LONG BEACH – The UC Santa Barbara baseball team had the tying run 90 feet away on Sunday afternoon and it appeared, with two outs in the ninth, that the Gauchos would get that run home.
Lance Roenicke’s hard ground ball into the hole was stopped on a diving play by third baseman Juan Avila, who threw to second to erase Jeff Miller and end the game, leaving the Gauchos with a 4-3 defeat and giving Long Beach State a three-game sweep of the Big West Conference series.
In a series in which all three games were taught affairs, the Gauchos were only a play or two away from having things turn their way. Not just on Sunday, either.
The two teams played deep into Saturday night in a 14-inning defeat for UCSB and the Gauchos had loaded the bases in the first game of Saturday’s doubleheader against closer Kyle Friedrichs.
Friedrichs, again, danced out of danger after he allowed a pair of infield singles and Steven Fisher’s base hit to bring the Gauchos within a run as Joey Wallace stood at third with one out in the ninth on Sunday. However, Brett Vertigan popped out and Roenicke’s potential basehit was snuffed out on a nice play by Avila.
For UCSB, it marked the first time since the 1998 season that the team was swept by the Dirtbags in Long Beach and it was LBSU’s first three-game sweep since the 2009 season. UCSB falls to 17-17 on the year and 4-5 in the Big West. LBSU improves to 16-17, 7-2.
Zak Edgington continued to pitch well for UCSB in his new role as the Sunday starter. Edgington allowed three earned runs in 5.1 innings pitched and struck out a career-high five batters.
But, he couldn’t match the terrific pitching from LBSU starter Shawn Stuart, who allowed just one run on four hits with seven strikeouts through seven innings.
The Gauchos, though, struck for a pair of runs against Long Beach’s bullpen.
Lance Roenicke led the Gauchos with a pair of hits and two runs scored while Ryan Palermo had an RBI double.
UCSB also saw Kevin Gelinas pitch 1.1 solid innings out of the ‘pen in his second appearance of the weekend.
The Gauchos will play at USC on Wednesday and don’t return home until the April 27 weekend when they host UC Davis.