No. 19 Gauchos Drop Rubber Match, Series to LMU

AJ Woodall (photo by Nick Rogers)
AJ Woodall (photo by Nick Rogers)

LOS ANGELES – Loyola Marymount scored a pair of runs in the first and then continued to apply offensive pressure all day, earning an 8-2 win over No. 19 UC Santa Barbara in Sunday afternoon's rubber match at Page Stadium. 

Second baseman Phil Caulfield was the biggest difference-maker for the Lions (2-1), going 4-5 with three stolen bases and three runs scored. 

The Gauchos (1-2) struggled to generate any offensive momentum for the second straight game, totaling just four hits. Junior left fielder Colton Burns had the top bat for UCSB, going 2-4 and reaching base three times. Junior shortstop Clay Fisher worked a pair of walks and scored two runs to cap off a solid weekend at the plate.

"I think we got out-baseballed today," said UCSB head coach Andrew Checketts. "LMU did a better job with two strikes, were getting better swings off on fastballs, and played better defense. We're going to go back to work and tune some things up and hopefully we'll be improved next week."

The Lions threw the first punch on Sunday against UCSB starter Joe Record, with Caulfield leading off the first with a solid single to left before Billy Wilson walked to put a pair on with nobody away. Both moved up on stolen bases, and the home team was able to cash in both of those runners with an RBI groundout and a run-scoring single up the middle from DH Trevin Esquerra. 

LMU was able to push across runs in the two of three innings after that, making it 4-0 and chasing Record from the game. 

The Gauchos began to push back in the fifth, but a bad break limited their potential rally to just one run. 

With Fisher having led off the frame with a walk, Burns lined a rocket down the third base line that was bound for the left field corner and could have easily plated one. However, the ball clanged off the third base bag and neither runner was able to advance further, robbing Burns of extra bases and a potential RBI. 

Third baseman JJ Muno capped the Gauchos' scoring in the seventh with a sacrifice fly to deep right-center. 

One bright spot for the Gauchos on Sunday was the performance of the bullpen. 

Righty Kevin Chandler (2/3 of an inning) and lefty AJ Woodall (1/3) both had scoreless outings, and freshman right-hander Chris Lincoln was effective in his NCAA debut, striking out a pair and allowing just a single hit over 1 1/3 innings. 

Fellow freshman Ben Brecht, a 6-7 lefty, also made his NCAA debut in the loss and although he allowed three earned runs – including a two-run home run to Wilson – over two innings, Checketts was impressed with his work on the hill.

"I thought Ben was really good until he gave up that home run," said Checketts. "That one pitch turns that inning from a positive to a negative but I thought he did a really nice job with his fastball up to that point and he was aggressive for his first college outing."

The Gauchos return to action on Tuesday night, traveling to Cal State Bakersfield for a 6:00 p.m. contest. UCSB will host Tulane this weekend for a three-game series, starting with the team's home opener on Friday, Feb. 24 at 2:00 p.m.