CBB: Gauchos suffer walk-off loss at Long Beach

LONG BEACH – The 14th-ranked UC Santa Barbara baseball team scored a pair of runs in the top of the ninth to erase a 2-0 deficit at Long Beach State’s Blair Field Thursday night, but the Dirtbags struck right with a run in bottom half of the frame to earn a 3-2 walk-off win.

The comeback win spoiled what had been a solid collective pitching effort by UCSB (23-9, 4-6) starter Justin Jacome and reliever Greg Mahle.

In his first start in three weeks after missing a pair of weekends with arm tenderness, Jacome allowed just two earned runs over six innings to earn his sixth quality start in seven appearances.

The only damage Long Beach (17-18, 4-3) could incur against the lefty came in the fourth on consecutive RBI groundouts after Richard Prigatano and Michael Hill singled and doubled, respectively, to start off the inning.

Mahle was excellent as well after entering the game in a high leverage situation, as he inherited two runners and no outs when taking the ball in the seventh. After a sac bunt moved both runners into scoring position, Mahle responded by fanning Colton Vaughn and getting Johnny Bekakis to pop out to second baseman Woody Woodward to end the threat with no runs coming across.

UCSB’s offense struggled mightily against LBSU starter Andrew Rohrbach, who pitched into the ninth inning and allowed just one run on six hits while striking out five and walking one. His sole run against came after he had already left the game, as UCSB first baseman Tyler Kuresa led off the ninth with a double that chased Rohrbach from the game in favor of Kyle Friedrichs, who eventually earned the win for the Dirtbags.

After that leadoff double and an Andrew Calica flyout, Woodward worked a walk to put the tying run on base. LBSU shortstop Garrett Hampson then misplayed a Cameron Newell grounder, allowing pinch runner Scott Quinlan to score while Woodward moved all the way to third. The Gauchos evened the score in the next at bat when designated hitter Billy Fredrick ripped a single through the right side to plate Woodward.

Prior to the ninth inning comeback, UCSB had failed to have a runner reach third, and had only put a runner as far as second on two occasions.

After surrendering the lead, the Dirtbags wasted no time snatching it right back, as Michael Hill led off the bottom half of the ninth with a base hit to center. Mahle struck out the next hitter for the first out, but Eric Hutting followed that up by doubling down the right field line for the walk-off win.

Kuresa (2-4) was the sole Gaucho batter with multiple hits. Woodward was hit by a pitch in the sixth inning to give him 15 on the season, three away from tying UCSB’s single-season program record.