SANTA BARBARA, Calif. – UC Santa Barbara used a five-run first and a solid start from sophomore lefty Kyle Nelson to pull out an 8-5 win over Stony Brook in Saturday's non-conference affair at Caesar Uyesaka Stadium.
Paired with Friday's 12-4 triumph, the Gauchos (7-10) are now in position to sweep the Seawolves (4-12) in Sunday's series finale, which has been moved up to a 12:00 p.m. start in order to accomdate SBU's travel plans.
"We were a little more on it today," said UCSB head coach Andrew Checketts. "Nelly was good early and in the strike zone for the most part. We had defensive energy and momentum today that gave us a shot and I think offensively we had some good at-bats and were able to put some pressure on them."
Moments after Bush's free pass, sophomore catcher Sam Cohen made Turcotte pay for his shaky start by pulling a grounder through the right side for a run-scoring single. Another run came in when the next batter, freshman center fielder Tommy Jew, worked a bases-loaded walk off Turcotte.
DH Josh Adams then scored the biggest blow of the rally, blooping a double into shallow center field – just out of the reach of four converging Seawolves fielders – to bring in three runs and make it 5-0.
It was the second consecutive day that UCSB built a big lead in the first, as the home team tagged starter Bret Clarke for seven runs in the opening frame on Friday.
Making his first start of the season, Adams made the most of his opportunity, driving in Jew once again with a base hit to center in the third before finishing his 3-3 day with an opposite field single in the fifth.
The Gauchos continued to jab offensively following the early outburst, adding single runs on a second inning Bush RBI single – moments after the Gaucho slugger ripped a would-be home run just wide of the right field foul pole – and a sixth inning Armani Smith sac fly.
Making his debut in the three-hole, Smith continued his hot-hitting ways with two knocks on Saturday. The freshman out of De La Salle High School now has multiple hits in four straight and five of his last six games.
The eight runs produced by the UCSB offense proved to be more than enough for Nelson, who thrived until his last inning.
Through his first six innings, the Gaucho southpaw allowed just a single unearned run on three hits.
However, he was burned in the seventh when SBU center fielder Toby Handley looped an RBI triple into the left-center gap. Handley scored moments later on a Casey Baker groundout, chasing Nelson from the contest.
Still, Nelson received the win to move to 2-2 on the year, ending the day with a line of two earned runs against on five hits over 6 2/3 innings with three walks and seven strikeouts, setting new career highs in innings and pitches (110, his first career 100-pitch game).
UCSB closer Alex Garcia recovered from a leadoff walk in the ninth to retire three straight batters, earning his fourth save of the year.
The right-handed reliever leaned on his slider to keep hitters off balance, as he struck out a pair of batters and induced a weak pop-up behind home plate in the frame.
UCSB's 1-2 two hitters, Burns and Fredrick, both joined Adams and Smith in the multiple-hit club with a pair each.
Freshman left-hander Ben Brecht is slated to take the ball for UCSB tomorrow in his first career start. The Illinois native has a 4.35 ERA and 11 strikeouts in 10 1/3 innings so far this season, and was selected by Baltimore in last summer's MLB draft after going 8-0 with a 0.31 ERA as a high school senior.
"Brecht is a strikethrower, so I think if can stay ahead of batters he has a chance to make pitches and be effective," said Checketts.
He will be opposed by SBU righty Brian Hermann (0-1, 1.80 ERA). UCSBGauchos.com will have a live audio broadcast of the finale.