Gauchos Edged 2-1 in Midweek Pitcher's Duel at UCLA

Greg Mahle (Photo by Tony Mastres)

LOS ANGELES – Starting pitchers Justin Jacome and Cody Poteet engaged in an extremely tight pitcher's duel on Tuesday night, but No. 8 UCLA ultimately ended up on top, defeating the Gauchos 2-1 at Jackie Robinson Stadium.

With the loss, UCSB fell to 31-23 on the season, while UCLA improved to 38-15.

Cleanup hitter Tyler Kuresa got the Gauchos on the board first with a first inning RBI single to left-center field, scoring Joey Epperson, who reached after getting hit by the first pitch of the game. It was just the seventh time this season that the Gauchos lost when scoring the first run, compared with 27 wins.

UCLA's first two runners in the bottom half of the first reached on a bunt single and an error, respectively, but the Gauchos escaped damage when Jacome picked off a runner at second base on two consecutive plays before inducing an Eric Filia flyout.

The Bruins were successful in eliminating UCSB's early lead in the second inning, as Pat Valaika lined a triple into the right-center gap before scoring on a Kevin Williams single.  

In the decisive sixth inning, Brian Carroll and Kevin Kramer led off with back-to-back singles, the second time in the game that both had reached with nobody out. After a Filia sac bunt, the Bruins plated the eventual  game-winning run on a sacrifice fly to right field off the bat of Valaika.

Jacome departed the game after the sacrifice fly, ending the day with a line of two runs and six hits allowed over 5 2/3 innings pitched with a pair of strikeouts and one base on balls. He ended up a tough-luck loser, falling to 5-3.

His counterpart, UCLA's Cody Poteet, has a standout performance, allowing just one hit over six innings. He retired the final 14 batters he faced, improving to 4-6 on the year.

UCSB was able to get a runner on in each of the final three frames, but the Bruins bullpen would bend and not break, pitching out of trouble each time.  

UCLA closer David Berg picked up his 17th save of the season after retiring Woody Woodward for the last out.

Sophomore lefty Greg Mahle was spectacular in relief, allowing no hits while striking out a pair of 2 1/3 innings.

The Gauchos will conclude their Big West Conference schedule this weekend when they head north to take on UC Davis. UCSB currently maintains a 14-10 record in conference play and can finish as high as second place. In a departure from the usual schedule, this weekend's games will take place from Thursday to Saturday instead of from Friday to Sunday.

Austin Pettibone will be on the bump for the Gauchos, with first pitch coming at 2:30 p.m.

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