five hits, striking out seven batters and walking only two to improve his record to 7-3.
Santa Barbara put an end to its scoring drought in the top half of the seventh with a three-run inning.
Sophomore third baseman Robby Nesovic had an infield single with the bases loaded and two outs to earn the first run and junior right fielder Cameron Newell hit a two-run single to tack on more runs for UCSB.
Pepperdine put a stamp to the game in the bottom half of the inning with a two-run homerun that pushed its run total into the double-digit range. With one more run in the eighth, the Waves finished the game with a total of 12 runs.
Santa Barbara did have standout performances from two of its players. Junior shortstop Peter Maris hit 2-5 and Nesovic went 2-4 from the plate and one of three Gauchos to earn at least one RBI in the game.
UCSB plays again this weekend against San Francisco in a non-conference series.
A version of this article appeared on page 9 of May 14, 2014’s print edition of the Daily Nexus.
Photo by Cameryn Brock of the Daily Nexus.