UCSB took the series finale from Loyola Marymount on Sunday, winning 3-2 in a pitchers’ duel in Westchester. Senior southpaw Chuck Huggins pitched seven strong innings en route to his second victory in as many starts.
Huggins dazzled Loyola (3-5) through seven innings, allowing two earned runs on six hits, striking out eight and walking only two. Huggins, last year’s win leader at 6-2, proved valuable Sunday, giving the Gauchos bullpen some much-needed rest. Junior transfer Zach Samuels came on in relief of Huggins to pitch a scoreless eighth before giving way to Clayton Edwards, a redshirt sophomore from Simi Valley’s Royal High who slammed the door on the Lions, pitching a perfect ninth for his first save of the year.
LMU starter Lee Roberts threw six innings of four-hit ball, allowing only one run, striking out one and walking none. He didn’t get the offensive run support he needed and was saddled with the loss.
The Gauchos (5-3) got started with a pair of runs in the third inning. Chris Fox tripled down the right field line to lead off the inning. Two unsuccessful attempts to bring him home brought Mike Zuanich to the plate with two outs. Zuanich worked the count and eventually drew a walk off Roberts. That brought up John DeAlba, who saw a Roberts wild pitch sail to the backstop, allowing Fox to score easily from third and Zuanich to advance to second. DeAlba took the next pitch he saw and laced a double down the right field line, scoring Zuanich to make the score 2-0.
The resilient Lions answered the Gauchos in the bottom of the fourth, scoring two runs of their own. Designated hitter Sean Dovel sparked Loyala with a leadoff double to begin the fourth. Angelo Songco followed with an infield single, as Dovel scored on the play courtesy of a Huggins throwing error. Third baseman Ryan Wheeler’s sacrifice fly two at-bats later drove home Songco to tie the game, 2-2.
The Gauchos struck again in the sixth to regain the lead. DeAlba singled to third base with one out, and stole second on the following at-bat. With two out and DeAlba standing on second, senior Patrick Rose singled to dead center to score DeAlba, the eventual winning run.
It would be all the Gauchos would need as Huggins threw a scoreless seventh, giving way to Samuels and Edwards to close it out.
UCSB dropped game one of the series earlier in the day, resuming play of Friday’s game in the ninth inning. With the score tied, 6-6, in the top of the ninth, the Gauchos threatened with a leadoff double by Eric Oliver. A popup on the following at-bat gave way to DeAlba, who lined a pitch to right field as Oliver broke toward third at the crack of the bat. LMU right fielder Ollie Enos caught the ball and easily doubled up Oliver at second to end the threat.
Edwards came in to pitch the bottom of the ninth, and immediately surrendered a leadoff single to Songco. Will Dugoni pinch ran and eventually wound up on third after a groundout and a Shane Carlson throwing error. Enos stepped to the plate and drilled an Edwards offering into left field to score Dugoni and give the Lions the win, 7-6.
The Gauchos resume play at Caesar Uyesaka Stadium at 2 p.m. Tuesday against Cal Poly.