Gaucho baseball split the final two games of its three-game conference series with Long Beach State this weekend, pushing the team’s record to 17-17 overall and 4-5 in the Big West.

[media-credit id=16616 align=”alignright” width=”250″][/media-credit] With the series win, UCSB has won two of its three conference series so far this season, but a sweep at the hands of No. 8 Cal State Fullerton last weekend has the squad struggling to get back to .500 in Big West play. The team now holds the No. 5 seed in the Big West along with UC Riverside. No. 4 Long Beach dropped to 6-6 in conference play and 19-18 overall.

Sunday’s 6-2 loss snapped a three-game winning streak for the Gauchos, who might be showing signs of last season’s streaky play. Their three consecutive wins matched their season-high streak that began the season but was predicated by four straight losses.

LBSU’s Brandon Pinder tallied six strikeouts in Sunday’s game, allowing only four hits and two runs. He put away the first 15 batters he went up against and lasted 6.1 innings in the win, while Long Beach scored two runs in the first inning and three more in the third against junior right-hander Matt Vedo. Head Coach Bob Brontsema pulled Vedo early in the fourth after allowing a homerun to left field.

Friday’s and Saturday’s contests were different stories, with the Gauchos’ pitching finding success in 6-3 and 7-2 wins. Senior right-hander Greg Davis allowed 10 hits but no walks, shutting out the Dirtbags for 7.2 innings before allowing three consecutive hits that produced two runs.

The offense followed the same pattern, prefacing Sunday’s loss a seven-run slugfest on the 49ers’ starting pitchers. Shawn Stuart allowed UCSB to score two runs in each of the first two innings. Senior right fielder Mark Haddow drove in two in the win.

Just over halfway through the season and sitting in fifth place in the Big West, the Gauchos will need to turn things on if they are to surpass UC Riverside — which also has a 4-5 league mark — or catch any of the four teams in front of them. Road series against the Highlanders and Big West doormat Cal State Northridge are next up for the team before the regular season ends in late May.

First, the squad will host the Matadors for one game this Tuesday before setting off on a six-game roadtrip. Play against Northridge is set to start at 3 p.m. at Caesar Uyesaka Stadium.