The UCSB baseball team maintained its consistency, dropping two of three games over the weekend at UC Irvine. The Gauchos have won just one game in each of their first three Big West series.
Santa Barbara (16-20 overall, 3-6 in the Big West) dropped Friday’s opener 12-2 and was defeated 14-4 in the Sunday finale, sandwiching an 8-7 come-from-behind win in between. The squad has posted a 2-5 mark on its current eight-game road trip and is 7-14 away from home this year.
“They pitched very well and executed very well and out-played us,” Head Coach Bob Brontsema said.
The Anteaters wasted no time getting their offense rolling, plating three runs in the bottom of the first in the series opener off junior pitcher Andy Graham. After a run-in the second, Irvine added three more in the sixth to take a 7-1 lead and chase out the Gaucho starter before exploding for five more runs in the eighth.
Even more impressive than Irvine’s bats was junior starting pitcher Justin Cassel, who came within one out of throwing a complete game. Cassel allowed two runs and struck out a career-high 15 in picking up his fourth win of the year.
“[Cassel] commanded the zone pretty well and made us look silly,” Brontsema said. “He threw three [different] pitches for strikes. That is something you’ll see a lot on Fridays in the Big West.”
The Gauchos kept things close Saturday until Irvine scored twice in the sixth and three times in the seventh to take a 7-3 lead. But the Anteaters replaced freshman pitcher Scott Gorgen in the ninth and UCSB teed off against the bullpen, putting five runs on the board to take an 8-7 lead. Sophomore second baseman Alden Carrithers’ two-run single to tie the game highlighted the rally. Junior reliever Justin Segal allowed one unearned run over three innings to pick up the win.
“[The rally] was very impressive considering we hadn’t been scoring much,” Brontsema said. “We came from nowhere and made the plays. We kept executing offensively one after another and that’s what you have to do to come back from a deficit like that. It says a lot about the guys’ character and effort.”
Irvine again dominated both on the mound and in the batter’s box in the series finale Sunday. The Anteaters finished with 15 hits and scored five runs in both the fifth and eighth innings to put the rubber game away. The offensive help was more than enough for junior All-American closer Blair Erickson as he allowed two runs through six innings to pick up his fourth win.
Santa Barbara will close out their eight-game road trip with a visit to UCLA on Tuesday before returning home to face Cal State Northridge this weekend.