March 17, 2013

Gauchos Drop Series Finale to Sacramento State

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. – The Gauchos cranked out 12 hits and seven runs on Sunday afternoon, their best offensive output yet in their three-game series with visiting Sacramento State, but it wasn't enough to erase an eight run first inning by the Hornets, who avoided the sweep with a 13-7 victory.

Five different Gauchos had multiple hits against the Hornets pitching staff, and they had little problem making contact with the ball, recording zero strikeouts as a team for the first time this season. Freshman designated hitter Robbie Nesovic extended his team-best hitting streak to six games – with multiple hits in five of those six games.

Sacramento State couldn't have asked for a better start to the game, sending eight batters to the plate before UCSB even recorded an out. After seven hits, eight runs, and a pitching change, the Gauchos were finally able to escape after Connor Baits got Hornets cleanup hitter Andrew Ayers to strike out swinging.

After falling behind 8-0 in the first inning, it looked like the Gauchos were ready to mount a comeback with a four run second inning outburst. Nesovic and right fielder Luke Swenson led off the inning with back to back singles, and then would both come around to score on a double from catcher Jackson Morrow. Morrow and Cameron Newell, who reached via walk, would later score as well on an RBI double from left fielder Woody Woodward.

However, the Gauchos were not able to stop the bleeding, as Sacramento State scored in each of the next three innings to extend their lead back to seven runs at 13-6. The Gauchos threatened again in the eighth, plating a run and putting runners on the corners, but a diving catch by Sacramento State center fielder David Del Grande in the left-center field gap off of a Jackson Morrow liner prevented more runs from scoring.

The loss snapped a three-game win streak for the Gauchos and dropped their overall record to 11-8. Sacramento's State win improved their record to 11-8 as well.

As the game went on, the Hornets had a more difficult time connecting against the UCSB bullpen. Freshman righty Hector Lujan had his most impressive outing of the season, throwing 2.2 scoreless innings, striking out a pair, and halving his ERA to 7.20. Junior southpaw Cameron Cuneo made his season debut, giving up no runs while facing two batters. For the second time in as many days, freshman righty Dylan Hecht threw a perfect ninth inning, striking out two and lowering his ERA to 0.75.

UCSB starter Greg Mahle was tagged with the loss, dropping his record to 3-2. The sophomore lefty was on the mound for much of the Hornets first inning explosion, throwing 46 pitches over a third of an inning.

Sacramento State starter Zach Morgan struggled as well, allowing four earned runs in just two innings pitched. Hunter Greenwood would receive the win for the Hornets, throwing two scoreless innings while allowing just one hit.

The Sacramento State offense was led by Del Grande, DH Chris Smith, and left fielder Justin Higley, who each had three hits. Lewis also scored three runs and drove in another four.

Next week, the Gauchos will take on Cal Poly in a three-game series, with Friday's and Sunday's matchups taking place in San Luis Obispo, Calif., and Saturday's game taking place at Caesar Uyesaka Stadium. For tickets, click here.