CBB: Gauchos erupt in 4th to beat Irvine

Campbell Wear's bases-loaded double scored two runs in the fourth inning. (Presidio Sports Photo)

Campbell Wear’s bases-loaded double scored two runs in the fourth inning. (Presidio Sports Photo)


In the series opener between two teams vying for the Big West regular season crown, eighth-ranked UC Santa Barbara unloaded for a two-out, seven-run rally in the fourth inning to secure a comfortable 10-5 win over No. 22 UC Irvine on Friday afternoon at Caesar Uyesaka Stadium.

Four different Gauchos batters recorded multi-RBI performances on the day, and all 10 of the team’s runs came with two outs.


The UCSB victory improved the team’s record to 37-13-1, and the Gauchos are now level with UCI (31-19) in the Big West standings at 13-6, a half-game behind Cal State Fullerton, who plays at Hawai’i later tonight.

As important as the win was in the standings, it also held historical significance for UCSB, as their 37th win of the season tied a program record for single-season wins against Division I opponents (2001). Also of note, their 27th win at home against Division I opponents is a new program mark.

Making what was very possibly the final start of his career at Caesar Uyesaka Stadium, junior right-hander Dillon Tate struck out eight batters over seven innings while surrendering five runs on eight hits.

UC Irvine put in some good at-bats early against Tate, scoring single runs in the second and third innings to go up 2-0 on UCSB.

Conversely, Anteaters starter Elliot Surrey basically shut down the Gaucho bats at the outset, but that all changed with one swing of the bat from UCSB senior third baseman Peter Maris.

Batting in the two-hole, Maris pounced on an 0-1 inside fastball in the third inning, launching it over the right field fence for a game-tying two-run homer. His second roundtripper of the season, all five of Maris’s career home runs have been either game-tying or go-ahead blasts.

UCI responded with a run in the top of the fourth, but then the Gauchos jumped all over Surrey in the bottom half of the frame to put the game away.

After retiring Clay Fisher on a foulout for the second out of the inning things began to go south quickly for the Anteaters lefty, as it turned out Fisher would be the last batter of the game he would retire.

Surrey’s command went for a lunch break after he got Fisher, clipping UCSB center fielder Andrew Calica with an inside pitch to load the bases. Gaucho catcher Campbell Wear then put a charge into a 2-2 fastball, missing a grand slam by maybe a foot, but still bringing in a pair of runs to give UCSB the lead at 4-3.

The next four UCSB batters of the inning would go on to reach against Surrey, including a two-run double from Robby Nesovic and RBI singles from Cameron Newell and Paddy O’Brien.

The Anteaters were able to stem the Gauchos’ rally only when Surrey was removed from the game after O’Brien’s smash up the middle. Sean Sparling came into the game for UCI at that point, and actually went on to have a solid relief outing, allowing just two hits and an unearned run in 4 1/3 innings.

By the end of the fourth, UCSB found itself up 9-3, and that margin proved useful when the Anteaters clubbed solo home runs in the sixth and seventh innings, the first roundtrippers allowed by Tate since his freshman season in 2013.

Nesovic closed out the game for UCSB with a pair of scoreless innings. He allowed just a single in the eighth, but had to do a bit of a tightrope act in the ninth, as he loaded the bases on a single, walk, and hit by pitch.

Facing Heston Kiura, who was 2-3 with a home run to that point, Nesovic was able to end the game by inducing a sharp lineout to left field.

Surrey ended up taking the loss on the day for UCI, allowing nine runs on eight hits with two walks and three strikeouts in a 3 2/3 inning start.

Tomorrow, the Gauchos will go for their second series win over the Anteaters since their program was reinstated in 2002. Junior lefty Justin Jacome (7-3, 2.47) will be on the bump for UCSB, opposed by UCI righty Matt Esparza (8-1, 3.35).