SANTA BARBARA,Calif. – A two-run, first inning blast off the bat of Brandon Trinkwon and an 8 1/3 inning gem from Austin Pettibone proved to be the decisive factors in the Gauchos' narrow 2-1 victory over the visiting Long Beach State Dirtbags on Friday afternoon.
The Gauchos pulled to even in conference play with the win, as they improved to 19-17, 5-5. Long Beach State fell to 16-19, 6-4 with the loss.
Trinkwon's one-on, one-out homer in the first capped off an inning that suggested an offensive game was in store. LBSU starter Shane Carle struggled mightily with his command at the outset, reaching a three-ball count to the first three batters he faced. After Woody Woodward walked with one out, Trinkwon sat on a 3-1, belt-high fastball, sending a moon shot over the right field fence and giving the Gauchos a 2-1 lead.
Both pitching staffs were nails from there on out, combining to give up zero runs over the rest of the game.
For the Gauchos, sophomore righty Austin Pettibone delivered yet another quality start, his seventh of the season. The Yorba Linda, Calif. native scattered eight hits over 8 1/3 innings of work and striking out five – one off his season-high – while walking just one batter.
Despite being over 100 pitches, Pettibone impressed the most in the final three innings of the game, in which he failed to allow a run despite having runners in scoring position each time.
After surrendering a pair of singles in the seventh, he struck out pinch hitter Brennan Fulkerson with a fastball on the outside corner to end the inning. Then in the eighth, Pettibone induced back-to-back groundouts after the Dirtbags threatened again with a one-out double off the bat of Jeff McNeil, who led the LBSU offense by going 3-4 and scoring their only run.
Pettibone allowed a leadoff double in the ninth to Ino Patron, then was lifted after getting third baseman Juan Avila to fly out to center.
Freshman righty Dylan Hecht came in to close it out for the Gauchos in possibly his toughest collegiate save scenario yet – the tying run on third with less than two outs.
Hecht responded by striking out the first batter he faced in Richard Prigatano, who reached after swinging on a 1-2 slider in the dirt that squeaked past catcher Jackson Morrow.
Undeterred, Hecht then got pinch hitter Zack Belanger to foul out to Ryan Clark before striking out Zack Rivera to end the game and earn his fourth save of the season.
Pettibone improved to 5-2 after the victory and lowered his ERA to a paltry 2.60.
Carle picked up the loss for Long Beach State, falling to 2-6.
Trinkwon ended the day going 2-4 with a pair of RBIs, the second consecutive game he has finished with multiple hits and multiple runs batted in. Junior left fielder Joey Epperson also had a nice day with the bat, stroking a pair of singles in his four at-bats.
Long Beach State scored their only run in the first inning after first baseman Jeff Yamaguchi hit a sacrifice fly to score McNeil, who had doubled to right field to lead off the game.
The Gauchos and Dirtbags will resume their three-game series tomorrow afternoon, with UCSB's Justin Jacome opposing LBSU's Jake Stassi. First pitch is set for 2:00 p.m.