FULLERTON — Broc Mortensen hit his fifth home run of the season Friday night, but it would be the only run for UCSB, as the Gauchos fell 8-1 to Cal State Fullerton in the second game of a three-game Big West series.
The loss leaves UCSB 6-2 in the Big West and 19-8 overall. Fullerton is 8-3 and 15-10.
The Gauchos might consider themselves unlucky to have been behind after the first two innings on Friday. In the first, Zander Darby singled with one out, then advanced to second, giving UCSB a runner in scoring position, but Aaron Parker lined out to shortstop.
In the bottom of the inning, Tyler Bremner was one strike away from working around a lead-off double, but his 3-2 pitch got smacked into left center to give the hosts a run.
In the second, the Gauchos once again had a runner on with just one out, but a line drive right to the Titan first baseman turned into a double play to end the inning.
Fullerton got on the board again in the bottom of the fourth, but Bremner came back and ended the inning with his sixth strikeout of the day. That gave UCSB their best chance to build momentum, as Mortensen led off the top of the fifth with a no-doubt home run to right field, cutting the deficit to just one run.
Bremner recorded strikeout number seven to start the bottom half of the fifth, but a walk and a single ended his evening, with Carter Benbrook relieving him.
The left-hander got out of the fifth unscathed, but gave up a pair of runs on a two-RBI single in the sixth. Aaron Parker led off the seventh with a double, hustling to make it all the way to second on a ball that bounced off the shortstop’s glove and rolled into shallow center. However, he was left stranded, and things would only get worse.
The Titans scored four runs in the bottom of the eighth inning, putting the game squarely out of reach.
Bremner took the loss, pitching 4.1 innings giving up six hits, two runs and striking out seven. He’s now 3-3 on the season.
Bremner’s seven strikeouts bring his season total to 48, the most by any Big West freshman pitcher, and the fifth-most among all pitchers in the conference.
With the series level at one game apiece, the Gauchos and Titans will play the rubber match Saturday with first pitch set for 1 p.m. in Fullerton.