Gauchos surprise No. 13-ranked UCLA

LOS ANGELES – Try to pick a Gaucho of the game in Wednesday’s 5-4 win at
No. 13 UCLA and you’d be hard-pressed.

Maybe it’s centerfielder Derek Eligio, who had two hits and two RBI.

Or perhaps it’s junior Ryan Palermo, who had an RBI single during UCSB’s
three-run fourth inning.

It could be freshman left-hander Cameron Cuneo, who pitched four
terrific innings in relief, allowing just one run on four hits with five

Maybe it’s converted infielder Brett Fick, who pitched a 1-2-3 ninth
inning for his first career save. Nevermind that it came against a
top-15 squad.

All of those players – and certainly more – combined to help UC Santa
Barbara defeat the 13th-ranked Bruins on Wednesday at Jackie Robinson
Stadium for the Gauchos’ first win at UCLA since 2006.

The midweek game was the first of two large tests for the Gauchos (21-21
overall) this week as UCSB will host No. 17 UC Irvine this weekend at
Caesar Uyesak Stadium.

And, with a team effort, Santa Barbara passed its first test.

“We got a gutsy performance from freshman Cameron Cuneo and a great
close from Brett Fick,” said UCSB head coach Bob Brontsema. “Both guys
stepped up big against a really good team. Derek Eligio had a big
two-out hit and Ryan Palermo also produced a big run.”

UCLA’s Scott Griggs allowed just one hit – an infield single – through
the first three innings. However, back-to-back walks to Mark Haddow and
Trevor Whyte in the fourth set up Palermo.

The third baseman then laced a single into center field to tie the game
at 1-1. A poor throw home put Whyte on third and Palermo on second when
Griggs uncorked a wild pitch to give UCSB a 2-1 lead. Joe Wallace’s
groundout made it 3-1.

The Bruins scored a run in the bottom of the fourth – the only time they
got to Cuneo.

A base hit after a sac bunt was all the Bruins could muster off the
freshman lefty, who earned his first collegiate victory. Cuneo did walk
three batters, but constantly worked his way out of trouble.

In the sixth, Palermo reached on one of UCLA’s five errors, and moved to
second on another error before Wallace walked. A sacrifice bunt from Joe
Winterburn put runners on second and third before Eligio’s base hit into
left field scored both runners for a 5-2 lead.

UCLA scratched across two runs in the eighth to cut the Gaucho lead to
5-4, but Fick shut the door in the ninth.

Making just his fifth appearance one the mound, the senior from Newbury
Park, Calif. got three successive groundouts to end the game.

The Gauchos host No. 17 UC Irvine for three games beginning on Friday at
3 p.m. in a series that will be broadcast live on AM 1290 and online