SANTA BARBARA, Calif. — On a team with 20 newcomers, a foursome of first-year Gauchos put UCSB over the top in a 7-2 victory over San Jose State, giving the team their third win in their last four games.
Sophomore center fielder Cameron Newell, junior right fielder Joey Epperson, and freshman utilityman Robby Nesovic combined to go 8-11 on the day with three runs scored, while freshman lefty Justin Jacome earned his first collegiate win in a seven inning, two run outing.
On a day in which the Gauchos hit .411 as a team, there were even more standout offensive performances: junior shortstop Brandon Trinkwon had a season-high three hits and a pair of RBIs, while first baseman Tyler Kuresa and catcher Jackson Morrow added RBI singles as well.
Freshman infielder Ryan Clark also picked up his first career hit with an eighth inning single, meaning that Clark, Nesovic, and Epperson combined for seven hits after entering the game with zero career hits combined.
Sitting at 6-4, the Gauchos will enter sunday's series finale looking to sweep behind sophomore southpaw Andrew Vasquez. The struggling Spartans fell to 2-8 with the loss.
Epperson and Nesovic teamed up to get the Gauchos on the board first. In the second inning, Epperson lined a ball that charomed off the glove of diving San Jose State third baseman Willy Reel and into left field for his first career base hit. He would later advance to second on a Peter Maris groundout. Nesovic followed that up with his first career hit, a rocket back up the middle that plated Epperson and gave the Gauchos a 1-0 lead.
The Spartans would answer right back in the top of the third, as Andre Mercurio and Tim Quiery would each collect an RBI single after shortstop Ricky Acosta started the rally with a double into the right field corner.
That was the only damage San Jose State was able to inflict on the Gauchos however, as Jacome had a spectacular outing in his third appearance as a Gaucho. Jacome effectively scattered nine hits over his seven innings — he actually gave up a hit in each inning — by keeping the ball on the ground. Over the first seven innings, the Spartans accrued 13 outs via the groundout. The Redlands, Calif. native also added three strikeouts and didn't walk a single batter throughout the game. For his efforts, he was rewarded with his first collegiate win, pushing his season record to 1-1.
Despite a solid performance from San Jose State starter David Russo — who ended the day with a line of two earned runs and nine hits allowed over six innings pitched with three strikeouts — the Gauchos were able to break through in back-to-back innings, starting in the fifth.
With two outs and nobody on in the fifth, UCSB's leadoff hitter Newell manufactured a peculiar run. Down 1-2 in the count, he hit a ball to the shortstop's backhand and just barely beat out the throw for a single, much to the chagrin of the Spartans who had already began to head to the dugout. With Woody Woodward up, Newell went from first to third on a wild pitch from Russo when catcher Jon Nelson couldn't find the ball. Two pitches later, Newell would come home when Nelson was handcuffed by a Russo fastball that ended up reaching the backstop.
The Gauchos would score the eventual game winning run in the very next inning utilizing similarly aggressive baserunning. Junior shortstop Brandon Trinkwon led off the inning with a single up the middle, then went from first to third on a Tyler Kuresa grounder, just beating the throw from first baseman Matt Carroll. Morrow would cash in Trinkwon with a line drive single to center field.
After Russo was pulled to start the seventh inning, UCSB parlayed a four hit rally into four runs off of the San Jose state bullpen, effectively putting the game out of reach. Russo would end up with the loss, falling to 1-2 on the season.
Freshman right hander Dylan Hecht threw two perfect innings to close out the game for the Gauchos, extending the impressive start to his UCSB career. In 8.0 innings pitched thus far in 2013, Hecht has allowed no runs, just two hits, and has struck out nine batters. He now leads the Gauchos in relief innings pitched and is the only pitcher on the staff to have not allowed a run so far.
Tickets for Sunday's series finale with the Spartans can be purchased here.