No. 10 Gauchos Stymied by Hawai'i in Big West Opener, 3-1
SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - Hawai'i's Matt Cooper hurled a complete game and allowed just one run as the visiting Rainbow Warriors topped 10th-ranked UC Santa Barbara 3-1 in the Big West Conference opener for both teams on Friday afternoon.
Cooper (3-1) scattered six hits over nine innings, never allowing more than one in an inning, and he carried a shutout into the seventh before the Gauchos finally broke through for their sole run.
UCSB's Justin Jacome (4-1) suffered his first defeat of the season, giving up 11 hits and three earned runs over 6.1 innings.
UH (13-12, 1-0) got on the board in the second inning. Marcus Doi dropped a single into center field and after Juliene Jones struck out swinging, Trevor Podratz and Adam Hurley hit back-to-back singles up the middle, chasing Doi home and making it a 1-0 game.
The Rainbow Warriors made it 2-0 an inning later on three more singles. With one out Kaeo Aliviado and Jordan Richartz each got base hits to center, and after Marc Flores popped-up, Doi got his second of three hits, a single to right, to score Aliviado.
UH scored its final tally in the fifth as Aliviado rapped a one-out double down the right field line. After Richartz grounded out to move Aliviado to third, Flores knocked him in with another double just past the bag at first.
The Gauchos (18-4, 0-1) scored their only run in the seventh. Third baseman Robbie Nesovic started the inning by taking a four-pitch walk and then stole second. Two outs later, he was at third when Jackson Morrow laid down a perfect bunt along the first base line. Nesovic scored and the throw to get Morrow was wild, going down the line, but Morrow decided to stay at first, attempting to scramble back to the bag and as he did so, he collided with the first base umpire and was tagged out on a throw from right field.
UCSB threatened in the eighth when Joey Epperson got his second hit of the day and stole second, but he was stranded there when Tyler Kuresa hit a long fly ball to center field. Epperson's two hits improved his team-leading batting average to .476.
In addition to Epperson's two-hit performance, shortstop Peter Maris also had a pair of hits and Kuresa had a double.
Greg Mahle replaced Jacome on the mound in the seventh and hurled 2.2 shutout innings.
UCSB and Hawai'i will play game two of the series on Saturday at 2:00 p.m. at Caesar Uyesaka Stadium. Plenty of great tickets are available at the front gate, 90 minutes before first pitch.