Hosting No. 8 Fullerton in its last home series of the season, the UCSB baseball team lost two of three games to one of the best teams in the nation in a wild weekend affair.
UCSB split the first two games of the series and had a chance to win its first series against Fullerton since 2007, but fell short at the hands of a late Fullerton rally Sunday, losing 9-3.
“Once we got over the initial shock of playing such a good team, we realized we’re just as good as they are,” junior pitcher Jared Wilson said. “[Sunday] we fought them hard until the last minute. Obviously the first game you play against a team like that, everyone is going to be a little scared because of [Fullerton’s] past success.”
Heading into the eighth inning tied at three on Sunday, UCSB (24-24, 10-11 Big West) had a chance to win the series until Fullerton freshman outfielder Clay Williamson drove in the eventual winning run with a fielder’s choice groundout. The Titans then exploded for five runs in the ninth to close out the Gauchos.
Senior pitcher Matt Vedo was charged with the loss to even his record at 5-5, while freshman pitcher Grahamm Wiest picked up his fifth win of the season to improve Fullerton’s record to 32-15 (14-4 Big West).
Saturday’s game meanwhile proved to be the bright point in the week for the Gauchos as they easily defeated Fullerton 7-1 behind a strong bullpen and balanced offensive attack. Vedo struck out five in three scoreless innings for UCSB as he picked up his fifth win of the season.
“It was a really great win,” senior first baseman Joe Wallace said. “The pitching was great, the offense was great, defense was great, and when all three aspects of the game play well like that together, it usually ends up in a win.”
Wallace finished the game 2-3 with an RBI double and two stolen bases, while senior left fielder Lance Roenicke hit a two-run home run to power a Gaucho offense that scored 17 runs in the series.
“We didn’t do too good of a job [hitting] down at Irvine, so we made a commitment to come back up here and pick up our pitching staff,” Wallace said. “We worked hard to do that all week, and we were able to put some runs on the board.”
Friday’s game proved to be entertaining in the later innings, after UCSB bounced back from a nine-run deficit to eventually lose 9-7. Junior third baseman Marc Venning and sophomore shortstop Brandon Trinkwon each were 1-4 in the game with two RBI each to lead the Gauchos.
Senior pitcher Kevin Gelinas, Friday’s starting pitcher, was roughed up in the early innings, allowing seven runs and two homers in his 3.2 innings of work.
“I think it was a big morale boost for us because Fullerton is a pretty good program,” Wilson said. “We’re on our way to being on that level.”
UCSB next travels to face rival Cal Poly in a three-game series.