Sophomore right-hander Michael McGreevy pitched eight strong innings, but the Abilene Christian baseball team jumped on the UCSB bullpen in the ninth and beat the Gauchos, 5-4, in the final of their three-game series on Sunday at Caesar Uyesaka Stadium.
McGreevy pitched eight innings of five-hit ball, striking out eight while walking one in the no decision.
Jason Willow went 2-for-4 at the plate with 2 RBI, but a late-inning fightback by the visitors prevented the Gauchos from sweeping their first series of the season.
Senior shortstop McClain O’Connor led off the bottom of the first with a double to left center and advanced to third on sophomore third baseman Cole Cummings’ groundout in the following at-bat.
Junior second baseman Marcos Castanon struck out at the plate, but the ball skidded past Wildcat catcher Mitchell Dickson and Castanon raced to first base as O’Connor sprinted across the plate to put UCSB up 1-0.
A pitching battle ensued between McGreevy and Abilene Christian’s Nate Hawkins and Tanner Riley, as both parties allowed five hits apiece as great defensive play highlighted the afternoon’s affair.
It wasn’t until the ninth inning that Abilene Christian finally made its way onto the board.
With no outs and the bases loaded following a walk, single, and hit batter, first baseman Eric Wimpee scorched a three-run double down the right field line, giving the Wildcats the 3-1 lead.
A popup gave UCSB its first out of the inning, but left fielder Miller Ladusau singled in another run to extend the lead to three runs.
The damage wasn’t over yet, as a passed ball during center fielder Hayden Clearman’s at-bat saw Ladusau cross the plate to add a fifth run to the Wildcats’ tally.
Santa Barbara started on the comeback trail in the bottom half of the frame, with Castanon getting a base on balls and both sophomore DH Christian Kirtley and junior catcher Gianni Bloom singling to load the bases with no outs.
Following a pitching change, sophomore first baseman Kyle Johnson got Castanon across the plate and advanced Kirtley and Bloom into scoring position with a groundout to first base.
In the next at-bat, Willow sent a two-run single up the middle, closing the gap to a single run.
The Gauchos had the go-ahead run at the plate twice, but a pair of flyouts to the outfield ended the comeback bid and gave Abilene Christian the 5-4 victory.
Transfer pitcher Conner Roberts was given the loss, dropping to 1-1 on the season, while Abilene Christian’s Tanner Riley improved to 3-0 on the season with Colby Adkins earning his first save of the year.
The loss brought an end to the Gauchos’ five-game win streak.
UCSB (5-2) returns to action on Tuesday with a road matchup at LMU (3-5), with first pitch scheduled for 6 p.m. The game will be broadcast on the WCC Network and live stats will be available on the baseball schedule/results page.