No. 13 UCSB Edges Pepperdine for 30th Win of Season

James Carter (photo by Eric Isaacs)
James Carter (photo by Eric Isaacs)

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. – Sophomore shortstop Clay Fisher had three hits and an RBI out of the two-hole while James Carter and Kyle Hatton teamed up to limit Pepperdine to two runs over seven innings as No. 13 UC Santa Barbara bested the Waves 4-3 on Tuesday afternoon at Caesar Uyesaka Stadium to earn its 30th win of the season. 

Making his season debut after a long recovery from Tommy John surgery, Carter started the game for UCSB (30-10-1) and pitched a scoreless first inning before being removed due to a pitch count.

Carter was lights out in 2015 as the Gauchos' closer before going down for the year, recording five saves and a perfect ERA over eight appearances. He showed some of that potential when he punched out Manny Jefferson on four pitches to end the frame. 

"It was fun to see Carter back out there," said UCSB head coach Andrew Checketts. "It's a long road back from a surgery like that. He was competitive and fired up, we're excited for him."

Hatton, UCSB's normal midweek starter, entered the game in the second inning and proceeded to turn in another sterling performance, striking out a career-high 10 while allowing just two runs over six innings. 

The victory gave the Gauchos their fourth consecutive 30-win season, a feat accomplished by the program just once before (1982-87), and helped avenge a 6-2 loss in Malibu on Mar. 29 of this year. 

Two crucial plays went against Pepperdine (20-19) in Tuesday's contest. 

Tied 1-1 in the bottom of the fifth, Waves second baseman Chase Lambert bounced his throw to first on a routine groundball from UCSB's Andrew Calica, which allowed the go-ahead run to come in and put Calica on second, where he scored from moments later on a Clay Fisher base hit into center field. 

Then in the top of the eighth, Pepperdine catcher Aaron Barnett was picked off at first base with teammate Brad Anderson at the plate. On the ensuing pitch, Anderson smacked a home run off the left field netting that made it 4-3 in UCSB's favor instead of tying the game. 

Along with that Anderson big fly, UCSB junior righty Trevor Bettencourt allowed four hits over his two innings. But he came up big when it counted, inducing a game-ending fly ball from Barnett that left a pair of runners on base. 

With the win, UCSB extended a number of impressive streaks. The team is now 21-1 at home this year, including 17 straight victories, which are both all-time program records. UCSB is also now 11-1 in one-run games in 2016.

Hitting in the No. 2 spot in the lineup for just the second time in his career, Fisher rewareded Checketts' faith with singles in his first three at bats. His double play partner, freshman second baseman Tevin Mitchell, also had a great day with the bat, going 2-3 including a leadoff double in the fifth that led to the go-ahead run for UCSB. 

Freshman catcher Sam Cohen continued his hot-hitting ways, ripping a double off the right field fence in the sixth to plate Devon Gradford for what turned out be the game-winning run. 

Fresh off a sweep of Hawaii, UCSB will look to keep it rolling in Big West play this weekend as they travel to UC Davis for a three-game set starting on Friday at 2:30 p.m.