SANTA BARBARA, Calif. – Freshman infielder Billy Fredrick lined a pinch-hit double into the right-center field gap in the ninth inning of Sunday's rubber-match with Wichita State, scoring Andrew Calica to break a 2-2 tie and give No. 20 UC Santa Barbara its second walk-off win of the week.
Fredrick is off to quite the remarkable start to his college career. In three NCAA at bats, the Santa Clarita, Calif. native has had three RBI hits: a triple, a single, and today's double.
The walk-off win gave UCSB (13-3) yet another series win. The Gauchos have won or split their past 13 series dating back to last season, and have won nine straight series of three or more games. Both are the longest such streaks since the 2001 season.
Wichita State dropped to 12-6 with the loss.
Despite earning a no-decision, UCSB starter Domenic Mazza was solid on the mound against the Shockers, allowing one earned run and striking out seven over 6.2 innings. Junior left-hander Greg Mahle was even better in relief, tossing 2.1 scoreless innings for the win, his team-leading fourth of the season.
The decisive bottom of the ninth all started with Calica lining a base hit up the middle to start the frame. Designater hitter Robby Nesovic followed up that single by laying down a perfect sacrifice bunt down the third base line to advance Calica into scoring position. After intentionally walking right fielder Cameron Newell to set up the force play, WSU head coach Todd Butler elected to bring in closer Foster Vielock to face the right-handed Ryan Clark.
UCSB head coach Andrew Checketts countered by summoning the left-handed Fredrick. Vielock promptly tossed three straight balls before grooving in a fastball to make it a 3-1 hitter's count. Fredrick pounced on a fastball on the next pitch, driving it into the gap, where the WSU right fielder didn't even bother to field the carom off the fence as Calica easily scored.
Calica was involved in both of UCSB's walk-offs this week, as he hit the game-winning single in Tuesday's 2-1 triumph over Pepperdine.
The eventual win for UCSB was actually a come-from-behind affair, as the Shockers found themselves ahead 2-0 after four innings of play.
Wichita State opened the scoring in the third when leadoff man Tanner Dearman laced a triple into the right field corner before scoring on a Dayne Parker base knock in the next at bat. The Shockers plated another run in the fourth on a Chase Simpson sac fly.
Mazza seemed to improve as the game went on, and this was clearly evident after he allowed the seond run in the fourth. After the sac fly, the change-up specialist went on to retire nine of the next 10 batters he faced before making way for Mahle.
Joey Epperson, who assumed his old spot in left field on Sunday, started the Gauchos comeback with a fifth-inning solo home run off the left field netting. The blast, his third of the season, extended his hitting streak to 21 games. UCSB's leadoff man has now reached base safely in 28 straight contests.
The Gauchos would tie the score in the next inning. Second baseman Woody Woodward reached on a two-base throwing error to start the inning, and then was moved over to third on a Tyler Kuresa sacrifice. With Calica at the plate, WSU starter Sam Tewes skipped a curveball past his catcher, allowing Woodward to come home.
Tewes was solid otherwise, allowing one earned run and just three hits in his six innings of work.
The loss went to lefty reliever Aaron Labrie, who allowed Calica's single in the ninth. That was the only hit he gave up in 2.1 innings of relief.
After studying up for finals, the Gauchos will welcome the Wagner College Seahawks to Caesar Uyesaka Stadium for a four-game series starting at 3:00 p.m. on Friday afternoon. Wagner, located in New York City borough of Staten Island, is 2-11 this season.