STOCKTON – A scary moment turned into the right moment for the UC Santa Barbara baseball team on Friday night vs. Pacific.
Batting with two out in the ninth, Lance Roenicke took a two-strike pitch off the chin. Although he walked to the dugout under his own power, Roenicke was replaced at first by Joe Lent. Brandon Trinkwon then lined a triple down the right field line to score Lent from first and help the Gauchos to a 6-5 win. UCSB improved to 19-17 on the year and 5-5 in the Big West. Pacific falls to 11-25, 1-6.
Roenicke had a butterfly bandage on his chin after the game and was in good spirits, because he was not seriously hurt and especially because of the victory.
But his teammates could be equally thrilled with the way left-hander Kevin Gelinas pitched out of the bullpen.
Sidelined for much of the season, Gelinas pitched for the fourth time in fourth time in five games and was brilliant. He struck out six in 2.2 scoreless innings and kept the Pacific off balance throughout his outing.
Yet, as good as Gelinas looked in relief and as good as the win felt to UCSB, there was a tint of ugliness early in the game.The two teams combined for five errors and a couple of baserunning blunders, yet the miscues on the basepaths somehow ended up into runs.
Gaucho starter Andrew Vasquez had Brett Christopher picked off of first with two outs in the second. But when Daniel Johnston broke for home, first baseman Joey Wallace threw home. Catcher Joe Winterburn threw to third baseman Marc Venning, who swiped to tag Johnston, but the ball popped out of his mitt. Johnston scurried home to give UOP a 2-1 lead.
An inning later, Trinkwon and Marc Venning singled to open the frame and then tried to execute a double steal. The throw from catcher Jason Taasaas to third beat Trinkwon by a good five feet and Trinkwon threw on the brakes. Third baseman Dustin Torchio ran him back to second, but Trinkwon slid in under the throw and second baseman Curtis Gomez’s throw to first skipped into the dugout, allowing Trinkwon to score. Venning ended up on third and scored on Mahle’s sacrifice fly.
Andrew Vasquez struck out seven in his 6.0 innings pitched, but also walked four and hit three others. However, he allowed just four hits and two earned runs and left the game in line for the victory.
Matt Vedo relieved Vasquez and three of the four batters he faced reached base before he gave way to Gelinas. The senior lefty, though, struck out the first batter he faced with an out in the seventh before UOP had its only moment of glory against him.
Brett Christopher singled in a run to even up the game, 5-5, before Gelinas settled in and then started dominating.
He struck out two in the eighth and punched out two more in the ninth, including making Tyger Pedersen look silly with a knee-buckling curveball for the second out in the ninth. Gelinas then struck out Christopher to end the game.
Brett Vertigan missed a go-ahead home run by inches in the ninth when his deep fly ball was caught at the wall, yet the junior managed a pair of hits, two stolen bases and he reached base four times. Trinkwon had two hits and two RBI while Joey Wallace had a pair of hits and a stolen base.
UCSB continues its series at Pacific with a 6 p.m. game on Saturday and a 1 p.m. game on Sunday.