In a game that featured 25 runs and 28 hits, UCSB dropped a heartbreaker to #10 Pepperdine yesterday. The Gauchos finally got their bats going at home, but the pitching staff struggled, twice failing to hold a lead in a 13-12 loss.

“We swung the bats well and we competed well offensively,” Head Coach Bob Brontsema said. “We didn’t fold against a good team and you take the positives from every game and learn from the negatives.”

Santa Barbara (4-8 overall) started off strong, scoring two runs in the bottom of the first inning. Junior centerfielder Chris Fox led things off with a walk, followed by a single from senior right fielder Mario Lewis. After a walk to senior first baseman Robbie Blauer to load the bases, junior leftfielder Mike Zuanich got the Gauchos on the board with a single. With the bags still full, senior catcher Matt Anderson grounded into a double play, but Lewis came around to give UCSB a 2-0 lead.

As they have done so often this season, the Gauchos gave the lead right back in the next half inning as Pepperdine (14-4) scored four runs on five hits in the top of the second. The trend continued in the middle innings when Pepperdine followed a three-run Gaucho fourth inning with a six-run outburst in the top of the fifth. Gaucho relievers Kyle Brown and Justin Aspegren gave up all six runs while failing to record an out, before sophomore right-hander Matt Wade came on to finally get UCSB out of the jam.

The Gauchos tacked two more runs on the scoreboard in the fifth inning, before scoring twice in the seventh behind Blauer’s second home run of the season. With Pepperdine leading 12-9, UCSB loaded the bases with only one out in the bottom of the eighth. Zuanich roped a two run single to left to cut the deficit to one, before Pepperdine junior closer Jason Dominguez got the Waves out of the inning.

Pepperdine tacked on an insurance run in the top of the ninth, and it proved significant as pinch hitter Steve Domecus blasted a pitch off the scoreboard to get UCSB back within one with two outs remaining in the ninth. Fox had been the lynchpin of the Gaucho attack all day, but he struck out swinging to end the game. Despite the loss, UCSB left the field having had its best offensive game of the season.

“Your leadoff guy is critical to your offense and [Fox] has been getting on and making some things happen,” Brontsema said. “The top of our lineup with [Fox, Blauer and Zuanich] has done some good things, and we just need to put it all together. Offensively we did a lot of good things today.”

UCSB is back in action this weekend, hosting a nonconference series against Cal State Northridge (11-10) beginning Friday at 2 p.m. at Caesar Uyesaka Stadium.