Behind the left arm of ace junior Mario Hollands, the Gaucho baseball team beat UC Riverside 5-1 on Friday at UCSB’s Caesar Uyesaka Stadium, but lost 9-2 on Saturday and 10-3 on

Sunday in games marked by struggling offensive efforts and short, unproductive outings from the Gaucho starting pitchers.

[media-credit id=20037 align=”alignleft” width=”250″]Mario Hollands[/media-credit]

Senior starting pitcher Mario Hollands came oh-so-close to a complete game shutout on Friday, giving up the Highlander’s only run in his eighth inning of work.

“It was a very winnable series,” senior centerfielder Gunnar Terhune said. “We really thought we would be able to come out [Sunday] and throw quality strikes and put together some good at bats, [but] we just had an off couple of days. There just wasn’t a lot of productivity on the mound and on the plate.”

The Gauchos dropped to 19-19 overall and 5-7 in the Big West after the series, while the Highlanders improved to 23-14 overall and 7-5 in conference play.

“I thought Riverside outplayed us,” Head Coach Bob Brontsema said. “[Friday] we did a good job offensively, we were able to scratch something together, and we got really good pitching from Mario. If we got that type of pitching all three days we would have had a chance at winning the series.”

“Against Long Beach last Friday, Hollands allowed 10 runs on 15 hits and lasted only three innings. This Friday, he returned to the mound with a vengeance, allowing one run in a complete game, five-strikeout performance, improving his record to 4-3 and dropping his E.R.A. to 3.99. However, right-handed junior Jesse Meaux struggled on the mound on Sunday after pitching an eight-inning gem in his win against Long Beach last weekend, lasting only four  innings and allowing eight  runs and 12 hits.

“Jesse’s great, [but] sometimes he gets into trouble when he tries to throw it hard,” Terhune said. “He’s very effective when he takes a deep breath and pounds the strike zone. When you leave the ball up, you get hurt — especially at our park.”

Meaux added, “I wasn’t getting ahead on hitters. I fell behind, let that get in my head and gave them a lot of pitches they could hit. It would be easy to blame it on the umpires and stuff like that but I should do a better job of not letting [them] affect me.”

Riverside scored a run in each of the first two innings of Sunday’s game. With two outs and two batters in scoring position, junior right-fielder Mark Haddow jumped the fence to snag a potential double for the third out, stranding both Highlander runners and preserving the 2-0 deficit for the Gauchos. He then hit a line drive single to center field to lead off the inning, but junior Trevor Whyte grounded into a double play to empty the base paths.

“We didn’t capitalize on situations, get the key hits. It was frustrating,” Haddow said. “We still have an opportunity to do some things, but we’re going to need to play a little bit better.”

On Tuesday, the Gauchos will travel inland to play Cal State Bakersfield at 2 p.m., before hosting Cal State Northridge in a three-game series that begins at 2 p.m. on Friday. The team still has 16 more games before the end of the regular season.

“We kind of lost momentum after that first game,” Hollands said. “Hopefully we’ll pick it up next week.”