CBB: Four-run eighth inning lifts Gauchos

BAKERSFIELD – UC Santa Barbara scored four runs in the top of the eighth at Cal State Bakersfield’s Hardt Field to break a 3-3 tie and claim a 7-3 win over the Roadrunners on Tuesday night.

Junior shortstop Peter Maris and junior designated hitter Greg Mahle each had three hits in the victory, while sophomore closer Dillon Tate – a member of the NCBWA Stopper of the Year Watch List – threw three scoreless innings to earn his second win of the season in three decisions.

The hot-hitting Maris now has hits in eight of the last nine games and six straight. Mahle, making his third start of the season and hitting in the cleanup spot for the first time all year, had a trio of hits for the first time since his Freshman All-American season of 2012.

The decisive eighth inning all got started for UCSB (27-14-1) when freshman center fielder Andrew Calica and junior second baseman Woody Woodward reached with two outs and nobody on via a walk and hit by pitch, respectively.

With righty Max Carter on the mound for the Roadrunners (20-27), UCSB head coach Andrew Checketts elected to pinch-hit Billy Fredrick in the pressure spot. The freshman, who has delivered a number of big hits for UCSB this season including a walk off double against Wichita State, rewarded his coach’s faith by lining a single into left field and scoring Calica for the go-ahead run.

In the same inning, UCSB would tack on additional runs on a Joey Epperson RBI groundout and a two-run double down the right field line off the bat of Maris, one of two extra base hits on the day for the Laguna Niguel, Calif. native.

Tate entered the game in the bottom of the seventh with a runner on and nobody out, then pitched out of the minor jam to keep the score level at 3-3. The hard-throwing righty went on to retire the final seven batters he faced in order.

The three-inning outing lowered Tate’s earned run average to an anemic 0.55. He has now gone without allowing an earned run in 21 of his 22 appearances this season.

UCSB starter Domenic Mazza survived a scary bottom of the first to deliver a solid start, earning a no decision after allowing three earned runs on 10 hits in 5.2 innings pitched.

That first inning featured hits from the first five Roadrunner batters, including RBI extra base hits from 3-4 hitters Chance Gusbeth and Soloman Williams. Mazza was able to escape extra damage by picking off Carter, who started the game as the designated hitter for Bakersfield, before stranding two runners by striking out Garrett Pierce and inducing a David Metzgar flyout.

Mazza was solid otherwise, only allowing a run again in the sixth. Oscar Sanay’s RBI single in that frame spelled the end of the day for the UCSB lefty.

The Gauchos opened the game’s scoring in the first when Mahle singled home Maris.

After falling behind when the Roadrunners scored two in the bottom half, UCSB went back up 3-2 in the top of the second when a Joey Epperson base hit scored Cameron Newell and moved Jackson Morrow to third, with Morrow scoring in the next at bat on a passed ball.

Bakersfield starter Steven Gee was left with a no decision, allowing two earned runs in six-plus innings of work. Alec Daily (1-3) was tagged with the loss after issuing the eighth-inning walk to Calica.

In the two teams’ previous matchup this season on Feb. 18, junior first baseman Tyler Kuresa launched a three-run home run to lead UCSB to a 5-1 Opening Day win.

As part of Walk Off Weekend, the Gauchos will host Cal State Northridge this weekend in their final home series of the year. Giveaways, ticket specials, merchandise offers, discounted food and beverage will highlight the weekend activities. First pitch on Friday against the Matadors is scheduled for 3:00 p.m.