CBB: Tate is sharp in return; Gauchos blank Hawai’i

HONOLULU — Right-hander Dillon Tate turned in seven innings of hitless ball in his start against Hawai’i on Friday night, steering the seventh-ranked Gauchos to a 5-0 shutout win in their series opener at Les Murakami Stadium.

Returning to his role as Friday starter after missing the Cal Poly series due to injury, Tate proved he was back in top form for the Gauchos (30-9, 7-3 Big West), striking out six Rainbow Warriors (14-25, 5-8) while facing just three batters over the minimum.

The flamethrower did allow a pair of walks on the night, but both were wiped out by double plays in the very next at-bat.

Despite allowing no hits, Tate actually did face trouble in the fourth, when an error, hit batsman, and wild pitch put two Hawai’i runners in scoring position with just one out. However, Tate got out of the jam with little issue, fanning UH cleanup hitter Alex Sawelson before inducing a lazy fly ball from Eric Ramirez to end the inning.

The potential combined no-hit bid came to an end in the eighth inning, when No. 9 hitter JJ Kitaoka stroked a two-out single off UCSB lefty Kyle Nelson, who provided two innings of shutout relief.

With the win, Tate improved to 6-3 on the year while lowering his ERA, which ranked second in the Big West Conference entering the weekend, to an anemic 1.57.

On the offensive side of the ball, senior third baseman Peter Maris and senior left fielder Cameron Newell had three hits apiece to spark a five-run output from the Gauchos.

Maris extended his team-best hitting streak to 14 games with the three-hit night, and he also provided UCSB’s only extra-base hit of the day with a fifth inning leadoff double.

Senior second baseman Woody Woodward reached base twice in the win and came around to score both times.

Woodward scored the first and ultimately game-winning run in the second inning, coming around on a Clay Fisher RBI single after having walked with one out to start the rally.

The Gauchos kept jabbing at the Rainbow Warriors, scoring additional runs on a fourth inning Campbell Wear RBI base hit and a wild pitch from starter LJ Brewster — who fell to 5-4 on the year after allowing four runs on eight in 6 2/3 innings — that plated Maris after his two-bagger.

UCSB closed the scoring in the seventh inning, when a bases-loaded infield single off the bat of Newell was aided by an error from the UH first baseman, ultimately bringing in a pair of runs.

The Gauchos go for their first ever series win against Hawai’i on Saturday night, with junior LHP Justin Jacome (6-1, 2.61 ERA) taking the ball against righty Tyler Brashears (5-4, 2.20). First pitch is scheduled for 9:05 PDT.