UCSB Rally Comes Up Short, Kentucky Holds on For 3-2 Win

Colton Burns (photo by Tony Mastres)
Colton Burns (photo by Tony Mastres)

LEXINGTON, Kty. – No. 23 UC Santa Barbara got the tying run within 90 feet of home in the ninth after fallling behind 3-0 to Kentucky on Saturday afternoon, but couldn't find a clutch hit to complete the comeback, falling 3-2 in the middle game of the series with the Wildcats.

After being held off the board for the first eight innings by starter Zach Logue and reliever Zach Pop, the Gauchos (4-6) finally came to life in the top of the ninth, with junior DH Austin Bush lacing a double into the right-center field gap to start the inning off. 

Senior Billy Fredrick followed with a pinch-hit single to center – improving his program-record batting average in pinch-hit situations to .474 – to put UCSB in business and bring the tying run to the plate. 

At the point, the two head coaches began to play chess, as Andrew Checketts' move to bring in left-hitting Sam Cohen off the bench resulted in Kentucky (6-5) head coach Nick Mingione countering by bringing in senior lefty Logan Salow. 

Salow did his job at first, getting a flyout from Cohen – Bush tagged from third on the play to eliminate the shutout – and then striking out pinch-hitter Michael McAdoo to bring UCSB down to its last out.

Freshman left fielder Armani Smith kept the Gauchos alive by slapping a double down the left field line to plate Fredrick, making it a one run game. Things got even more interesting when Smith was able to move to third after Salow crossed up his catcher resulting in a wild pitch. 

Unfortunately for UCSB, Salow settled down and struck out catcher Thomas Rowan to strand Smith at third and earn the save. 

A lack of clutch hitting haunted the Gauchos earlier in the game, as they couldn't bring in a run despite getting a runner into scoring position in five of their first eight turns at bat, including the first three innings of the game. Before the ninth inning rally, UCSB was 0-6 with runners in scoring position. 

Logue, who shut down UCSB for seven innings while allowing just four hits, earned the victory to improve to 2-1.

His counterpart, UCSB's Kyle Nelson, was a tough-luck loser once again, taking the L after surrendering three runs over 5 1/3 innings. 

He was very effective his first two times through the UK lineup – allowing just one run, on a third-inning two-out doubles from Zach Reks – but the Wildcats began to zero in on him on their third look, tagging him for three hits, including a two-run homer, in the sixth. 

After Nelson's departure in the sixth, the UCSB bullpen kept up it's hot streak, tossing 2 2/3 scoreless innings of relief.

In his first non-start appearance of the season, junior righty Joe Record was very sharp, getting ahead of almost every batter and surrending just one hit over 1 2/3 innings. Freshman lefty AJ Woodall, who leads the team with six appearances, extended his career-opening scoreless streak to four innings with a 1-2-3 eighth.

The Gauchos will look to salvage the series tomorrow at 9:00 a.m. PST, with junior righty Steven Ledesma (0-0, 1.04 ERA) scheduled to make his first Division I start.