Cal State Fullerton took game one of this weekend’s three-game series at Goodwin Field with a final score of 8-4 highlighted by starting RHP junior Connor Seabold’s (8-4, 2.99 ERA) command on the mound with ten strikeouts on the day, shutting out the Gauchos offense completely after the third inning.
UCSB has lost four in a row for an overall record of 20-26 and is 6-10 in Big West while the No. 15 nationally ranked Titans are now 30-16 overall, 11-5 in the conference, and riding a three-game winning streak.
The Gauchos were hot early, plating two both in the first and third innings for a total of four runs, but Fullerton answered with four of their own to even the score at the bottom of the third inning.
All four UCSB runs were accumulated by home runs: a two-run jack from junior Austin Bush in the top of the first, and two individual blasts from freshman Armani Smith and sophomore Sam Cohen in the third. But from the third inning on, the Gauchos created not so much as one hit.
Starting on the hill for Santa Barbara was junior LHP Kyle Nelson (6-4, 4.88 ERA) who struck out five but allowed eight runs over five and two-thirds innings to take the loss.
The first of the Titans eight runs was scored in the bottom of the first when junior center fielder Scott Hurst doubled to right center, advanced to third on a wild pitch, and went home on a throwing error from UCSB catcher Dempsey Grover.
After a scoreless second inning from both teams and the two homers from Smith and Cohen in the top of the third to make it 4-1 Gauchos, Hurst got himself another RBI in the bottom of the inning with a single up the middle to score junior left fielder Chris Prescott. CSF Freshman Sahid Valenzuela then followed with a shot to left to score him and Hurst, tying it 4-4.
Innings four and five were entirely scoreless as well, but the Titans broke the even score wide open in the bottom of the sixth to bring in four more.
Fullerton senior shortstop Timmy Richards had the go-ahead RBI single to left, plating junior first baseman Dillon Persinger. Then junior catcher Chris Hudgins stepped up with two outs and went deep with a three-run homer to add some insurance.
This carried the Titans to a victory, as the score remained 8-4 from the last out of the sixth all the way through the ninth after Nelson was relieved by junior RHP Steven Ledesma (1-5, 5.77 ERA), who was then followed by freshman RHP Liam Steigerwald (0-0, 0.00 ERA).
Ace Noah Davis is returning to UCSB’s rotation, after having been out on injury, for Saturday evening’s game at 7 p.m. which will be aired live on FOX Sports Prime Ticket.
The Gauchos still have the potential to win this series and damage Cal State Fullerton’s chances at locking down a region bid with Cal Poly still just one game behind the Titans in Big West standings, but they will need to find some inspiration at the plate to do so.