UCSB baseball was provided with a much-needed boost in morale after defeating the No. 13 UCLA Bruins 5-4 on the road Wednesday night.
[media-credit name=”Rowan Byers” align=”alignleft” width=”202″][/media-credit]With the victory, UCSB rebounds to 21-21 on the season and closes its seven game road streak with a 3-4 record and a two-game winning streak.
“It was very important to get this win,” junior third baseman Ryan Palermo said. “It puts us back at the .500 mark and it gives us a boost to our morale for this weekend against UC Irvine.”
Freshman left-hander Cameron Cuneo pitched four innings of relief for the Gauchos while earning his first career victory. He allowed one run and five hits but was able to get out of big jams and keep the Bruins from opening up the game.
“That is the longest outing of his career right there, which was outstanding,” Head Coach Bob Brontsema said. “He got big outs when he needed it and he got his first win of his college career.”
Starting pitcher Nick Loredo gave up one run in his two innings before Cuneo came as relief. In total, UCSB used five pitchers to send the Bruins to a 3-5 record against the Big West after Tuesday night’s loss to Long Beach. UCLA is now 27-18 overall on the season.
“Our bullpen came in, threw strikes and made plays and they were solid,” senior center fielder Derek Eligio said. “This shows we have the talent and we have the team to compete at the best level.”
UCSB punched their way onto the scoreboard in the top of the fourth with Palermo’s RBI single to drive in senior right fielder Mark Haddow. The Gauchos went on to score three runs in the inning, aided by one of five UCLA errors.
UCLA scored a run in the bottom of the fourth before the Gauchos widened the gap in the sixth inning with Eligio’s two-run single, driving in Palermo who reached on an error. In total, the Gauchos scored three of their runs unearned.
“Some of those balls were hit very well and could have easily been scored as hits,” Brontsema said. “We got a big two-out hit from Derek and a big run producing ground ball from Joe Wallace. Those were big plays for our guys.”
The Bruins weren’t done however as they scored two runs in the eighth when sophomore center fielder Beau Amaral hit a two RBI single to close the gap with two outs in the inning. Haddow threw out Amaral as he tried to take second to end the inning and kill the rally for the Bruins.
“Getting that guy out at second really relieved us a little bit,” Palermo said.
Senior right-hander Brett Fick came in to close out the game for the Gauchos as he recorded his first save of the year in a perfect ninth inning.
“Our bullpen is pretty thin and he came in and looked every bit the part of a closer,” Brontsema said. “He came in, was very aggressive, threw strikes and overmatched them quite frankly.”
UCSB will return home for a three-game series when they host Irvine this weekend. First pitch against Irvine is scheduled for 3 p.m.