FULLERTON, Calif. – Behind Robby Nesovic's 6 2/3 inning gem and a stellar team defensive game, the Gauchos handed No. 4 Cal State Fullerton their first loss in conference play on Sunday afternoon in a 2-0 decision, snapping a 10 game winning streak for the home team in the process.
It was UCSB's first win at Goodwin Field since 2007 and the first time this season that the Titans have been shut out.
With the sweep-avoiding win, the Gauchos improved to 18-16 on the season with a 4-5 record in Big West action. The Titans dropped to 31-5, 8-1 on the year.
UCSB's offense was able to get on board for the first time in the second inning. Nesovic struck out on an 0-2 pitch to lead off the inning, but was able to reach first as the third strike evaded catcher Chad Wallach and reached the backstop. First baseman Tyler Kuresa then stepped to the plate and launched a ball that appeared to clear the right field fence -- the umpires originally signaled for a home run, but then ruled it a double after convening – to put runners on second and third with no outs.
An RBI groundout from Luke Swenson then made the score 1-0. The Gauchos pressured to put more runs on the board, but the inning came to an abrupt end when Kuresa was thrown out at home after attempting to advance on a passed ball.
The Gauchos would then strike for another run in the fifth, as Kuresa would score on a bases-loaded double play ball after UCSB put the first three runners of the inning on.
That two run lead would be all the Gauchos pitching staff needed as Nesovic led the way to UCSB's second shutout of the season. The freshman righty delivered the strongest start of his young career, allowing just four hits and pitching into the seventh inning while striking out a pair. He would end up rewarded with his first collegiate win, pushing his record to 1-1.
As neat as his final line looked, Nesovic actually had to pitch out of trouble a number of times, as the Titans were able to get a runner on in each of the first seven innings and eight of nine overall.
He got Carlos Lopez to fly out to center to escape a bases-loaded jam in the fifth inning, and then was the benefactor of a strong defensive day from UCSB, including a pair of double plays and a play of the year candidate from freshman third baseman Ryan Clark, who made a headlong dive to his right on a sharply hit ground ball, then quickly rose to his feet to throw out batter Matt Chapman at first to end the inning and save at least one run.
Sophomore lefty Greg Mahle entered the game with two outs and a runner on second in the bottom of the seventh inning, then proceeded to have one of the finest relief outings by a Gaucho this season, allowing no hits over 2 1/3 innings en route to his second save of the season.
After getting Cal State Fullerton center fielder Michael Lorenzen to pop up to end the threat in the seventh, Mahle went 1-2-3 in the eighth, and then allowed just one walk in the ninth before getting Lopez to ground out to first to end the game.
This upcoming week, the Gauchos will travel south to take on the University of San Diego Toreros on Tuesday before returning home to host Long Beach State over the weekend. First pitch on Tuesday is set for 6:00 p.m.
Before the game, UCSB Athletics and the Gaucho Fund will host a "Gaucho Huddle," welcoming UCSB fans to come together and cheer on the Gauchos.
The event will consist of a pre-game reception, held on the USD campus at Fowler Park. Beginning at 4:30 p.m., the reception will include food, beverages, and the chance to meet other UCSB diehards.
For more information or to purchase tickets, contact Andy Graham, Assistant Director of the Gaucho Fund, at email@example.com or at 805-893-3722.