Photos Courtesy of David Cohen.
NORTHRIDGE, Calif. — Cal State Northridge brought the tying run to the plate with the bases loaded and no outs in the eighth inning, but couldn’t get the big hit it needed against UC Santa Barbara. Santa Barbara reliever Greg Mahle wriggled off the hook and the Gauchos (27-21, 12-8) took the series with a 6-2 win Saturday afternoon at Matador Field.
Mahle struck out pinch hitter Kyle Ferramola and got a lineout and a groundout to end the inning. He turned the ball over to Santa Barbara closer Dylan Hecht, who pitched a clean 1-2-3 ninth inning to close out Northridge (30-20, 14-6) and give Robby Nesovic the victory. Nesovic pitched six scoreless innings before being removed after walking the first two batters in the seventh inning.
UC Santa Barbara took a 1-0 lead in the third inning without getting a ball to the infield dirt. Jackson Morrow hit a chopper over Northridge starter Calvin Copping that landed in no-man’s land behind the mound. Joey Epperson followed with a chopper to third that Nicolas Osuna couldn’t get out of his glove. With two men on, Brandon Trinkwon was called upon to sacrifice bunt. He pushed the ball toward third base. Copping sprung off the mound and fired wide to first, allowing Morrow to score from second base. Copping limited the damage by striking out Woody Woodward and then inducing a 4-6-3 double play.
Epperson pushed the lead to 2-0 when he hit the first pitch of the fifth inning over the left field wall. The Gauchos added another run in the inning when Copping again had issues throwing to first base on a dribbler to the third base side of the mound, allowing Trinkwon to score from second base.
Santa Barbara blew the game open with three runs in the seventh inning. After a hit by pitch and two walks loaded the bases, Nesovic lined a shot into the left-centerfield gap for a two-run double. Newell followed with a bloop behind second base to make it 6-0.
The Matadors got two runs back in the bottom half of the inning, taking advantage of two leadoff walks. Nicolas Osuna doubled home one run and another scored on an infield single by Kyle Attl. But Northridge left runners on the corners in the seventh before stranding the bases loaded the next inning.
Copping took the loss, allowing three runs (two earned) on six hits and three walks in six innings of work. He struck out five. To go along with the win, Nesovic had two hits and two RBI. Cameron Newell had three hits for the Gauchos while Cal Vogelsang had three for CSUN.
The teams conclude the Big West series at Matador Field Sunday at 1 p.m. PST. Andrew Vazquez is set to start for UC Santa Barbara while John Salas will start for Cal State Northridge.
Check out the 12-photo gallery shot by David Cohen of BHE Photos of the action in Saturday’s sun-soaked contest: