A three-day trip to face lower-ranked UC Irvine turned into a three-game series sweep for the Anteaters and two shutout losses for the UCSB baseball team. The Gauchos fell to UCI 2-0, 2-0 and 5-4 on the road this past weekend in a Big West Conference series.

“Their pitchers did a good job of switching up pitches and keeping us guessing,” junior outfielder Brett Vertigan said. “But we were still one or two hits away from winning those games.”

With the loss, UCSB falls to No. 5 in conference standings with a 9-9 league record and stands at 23-22 overall. UC Irvine improves to 11-7 in the Big West (27-17 overall) and is currently tied with Cal Poly for the No. 3 spot in league.

The series began blandly for the Gauchos, who were allowed just four hits against UCI sophomore pitcher Andrew Thurman. Thurman, who holds a 2.61 ERA on the season thus far, threw six strikeouts in Friday’s series opener to add to his 6-2 record on the year.

“Their pitchers did a really good job of minimizing innings,” Vertigan said. “All of our hits were spread out. We just didn’t get hits at the right times of the game.”

UCSB was able to put runners in scoring position four different times throughout the game, yet could not get a foot past third base. Senior Kevin Gelinas saw action in his first weekend start since February, and though the lefty gave up just two runs in the fifth inning, it was enough to hand him his first loss of the year.

Saturday’s game provided similar results to the first, highlighted by another 2-0 loss for UCSB. Gaucho freshman lefthander Andrew Vasquez’s phenomenal performance over 6.1 innings may have been overshadowed by the loss, yet Vasquez was still able to lower his ERA to 1.69 by allowing just one run during his time on the mound.

UCSB was again able to manage just four hits in the game, two of which came from the bat of Vertigan. Vertigan, who has twice been named Big West Player of the Week so far this season, currently leads the team offensively with a .370 batting average and a .519 slugging percentage.

In the closing game of the series on Sunday, UCSB was able to put players past home plate four times, yet it wasn’t enough to match the five runs scored by UCI. Gaucho sophomore inf ielder Brandon Trinkwon led all hitters in the game with four hits in five at-bats, forcing the UCI pitching staff to switch up its gameplan.

“We actually got to their bullpen and were able to put some pressure on that first [pitcher],” Vertigan said. “Once we got him out of the game, it was kind of a big deal because once you get to their pen, it gets easier to get after teams.”

Digging in to the Anteater bullpen for 12 hits on 38 at-bats wasn’t enough for the Gauchos to overcome Irvine’s four-run inning in the fourth, as they fell 5-4 in the top of the ninth.

“We definitely pitched good enough and played good enough defense to win those games,” Vertigan said. “If we had played our game, we could’ve beaten them in all three games.”

The Gauchos return to practice this week to prepare for a three-game home series against Cal State Fullerton this weekend.