CBB: Gauchos fall short in elimination game, 5-4

UCSB went down battling in its first NCAA Baseball Tournament appearance in 12 years.

Trailing 5-1 in an elimination game against Texas A&M at the Corvallis Regional, the Gauchos fought back but fell short and lost 5-4 on Sunday.

UCSB finishes the season with a 35-25 record in coach Andrew Checketts’ second year.Both losses in its first postseason appearance since 2001 were by one run against BCS schools, Oregon State (3-2) and Texas A&M.

“This is tough,” said Gaucho head coach Andrew Checketts. “This team is very close and has worked very hard this year. I’m proud of them and I think there is a bright future, but right now, it’s tough.”

Texas A&M jumped on Gaucho starter Robby Nesovic in the first inning when Mikey Reynolds led off with a double down the right-field line, moved to third on a Blake Allemand infield single and a UCSB throwing error.

Nesovic got Cole Lankford to ground into a into a double play, leaving Reynolds at third. But Reynolds eventually scored on an infield single by Hunter Melton.

The Aggies raised their lead to 4-0 in the third when Lankford doubled home two runs and scored whenTroy Stein got caught in a rundown between first and second after singling to right field.

The Gaucho offense, held in check by Aggie starter Rafael Pineda, broke through for a run in the sixth. Marc Venning doubled down the left-field line to open the inning and scored on a throwing error by Pineda on Jackson Morrow’s bunt. Morrow tried to steal third but was thrown out.

Texas A&M got the run back and went ahead 5-1 in the seventh. Krey Bratsen doubled to center, stole third and scored on a sacrifice fly by Jace Statum.

The Gauchos replaced Nesovic with Domenic Mazza.

Gauchos cut the lead to 5-4 in the bottom of the seventh. Woody Woodward doubled and scored on a single to right by Tyler Kursea. After Newell grounded into a double play, Nesovic was hit by a pitch and Luke Swenson walked.

Texas A&M brought in Kyle Martin to pitch and Venning greeted him with a single to shortstop to load the bases. Pinch-hitter Joe Winterburn followed with a single to drive in Nesovic and Swenson, making it one-run game.

Jason Jester, the Aggies’ save leader with 13, replaced Martin and got Joey Epperson to pop out to second base for the final out of the inning. Jester allowed only one hit in his 2.1 innings of work to pick up the save and end UCSB’s season.