UCSB Bullpen Secures Another Nailbiter in 4-3 Series Opening Win Over CSUN

Greg Mahle
Photo by Tony Mastres
Greg Mahle Photo by Tony Mastres

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. – A four-run UC Santa Barbara third inning turned out be just enough offense as typically effective relief outings from junior lefty Greg Mahle and sophomore closer Dillon Tate helped nail down a 4-3 Gauchos win over Cal State Northridge in Friday's Big West series opener at Caesar Uyesaka Stadium.

Mahle and Tate, who were each appearing for the third time in the past four games, combined to throw 3.1 shutdown innings and preserve the victory for UCSB (28-14-1, 8-11) starter Justin Jacome, who moved to 6-2 on the year.

Brycen Rutherford of CSUN (17-31, 5-11) took the loss after allowing four runs in seven innings, dropping his personal record to 4-5.

The Gauchos opened the day's scoring with a four run, two-out rally in the third inning. Junior right fielder Cameron Newell was the first to score, coming across on a Peter Maris single after having reached himself on a base hit to right-center.

Following Maris's RBI knock, a Greg Mahle bloop single and Tyler Kuresa walk loaded the bases for UCSB. Sophomore third baseman Robby Nesovic and freshman center fielder Andrew Calica followed with RBI singles to score all three runners and put the Gauchos up 4-0.

Jacome looked well on his way to a team-leading eighth quality start, but a pair of UCSB errors in the top of the sixth aided a CSUN rally that saw the Matadors score three runs, the final two coming on a two-run single from William Colantono.

Despite the solid outing overall by Jacome, UCSB head coach Andrew Checketts summoned the dependable Mahle to extinguish the rally, and so he did by retiring Ryan Raslowsky on a comeback grounder.

After an uneventful seventh, Mahle was lifted in favor of Tate with a runner on first and two outs in the eighth inning. Lanny Rowe, the first batter to face Tate, singled back up the middle but Calica ended the inning by making the defensive play of the game, gunning out Colantono trying to advance from first to third with a strike to the glove of Nesovic.

Tate then finished off the Matadors with a hitless ninth inning to pick up his 11th save of the season, moving him into sole possession of the second-most single-season saves in program history. Of his 11 saves, seven of them have now required four or more outs.

The Claremont, Calif. native, who sports a double-take worthy ERA of 0.53, has now gone 17.2 straight innings without allowing a run and has gone unscored upon in 22 of 23 outings overall this season.

Jacome ended the day with a line of three runs (all unearned) on seven hits with a pair of strikeouts and no walks in 5.2 innings pitched. Mahle allowed two hits and struck out one in his two innings of work.

Mahle, who started the game as the designated hitter, had a team-high two hits, giving him multiple hits in two straight appearances after being named to the starting lineup in back-to-back games for the first time this season.

Kuresa, UCSB's cleanup hitter, went 0-1, but reached twice via walk, scored a run, and laid down one of three Gaucho sac bunts on the day. 

This was the conference-leading 18th one-run game played by the Gauchos this season. The team is now 12-5-1 in those contests.

UCSB and CSUN resume their series tomorrow afternoon with a 2:00 p.m. start. Junior righty Austin Pettibone (2-1, 4.28 ERA) is scheduled to start for the Gauchos opposite Jerry Keel (0-8, 3.43 ERA).