Photos Courtesy of David Cohen.
UC Santa Barbara busted out with six runs to break a scoreless tie in the ninth inning Friday afternoon at Matador Field. The Gauchos (26-20, 11-8) took a 6-1 win in the series opener at Cal State Northridge in a crucial Big West series for both ball clubs.
After Northridge closer Josh Goossen-Brown got a lineout and allowed a 1-2 single to Tyler Kuresa to start the ninth inning, he lost his control. He threw only one more strike to the final five batters he faced.
Cameron Newell singled on a 3-1 pitch. Marc Venning was hit by a 2-0 pitch, loading the bases. Luke Swenson broke the scoreless tie with a four-pitch walk. Jackson Morrow singled home two runs on a 1-0 pitch and Goossen-Brown hit Joey Epperson with his final pitch in a 2-0 count.
The Gauchos added three more runs after Goossen-Brown’s departure with Brandon Trinkwon delivering a two-run single and coming around to score on a passed ball and a wild pitch. Nate Ring knocked a solo homer in the bottom half of the inning to get the Matadors (30-19, 14-5) on the board, but it was too little, too late.
Northridge ace Jerry Keel showed no ill effects from pitching an inning of relief at No. 8 UCLA Tuesday night. He went eight innings, allowing four hits, two walks and no runs. He struck out seven, but did not factor into the decision as Santa Barbara’s Austin Pettibone went pitch-for-pitch with Keel.
After eight innings, neither team had scratched across a run, though both squandered opportunities.
In the third inning, Keel got himself into a big-time jam. A single caromed off of his foot and into the outfield. Keel then threw the ball away on a sacrifice bunt attempt and walked a batter to load the bases with no outs. But he was able to get a line drive double play at first base and then struck out Woody Woodward to end the threat.
The Matadors left a runner in scoring position in three different innings and Alexis Mercado bunted into a double play in the seventh inning to eliminate a leadoff single by Goossen-Brown.
Pettibone improved to 7-3 on the season with a six-hit complete game. He threw 113 pitches. Kuresa and Morrow were the only players to record multiple hits, though UC Santa Barbara did not have an extra-base hit.
With the loss and Cal State Fullerton defeating UC Riverside 14-7, Northridge falls two games back in the Big West race. The Matadors & Gauchos return to Matador Field Saturday afternoon at 1 p.m. PST with Calvin Copping on the bump for Northridge and Robby Nesovic trying to give Santa Barbara the series win.
Check out the 14-shot photo gallery from Friday afternoon’s series opener by David Cohen of BHE Photos: