Moon, Palermo set up Maris’ winning run for Gauchos

UCSB’s baseball team kept pace in the Big West on Sunday afternoon with a gritty come-from-behind 3-2 victory against UC Davis at Caesar Uyesaka Stadium.

Knowing that only a series victory would keep them in the postseason hunt, the Gauchos showed some resiliency after Saturday’s 10-6 loss by coming back to tie twice before scoring the winning run in the bottom of the 8th.

Solo home runs in consecutive innings by shortstop Steven Moon and third baseman Ryan Palermo – who entered as part of a double switch in the top of the 7th – tied the game both times. In the eighth, Peter Maris led off with a double, advanced to third on catcher Joe Winterburn’s bunt single, and scored on a wild pitch to seal the series victory.

“The defense was great today, we turned key double plays all day and guys were just all over the place diving around,” Steve Moon said, “Our team has been really resilient all year and we showed great tenacity to come back and win the game.”

Although the Aggies’ offense outhit the Gauchos’ 8-5, they were only able to muster two runs off the starting pitcher Zak Edgington who went 6.1 innings while only giving up one earned.

The Gaucho lineup had an extremely difficult time figuring out the Aggies’ Tom Briner through five innings. UCSB recorded just one hit through five before scoring single runs in the sixth, seventh and eighth innings.

“It was a good pitching performance. We didn’t gave up any walks, but give them credit, they executed their game plan and hung in there,” said UC Davis coach Matt Vaughn.

And hang in there is exactly what UCSB did as the game almost got out of hand in the top of the 7th. UCSB Coach Andrew Checketts made a total of three pitching changes in a wild 7th. Relievers Jared Wilson and Kevin Gelinas struggled to find the strike zone and a passed ball by Winterburn allowed the Aggies to take a 2-1 lead. Checketts finally turned to Greg Mahle who not only got the Gauchos out of the jam, but also closed out the rest of the game with 2.2 innings of shutout ball.

“None of the pitching changes worked today except the last one,” noted Checketts.

He also admitted the team “didn’t have a ton of energy” to begin the game as “yesterday took the air out of [their] balloons a little bit.” But he stressed that the dugout was able to “maintain energy and stay positive and find a way to stay in the game with our backs up against the wall.”

Ryan Palermo echoed his teammates’ sentiments.

“It was a typical Gaucho grinder game on Sunday but a great win. We’re a resilient team and we’ve shown that all year.”

The win improves the Gauchos record to 23-19 overall and 9-6 in the Big West.

UCSB’s next series will begin at 6:30pm on Friday at UC Irvine.