CBB: Gauchos win regional opener, 6-4

UCSB held on to beat Texas A&M 6-4 in the opening game of the NCAA Baseball Regionals at Oregon State on Friday. It is the Gauchos’ first postseason win since 2001.

BOX SCORE

Austin Pettibone pitched 7.2 innings and earned the victory. He allowed one earned run, struck out six and didn’t walk a batter.

UCSB will play Oregon State, a 5-4 winner over Texas-San Antonio, on Saturday at 5 p.m.

The Gauchos built a 5-1 lead in the fourth inning and led 6-2 going into the bottom of the ninth. The Aggies scored twice and had the tying run on second base when Dylan Hecht got the final out on a strikeout. Hecht came in for Greg Mahle.

“It was a great start by Austin Pettibone,” said second-year head coach Andrew Checketts. “I think he was a little disappointed about being pulled out of the game and he made a couple of comments under his breath, good natured comments because we have that kind of relationships. He was almost right that we should have left him in there to close it, but Dylan has been our closer all year.”

The Gauchos jumped on Texas A&M starter Daniel Mengden for a run in the second inning. Tyler Kuresa walked, moved to second on a Cameron Newell single and scored on a single by Luke Swenson.

UCSB picked up two runs in the third. Joey Epperson singled, advanced to second on a sacrifice by Brandon Trinkwon and came home on a single by Woody Woodward. The Aggies made an error on Kuresa’s ball to center field, allowing Woodward to score the third run.

Texas A&M got on the board in bottom of the third when Mikey Reynolds doubled home Krey Bratsen, who reached base on an error.

The Gauchos made it 5-1 with two runs in the fourth. Swenson drew a walk, was balked to second base and moved to third on a single by Jackson Morrow. After a wild pitch Mengden, Epperson followed with a RBI single. Morrow scored on a fly ball by Trinkwon.

Cole Lankford drove in Blake Allenad in the sixth inning for the Aggies’ second run.

Marc Venning tripled home Swenson to give UCSB a 6-2 lead in the eighth.

In the ninth, Mahle gave up back-to-back singles to Troy Stein and Logan Taylor before being replaced by Hecht. The runners advanced on a passed ball. Hecht then struck out Brandon Wood for the first out of the inning. Bratsen followed with a single to score Stein and Jace Statum singled in Taylor, making it a 6-4 game.

Gaucho third baseman Ryan Clark then made huge defensive play, racing into foul territory to make a tough catch on a ball hit by Reynolds. Clark entered the game in the ninth inning for defensive purposes.

Hecht got Allemand looking on a breaking ball to end the game and earn a save.

“Dylan came in to close it out for us,” Checketts said. “He kind of gave us all a heart attack, but he’s been our closer all year and if you want to go to Omaha, you have to be able to win all kinds of different ways. You have to blow somebody out, you have to win a close one and you have to hang-on to one.”

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