San Diego State put together 14 hits to open the weekend series with a 5-3 win over UC Santa Barbara on Friday afternoon at Caesar Uyesaka Stadium.
The Aztecs (28-11) were led by Tyler Adkison and Danny Sheehan, each with 3 hits in the game. The Gauchos (16-19, 3-5 Big West) fought hard to keep the game close, but a ninth-inning rally by San Diego State proved to be the deciding factor in an unusual game.
Noah Davis, UCSB’s starting pitcher had his work cut out for him on the mound. After an Adkison single and stolen base, Julian Escobedo pushed the first run of the game across in the top of the second with a chopper just over JJ Muno’s head, scoring Adkison.
Then in the fifth, Alan Trejo got the inning started with a liner to center field. The next batter, Andrew Brown, got on by a fielding error, and was soon followed by a pair of hits from Jordan Verdon and Adkison once again to open the lead 3-0. Andrew Checketts, UCSB’s head coach, commented that San Diego State’s two-strike approach was, “really a nice job…they put the ball in play.”
However, the Gauchos bounced right back the next half-inning. With two outs, catcher Dempsey Grover laid down a great surprise bunt for a single. A pair of throwing errors on the play allowed Grover to advance from first to home in one play, cutting the lead to 3-1.
The next inning, the Gauchos came back to tie the game 3-3. Billy Fredrick reached on a fielding error to start the rally, followed shortly after by a single from DH Sam Cohen. A deep fly ball by Austin Bush allowed Fredrick to advance to third, then Tommy Jew followed with a seeing-eye RBI single, scoring Fredrick and advancing Cohen to third. With runners on the corners, Jew stole second and the catcher’s throw down nailed his pitcher on the lower back, allowing Cohen to come in and score.
Pitching 7 1/3 innings, Davis kept the Aztecs off the board in the sixth inning and recorded the first out in the 8th inning. After tossing 110 pitches, Checketts pullrf Davis and brought in Kevin Chandler for relief.
“He (Davis) gave us a chance today… still very competitive and throwing hard,” said Checketts of Davis.
A round of hits from Sheehan, Verdon, Brown, and Adkison pushed the Aztecs ahead 5-3 in the top of the ninth inning, with two of those hits coming with two strikes.
The Gauchos tried to fight back in the ninth with a lead-off single by Muno. However, the next three batters flew out to end the game.