In a game that featured three lead changes, two ties and 12 pitchers, the Dirtbags (30-17, 11-6) found a way to rally in the seventh with two down, handing UCSB (30-19, 9-8) its second loss of the series.
UCSB sent seven hitters to the plate in the top of the first inning, jumping out to an early two-run lead. With one out, Chris Fox drew a five-pitch walk to set the wheels in motion for the Gauchos. With Eric Oliver at the plate, head coach Bob Brontsema deployed the hit and run, and it worked to perfection as Oliver’s bounder through the right side allowed Fox to scamper into third.
Then, with runners on the corners, left-fielder Mike Zuanich added to his team-leading RBI total, singling through the left side to plate Fox for the first UCSB run of the game. Shortstop Shane Carlson continued his hot streak in the ensuing at-bat, as his bloop single into shallow left field scored Oliver from second. After one-half inning, the Gauchos found themselves in front, 2-0.
The Gauchos plated another run in the top of the third to increase their lead to three. With runners on the corners and one out, Carlson’s sacrifice fly to center field scored Oliver from third.
The Dirtbags scored a run in the bottom of the third with a two-out rally. After lead-off hitter Jonathan Jones’ double down the right-field line, left-fielder Steve Tinoco drove a ball through the middle of the Gaucho infield, plating the first LBSU run of the game. After three innings of play, UCSB held a two-run lead, 3-1.
Patrick Rose led off the fourth inning with a triple into the right center-field gap. Surprisingly, Rose wouldn’t score as he was gunned down at the plate on a dribbler back to the mound. It wouldn’t matter, as the Gauchos rallied with two down. With Jon DeAlba at first, second baseman Gunnar Terhune singled into shallow right field. Then, with runners on the corners, Brian Gump broke out of his slump in a big way, tripling into the left center-field gap. Gump’s third three-bagger of the year scored two, giving the Gauchos a 5-1 lead.
Long Beach was quick to strike back, scoring four runs in the bottom of the fourth. Danny Espinosa’s RBI triple, followed by Brandon Godfrey’s run-scoring single, cut the Gaucho lead to two, 5-3. After an RBI double off the bat of Jason Tweedy, Michael Martin came on in relief of Gaucho starter Mario Hollands. Martin hit the first batter he faced to tie the game, but did a fabulous job to quell the Dirtbag rally in the ensuing at-bats. The Red Bluff, Calif., native struck out Tinoco with the bases loaded, then induced the Dirtbag’s best hitter, Jason Corder, to ground into an inning-ending 4-6-3 double play. Miraculously, the Gauchos were able to escape with a 5-5 tie intact.
The Dirtbags broke the tie in the bottom of the fifth on an RBI single up the middle from Tweedy. Long Beach wasn’t done there, as two consecutive infield singles with the bases loaded plated two more Dirtbag runs. At the end of five, Long Beach held an 8-5 advantage.
UCSB fought back in the top of the sixth, scoring three runs on three hits. Rose got things started with a single into left field. After two Gaucho fly outs, Terhune drew a two-out walk. With runners on first and second, Gump continued his clutch night, doubling into right field. Gump’s second extra-base hit of the game scored two to bring the Gauchos within one, 8-7. With Gump on second, Fox delivered in a big way, singling up the middle to tie the game at eight all.
The tie wouldn’t last long as the Dirtbags scored twice in the bottom of the seventh. With Jones on first, Shane Peterson doubled to right field to put Long Beach up one, 9-8. Then, with two outs, Danny Espinosa laced an RBI single into left field to lengthen the Dirtbag lead to two, 10-8.
Click here for Saturday’s official box score and play-by-play.
UCSB resumes play at 1 p.m. today as it finishes out the three-game series against Long Beach State.