UCR Uses Huge Rally to Top Gauchos in 11, 14-10

Michael McAdoo (photo by Eric Isaacs)
Michael McAdoo (photo by Eric Isaacs)

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - Anthony Lepre and Matt Hardy hit back-to-back home runs in the top half of the 11th inning and visiting UC Riverside, which trailed 10-4 at one point, battled back to beat UC Santa Barbara on Sunday afternoon, 14-10.

For UCSB (20-18-1 overall, 6-6 Big West) had its three-game winning streak ended, while the Highlanders (16-22, 5-7) ended a three-game losing streak.

The Gauchos jumped on UCR starter Trenton Toplikar for three runs in the top of the first. Andrew Martinez and Clay Fisher opened things with back-to-back singles. Tommy Jew, who had eight hits in the first two games of the series, forced Fisher at second with Martinez moving over to third. A single by Thomas Rowan plated Martinez, with Jew moving to third. Rowan hustled to second on the throw. Jew made it 2-0 when Drew Williams grounded out to second and then it was 3-0 when second baseman Cody Sporrer couldn't handle a hard grounder by Michael McAdoo.

The Highlanders didn't waste time tying the game as they chased UCSB starter Jack Dashwood in the second inning with two hits, a walk and a Dashwood throwing error on an attempted sacrifice. The key blow in the inning was a two-run double just inside the bag at third by Tony Gudino that scored Nathan Webb and Connor Cannon. Luke Andrews replaced Dashwood and needed one pitch to induce a pop-up from Anthony Lepre, ending the threat.

Gudino did more damage in Riverside's half of the fourth as he sent an Andrews offering over the scoreboard in left field for his second home run of the season.

With a big helping hand from the Highlanders, the Gauchos reclaimed the lead with a three-run fourth. McAdoo singled and moved to second on a ground ball out. Armani Smith battled through a lengthy at bat before singling up the middle on the ninth pitch, scoring McAdoo. Martinez then worked a full count walk to put two runners on for Fisher, who launched a wind-aided fly ball to the track in right field. Dean Miller had a play but dropped the ball on the track and both runners came home to make it 6-4.

Santa Barbara added to its lead in the fifth when Williams drew a one-out walk and then scored on McAdoo's third triple of the season. A walk to Marcos Castanon put runners on first and third with Smith coming to the plate. On the first pitch to Smith, Castanon took off from first and when when the catcher, Lepre, made the throw down, McAdoo broke for the plate and stole home as Castanon was tagged out after a rundown and it was 8-4 Gauchos.

UCSB extended its lead to 10-4 with a pair of runs on three hits in the sixth. The key blow was a run scoring double by Rowan to score the final run.

Riverside battled back with two runs in the seventh and four in the eighth to tie the score. The game-tying blow was a one-out three-run double by Cannon off of Kevin Chandler. Chandler was then pulled for freshman Chris Troye, who walked the first batter he faced on four pitches to put runners on first and second. A wild pitch sent the runners to second and third before Troye whiffed Ian Nowak and Sporrer swinging to end the inning.

The Gauchos threatened in the 10th inning when Castanon walked to lead off the inning. He went to second on a wild pitch, but Smith struck out swinging and McClain O'Connor lined into a double play to end the inning.

Nowak started the fateful 11th inning with a hard hit smash past O'Connor at third. Troye went 2-0 to Sporrer and was then replaced by Ben Brecht, who hit Sporrer with his first pitch putting runners on first and second with nobody out. Colby Schultz bounced a ball back to Brecht who looked at third but chose to get Sporrer on a force at second with Nowak advancing to third. Brecht went 3-1 to the Highlanders' best hitter, Lepre, who belted a ball over the right field fence for his fourth home run of the season to give his team a 13-10 lead. One pitch later, Matt Hardy matched his teammate with a blast just inside the foul pole in right for his fourth round tripper of the season making it 14-10.

UCSB didn't go quietly in its half of the 11th. Martinez and Fisher were hit on consecutive pitches by Johnny Breidenthal, but Jew struck out swinging, Rowan hit into a fielder's choice and Williams grounded out to first base to end the game.

Troye (0-1) was tagged with the loss despite being the team's most effective pitcher on the afternoon. The freshman gave up just the one run one two hits while striking out five in 2.2 innings. He was one of seven pitchers used by the Gauchos in a game that lasted 4 hours and 24 minutes.

Fisher, Rowan, McAdoo and Smith each had a pair of hits for Santa Barbara. Cannon and Hardy each had three hits to lead UCR's 17-hit attack. Breidenthal (1-0), the visitor's fourth pitcher, picked up his first win of the season.

UCSB will play a midweek game at Cal State Bakersfield on Tuesday at 6:00 p.m., before returning home for another Big West Conference series against Cal State Northridge next weekend.