SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - Justin Jacome hurled 6.1 solid innings, Greg Mahle closed it out and Peter Maris had three of UC Santa Barbara's six hits as the Gauchos defeated UC Riverside in the first game of a three-game Big West series on Friday, 6-2.
Jacome (5-1) got his first win since March 21 as he allowed just three hits and a pair of earned runs in his 6.1 innings. He did walk four batters and was replaced by Mahle who tossed the final 2.2 innings to earn his first save of the season. Mahle allowed just a pair of harmless singles and struck out two.
On a day when the Gauchos (25-10 overall, 6-7 Big West) found the going tough Jacob Smigelski, the Highlanders (17-19, 6-4) No. 1 starter, Maris found a way to break through.
In the first inning, after Woody Woodward was hit by a 3-2 pitch to lead off, Maris stroked a triple into the game in right center field to give UCSB a 1-0 lead. He scored one out later when Tyler Kuresa lofted a sacrifice fly to center field to make it 2-0.
The score stayed 2-0 until the bottom of the sixth when Jackson Morrow walked to open the inning, moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by Woodward and then scored on a line drive single to left by Maris.
UCR ate into the lead just one inninig later.
Thomas Walker began the bottom of the seventh with a perfect bunt single and was followed by a walk to Matthew Ellis. Both runners moved up 90 feet on a sacrifice by Shuyo Chang.
At that point, Mahle was summoned from the bullpen and he was greeted by a sacrifice fly off the bat of Cody Hough, scoring Walker and moving Ellis to third. Joe Chavez then high a ground ball into the hole at short that Maris made a nice backhand play on, but he was unable to make the throw in time and Ellis scored to cut the lead to 3-2.
That, however, was all the Highlanders would get, and the Gauchos responded to the two-run rally with a three-run rally of their own in the bottom of the seventh.
Kuresa walked to start things and one out later, he moved to third on a single to center by Andrew Calica. Calica stole second to put runners on second and third. A fly ball to by Billy Fredrick brought Kuresa home and Calica trotted hom with UCSB's fifth run when Cameron Newell stroked a single to right.
Newell single chased Smigelski. Reliever Dylan Stuart was greeted by Morrow who promptly bunted toward third base. Stuart descended the mound to make a play but his throw, which was too late anyway, went over first baseman Francisco Tellez's head and down the line. Never breaking stride, Newell streaked home with the game's final run.
The win was UCSB's second in a row in league play. The teams will play the second game of the series on Saturday afternoon at Caesar Uyeska Stadium and first pitch is scheduled for 2:00 p.m.