Gauchos Top Cal Poly in First Game of Important Weekend Series, 4-2

Austin Pettibone (Photo by Tony Mastres)
Austin Pettibone (Photo by Tony Mastres)

SANTA BARBARA, Calif.Austin Pettibone tossed eight solid innings and Dylan Hecht struck out the side in the top of the ninth to lead UC Santa Barbara past No. 17 Cal Poly in a Big West game Friday afternoon in Santa Barbara.  The game was part of the Blue-Green Rivalry Series.

Pettibone (4-2) bested the Mustangs' (20-7 overall, 3-1 in the Big West) ace, Joey Wagman (6-2), who had blanked the Gauchos (15-13 overall, 2-2 in the Big West) in a non-conference game two weeks earlier.  The big UCSB righty allowed six hits and a pair of runs while walking one in his eight innings of work.  Hecht was sensational.  After Pettibone allowed a single to Nick Torres to open the ninth, Hecht came in and struck out Brian Mundell, David Armedariz and Mark Mathias on 10 pitches to earn his third save of the season.

Cal Poly got on the board in the top of the fourth when Armedariz belted his first home run of the season in the top of the fourth to snap a scoreless tie.  Armedariz's blast was struck well, but it curled just inside the right field foul pole.

The Gauchos didn't wait long to tie the score as they responded with a run in the bottom of the fourth.  Brandron Trinkwon opened the inning with a single down the right field line, but he was picked-off first base for the first out of the inning.  After Robby Nesovic worked a walk off of Wagman, Tyler Kuresa lofted a single to left field, putting runners on first and second.  Luke Swenson lined a bad-hop single over Mathias' glove and down the line in right, scoring Nesovic and sending Kuresa to third.  One batter later, Kuresa was thrown out at the plate.  UCSB attempted a squeeze, but Wagman pounced on the ball and fired a throw to catcher Chris Hoo and essentially ending the threat.

Santa Barbara broke the 1-1 tie in the bottom of the sixth.  Trinkwon led off with another single.  Nesovic then hit a tailor-made double-play ball to shortstop, but Peter Van Gansen couldn't get a grip on the ball and both runners were safe.  Nesovic was forced out at second on a ground ball by Kuresa and then Swenson walked to load the bases.  A single by Jackson Morrow brought home Trinkwon to make it a 2-1 game.

The Gauchos added two more in the bottom of the seventh.  Cameron Newell and Woody Woodward started things with back-to-back singles to put runners on first and third.  At that point, Mustang coach Larry Lee summoned ace reliever Reed Reilly from his bullpen.

Reilly walked the first batter he faced, Trinkwon, to load the bases.  Nesovic then grounded to the shortstop, Van Gansen, who tossed the ball to second baseman Denver Chavez for a force.  Chavez's throw to first was not in time and it appeared a run had scored.  However, the umpires ruled that Trinkwon interfered with Chavez as he tried to turn the twin-killing, and both Nesovic and Trinkwon were ruled out while Newell and Woodward were sent back to third and second base respectively.

Newell and Woodward then executed a perfect double steal with Newell going to third and Woodward scoring.  Newell then scored on a two-out single by Kuresa to make it a 4-1 game.

Cal Poly got one run back in the top of the eighth when Van Gansen singled, went to second on a wild pitch, to third on a ground ball out and scored on a sacrifice fly by Jordan Ellis.

UCSB collected 12 hits in the game, 11 off of Wagman.  Kuresa was 3-for-4, while Trinkwon was 2-for-3 with a walk and Clark was 2-for-4 and made several outstanding plays at third base.

The Gauchos host the Mustangs in game two of the three-game series on Saturday afternoon at 2:00 p.m. at Caesar Uyesaka Stadium.  Tickets are available online or at the main gate.  If fans cannot attend the game, they can listen live on KZSB AM 1290 or on with the pre-game show beginning at 1:30.  Gerry Fall, The Voice of the Gauchos, will call all the action.