LOS ANGELES, Calif. – The UC Santa Barbara baseball team squandered an early 5-0 lead, and ultimately fell 9-7 to Loyola Marymount on Sunday afternoon at Page Stadium to split the season-opening two-game series with the Lions.
After a pair of scoreless innings to start the game, the Gauchos (1-1) broke through for five runs on four hits in the third. Jason Willow doubled to left to lead off the frame, and with the bases loaded and one out, Thomas Rowan smacked a double of his own to left center to plate two. Andrew Martinez kept the rally going with a two-RBI single down the left field line and Armani Smith brought home Martinez with a two-out triple to right.
LMU (1-1) began its comeback the very next inning with three runs on four hits, including a pair of doubles, to cut the UCSB lead to two, 5-3.
Control issues on the mound plagued the Gauchos in the fifth after three walks and a hit by pitch allowed the Lions to bring home two runs and tie the game, 5-5.
LMU pieced together a pair of hits and a sac fly to take its first lead, 6-5, in the sixth.
UCSB answered right back with two runs in the top of the seventh to regain the lead. Tommy Jew and Christian Kirtley both reached on back-to-back errors to start the inning before a bunt single from Eric Yang loaded the bases. A Rowan fielder's choice brought Jew home and Martinez followed with another RBI single to put the Gauchos ahead, 7-6.
Despite two quick outs in the eighth, LMU managed to rally for three runs in the inning after a walk and single were cashed in by a two-RBI double from Cooper Uhl. The Lions tacked on one more for good measure with an RBI single later in the inning.
Yang led off the ninth with a single for UCSB, but back-to-back strikeouts halted any momentum for the Gauchos.
Freshman Rodney Boone made his first career start for Santa Barbara, tossing four innings allowing five hits and four earned while striking out four and walking one. Liam Steigerwald (0.1 IP), Kevin Chandler (0.2 IP), Shea Barry (2.2 IP), Michael McGreevy and Christopher Troye (0.1 IP) also appeared in relief. Barry (0-1) was handed the loss after being responsible for the go-ahead runners in the eighth, but struck out four in his 2.2 innings of work.
The LMU pitching staff totaled 11 strikeouts on the afternoon and walked just one, compared to five walks from UCSB.
Offensively, Yang, Rowan and Martinez all went 2-for-4 with a run scored while Martinez and Rowan added three RBIs apiece. UCSB was outhit 12-9 in the game.
The Gauchos will have a quick turnaround with a pair of games at UNLV on Tuesday, Feb. 19 at 6:05 p.m. and Wednesday, Feb. 20 at 2:00 p.m.