NORTHRIDGE, Calif. – For the second straight week, Robby Nesovic led the Gauchos to a Saturday victory by doing damage both at the plate and on the mound, as the freshman righty chipped in a pair of important hits and a team-high two RBIs while turning in six innings of two-run ball as part of a 6-2 UCSB victory over Cal State Northridge.
Today's win, coupled with yesterday's 6-1 victory, clinched the series for the Gauchos, who improved to a season-best seven games over .500 at 27-20. It is the first time since 2001 that UCSB has won four straight series, as they have taken down UC Irvine, UC Riverside, and Long Beach State over the last three weeks.
The Gauchos' current four-game winning streak is tied for their longest this season, having previously accomplished the task from Mar. 1-4 against San Jose State and Saint Mary's.
UC Santa Barbara has now pulled into a three-way tie for third place in the Big West Conference with Cal Poly and UC Irvine, who are both nationally ranked and sport 12-8 conference records. Cal State Northridge fell to 30-20, 14-6 with the loss.
Unlike yesterday, UCSB didn't wait until the ninth inning to open the scoring. After singling to open the third and then advancing on an error, Jackson Morrow would come across after CSUN starting pitcher Calvin Copping made an errant throw trying to field a Brandon Trinkwon sacrifice bunt.
Like they have done all season, the Gauchos maintained their early lead, as they now hold a 23-6 record when scoring the first run of a game.
The next two times through the lineup, leadoff hitter Joey Epperson and Nesovic – hitting in the fifth spot – would combine to run up the score to 6-0.
Epperson started off the fifth inning with a solo blast to left field off the first pitch he saw in the at-bat. It was Epperson's second home run of the week – his walk-off heroics last Sunday being the first – with both coming on a 0-0 count.
Later in the inning, Nesovic singled in Brandon Trinkwon to put the Gauchos up 3-0.
After Epperson reached on a hit by pitch to lead off the seventh, UCSB managed to load the bases with one out following a pair of walks. Nesovic promptly unloaded the bases, lining a double to left-center field to plate a pair of runs.
Center fielder Cameron Newell cashed in Nesovic with an RBI single in the next at-bat. The UCSB center fielder matched a career-high with three hits on the day, the fifth time he has done so this season. He also extended his hitting streak to 13 games, the longest such streak by a Gaucho this season.
That six run lead would be more than enough for Nesovic, who turned in a quality start for the second straight weekend.
The La Mesa, Calif. native held the Matadors scoreless over the first six innings of the game. He got himself into a bases-loaded jam in the second inning, but got himself out of a sticky situation by making a nice catch of line drive comebacker off the bat of Nicolas Osuna.
Nesovic wasn't as lucky in the seventh inning, in which he led off the inning by issuing his only two walks of the game. UCSB head coach Andrew Checketts entrusted the game to the bullpen after the free passes, but the Matadors were able to scratch across two runs in the frame off of RBI hits from Osuna and shortstop Kyle Attl.
Nesovic ended the day with a line of six-plus innings pitched, six hits allowed and two earned runs allowed, two walks, and no strikeouts. He also received the win on the day, improving his record to 3-2.
Fellow freshman right-hander Dylan Hecht pitched a perfect ninth inning to pick up his conference-leading seventh save in Big West play. He has eight saves overall.
Copping picked up the loss for CSUN after allowing three runs – two of them earned – over six innings of work.
The Gauchos will go for the sweep of the Matadors on Sunday afternoon at 1:00 p.m. Sophomore lefty Andrew Vasquez will make the start for UCSB, with John Salas taking the ball for Cal State Northridge.