Gaucho baseball’s three-game winning streak ended in a doubleheader this past weekend at Sacramento State’s Hornet Field, where the team lost 3-0 in the first game before falling 10-9 on the back end.
“It was a rough weekend,” senior center fielder Gunnar Terhune said. “We weren’t anticipating a rainout [on Friday], and we were stuck in a [situation] where we weren’t able to succeed.”
The losses mark the Gauchos’ last non-conference weekend series before Big West play begins against Cal Poly on April 9. After the losses, UCSB dropped to 12-10 on the season, while the Hornets improved to 10-15-1.
In the first game, left-handed junior Mario Hollands pitched eight innings and struck out seven in another strong outing for the National Player of the Year contender. However, Hornet freshman pitcher Brandon Creel, in his debut, capitalized with an arsenal of off-speed pitches and allowed only one hit in eight innings. Hollands fell to 2-2 with a 3.00 ERA after the loss.
“We depend on Mario. That’s our go-to guy,” Terhune said. “So I think we kind of came out flat, assuming that [the Hornets] were not going to score a run. [Creel] kept us anxious and off-balance. He might not have even thrown a dozen fastballs the whole game.”
The Gauchos broke out with nine runs in the second game of the doubleheader after plating five runs through the first two innings. Junior designated hitter Beck Wheeler, a San Diego native who leads all starters with a .366 batting average, hit a three-run home run in the second inning to spark the Gaucho’s offensive surge.
“The stat line shows 13 hits, but it should have been about 22,” Terhune said. “[The Hornets] were throwing quality strikes, and we had lots of guys hitting the ball hard.”
Junior right-hander Jesse Meaux struggled with his control on the mound, allowing four runs with two outs in the bottom of the first inning. After posting a 2.91 ERA in his first five starts, Meaux allowed eight runs in 5.1 innings on Saturday.
“Jesse wasn’t able to throw a first-pitch strike,” Terhune said. “Whether you’re playing against the best team or the hundredth-best team, you’ll get into trouble when you don’t have that type of command.”
A Sacramento RBI single off junior right-hander Nick Loredo in the bottom of the seventh secured the game and the series for Sacramento.
Before the Gauchos face Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo on Friday, they will play host to Loyola Marymount at 2 p.m. on Tuesday at Caesar Uyesaka Stadium.
“It’s going to take a lot of mental toughness to keep us going, but we’re [looking forward to conference play] because it’s an opportunity to show our opponents that we’re not what our record says.”