Jacome Leads Gauchos to Shutout of UC Riverside

Justin Jacome (Photo by Tony Mastres)
Justin Jacome (Photo by Tony Mastres)

RIVERSIDE, Calif. – After UCSB and UC Riverside scored a combined 17 runs in Friday's series opener, Saturday's game had a decidedly different tone, as the Gauchos rode a 7 2/3 inning, two-hit gem from starter Justin Jacome to a 2-0 victory over the Highlanders.

The Gauchos – winners of five of their last six – improved their record to 23-18, 8-6 with the win. The Highlanders, who are now in the midst of a seven game losing streak, fell to 17-21, 6-8. It was the third shutout of the season for the Gauchos and second this month after defeating No. 4 Cal State Fullerton 2-0 on Apr. 14.

Jacome, a freshman lefty, turned in the finest performance of his young career on Saturday night, surrendering just two hits and no runs over 7 2/3 innings. It was the first outing for Jacome where he didn't allow a run. He also matched a career high by fanning six batters.

Jacome cruised through the majority of the game, only having to pitch out of trouble in a pair of situations. He issued back-to-back walks in the fourth inning – his only free passes of the game – but got a lazy fly out to end the inning. Clayton Prestridge doubled to start the bottom of the sixth, but the next three Highlanders were retired in order to snuff out the potential rally.

With the win, Jacome improved to 4-3 on the season. It was his seventh quality start of the season.

With two outs and nobody on in the eighth, Jacome made way for closer Dylan Hecht. The freshman righty started off his outing with a four pitch walk, but then retired the next four batters he faced – three of those via the strikeout – to pick up second consecutive and sixth overall save.

The Gauchos got all the offense they needed in the sixth inning as Robby Nesovic and Tyler Kuresa opened up the inning with singles, advancing to second and third after a Cameron Newell sac bunt. Jackson Morrow then bounced a grounder to third baseman Joe Chavez, who tried to retire Nesovic at home. However, catcher Bart Steponovich couldn't handle Chavez's throw, allowing the UCSB designated hitter to score and make it 1-0.

The Gauchos added another run in the ninth, with Joey Epperson scoring on a Woody Woodward single after reaching on a one-out base hit and stealing second.

UC Riverside starter Ben Doucette was the hard luck loser on Saturday, falling to 2-4 despite allowing just a single unearned run in seven innings of work.

Woodward, Nesovic, Kuresa, and Brandon Trinkwon each collected a pair of hits for the Gauchos. Newell's eighth inning double represented the only UCSB extra base hit.

The Gauchos and Highlanders will finish up their three-game set on Sunday afternoon, with the first pitch coming at 1:00 p.m.