Gauchos hold off Highlanders to salvage one win in series

RIVERSIDE — After dropping the first two games of the weekend’s Big West series, the UC Santa Barbara baseball team stormed back to defeat UC Riverside on Sunday, 9-5.

However, it took them a few innings to turn things on.

Trevor Frank got the start for UC Riverside, and looked sharp early as he struck out Derek Eligio, Sean Williams and Mark Haddow in the top of the first.

The Gauchos began to catch up to him in the third , as Bryce Tafelski beat out a one-out single up the middle, and Eligio singled through the left side to put runners at first and second. Williams singled through the left side scoring Tafelski, and Haddow’s single to right made it 3-0.

It was more of the same in the top of the fourth as Ryan Palermo, Joe Wallace and Beck Wheeler singled to load the bases. Dan Pellegrino couldn’t hang on to Justin Shults’ throw home on Wheeler’s base hit, and Palermo scored on the play. A passed ball brought Wallace plateward, and the lead increased to 5-0.

The Highlanders finally got their bats going in the bottom of the fifth, putting together a two-out rally. Vince Gonzalez doubled down the right field line as his fly ball one-hopped the wall in the corner. Pellegrino then doubled down the left field line to score Gonzalez. Phil Holinsworth’s single to center scored Pellegrino as the Highlanders cut the Guahcos advantage to 5-2.

UCSB got all of that back and more in the top of the sixth as they plated four in the inning to take a 9-2 lead. Steven Moon’s single through the right scored Palermo and made it 6-2 and ended Frank’s day. Dylan Stuart came on in relief, and Eligio greeted him with a double down the left field line which scored a pair. After, Williams drew a walk, Haddow singled down the left field line to give UCSB a seven-run cushion.

The Highlanders weren’t done, though, as they finally chased Guachos starter Nick Capito in the bottom half of the sixth. Shults singled up the middle to start the inning and Tony Nix got hit by a pitch to move Shults up 90 feet.

One out later, Bryan Horst drew a walk to load the bases, and a walk to Gonzalez brought home UC Riverside’s third run of the day. It also ended Capito’s night as he gave way to Bryce Uhrig. Uhrig gave up a sac fly to Pellegrino to make it 9-4 Gauchos.

Capito went 5.1 innings, allowing seven hits and four earned runs. He walked three and struck out two. The win improved his record to 4-2.

The Highlanders loaded the bases in the bottom of the eighth, but were only able to plate one run on Eddie Young’s sac fly to center which ended the scoring for the night.

Nick Loredo entered with two on and one out in the eighth and got out of the bases loaded jam. He then put two on in the ninth but got David Andriese to ground into a 6-4-3 double play to end the game.

UCSB improves to 19-19 overall with the win and 5-7 in the Big West. Riverside falls to 22-15 and 6-6.