Despite two home runs from Broc Mortensen, the UCSB baseball team lost to Cal State Fullerton, 10-9, in 10 innings on Sunday at Goodwin Field in Fullerton.
In defeat, the Gauchos (11-7, 2-2 Big West Conference) settled for a split of the four-game series after they won the first two, 9-1 and 11-4. But on Sunday, despite a strong offensive showing, UCSB’s bullpen failed. Relievers Chris Troye, Carter Benbrook, Ryan Harvey and Conner Dand each allowed at least one run, with Troye and Harvey allowing two runs each.
Left-hander Rodney Boone went the first five innings, during which he allowed four runs on five hits with three strikeouts and two walks. The Gaucho bullpen allowed eight walks bringing the total for the game to 10. UCSB pitchers combined to strikeout 11 batters, but it was the walks that eventually did them in.
“We walked 10 and they walked one, there’s your game right there. Cut that in half and we win in regulation. We wouldn’t need that extra inning,” Gaucho coach Andrew Checketts said. “I may have to make a change and get different people down there (in the bullpen).”
Checketts, who was visibly frustrated after the Gauchos blew a 7-4 lead in the seventh inning on Sunday, even went as far as suggesting he might move Michael McGreevy out of the starting rotation and put him in the bullpen.
McGreevy is one of the top starting pitchers in the Big West Conference.
“I’m even considering pulling McGreevy out of the starting rotation and throwing him down there so that the game’s we’re supposed to win when we’ve got leads, we can finish them,” Checketts said. “It’s always the walks (that hurt you). Hits happen, that stuff happens, but we were behind in the count a lot and we had to groove fastballs, which hurt us.”
Dand, according to Checketts, pitched well despite giving up the winning run in the bottom of the 10th.
UCSB’s right-hander struck out the side in the ninth and didn’t walk a batter in 1 ⅓ innings.
“Dand came in, did a good job and righted the ship (in terms of no walks),” Checketts said. “He ran out of gas a little bit. We were trying not to use him after he threw the day before. Other guys have got to be able to come in and do it … and they weren’t super sharp today.
“I don’t have the answer right now. I do know we’ve got to make some sort of adjustment on the mound or some sort of adjustment with the personnel that’s down there.”
Mortensen finished 3-for-4 with five runs batted in to lead the Gauchos’ offense.
UCSB’s first four batters, which included Mortensen, drove in eight of the nine runs.
“Besides the (second game of the doubleheader on Saturday, a 4-1 loss), offensively, we were great all weekend,” Checketts said. “We put a ton of quality at-bats together. We hit for power, hit the ball in the gap, hit the ball over the fence. We homered six times to their one, and we hit a bunch of doubles.”
That included four in a row in the seventh inning by Cole Cummings, Marcos Castanon, Mortensen and Zach Rodriguez, when UCSB scored three times to break a 4-4 tie. Mortensen gave the Gauchos a 3-2 lead with his first home run of the game in the third inning, and tied it 9-9 with a two-run shot in the ninth.
“When they punched us in the mouth, the offense picked us up and we kept charging back,” Checketts said. “The top of our order is pretty tough. It’s hard to get through Cummings, Castanon, Mortensen and Rodriguez right now.
“It’s hard to get through them. Not only can they hit, they can all hit the ball over the fence. The offense has been fantastic. We’ve had some blips here and there, the second game of the doubleheader (on Saturday) we gave away some at-bats, but they bounced back today. They’ve been resilient. They’ve had to be because our bullpen has been so leaky. The offense has had to keep fighting and scrapping, and they’ve done a good job with it.”
Despite giving up four runs in five innings, Boone graded out well with his head coach.
Checketts liked his aggressive approach that lacked a bit in his previous start against the University of San Francisco.
“The numbers weren’t as good as last week, but the process was better,” Checketts said. “Last week I know he only gave up one hit (in seven innings), but I don’t think anyone felt really comfortable with the approach and the stuff and the aggressiveness and the intent. Today, I thought it was better.
“I thought it was progress, I thought it was a step in the right direction. I know the box score won’t agree with me, but the box score is not as accurate in terms of the process.”
UCSB resumes Big West Conference play with a four-game home series against UC Davis which gets underway on Friday at 3 p.m.
WOMEN’S WATER POLO
UCSB 12-9, UC DAVIS 10-11
The Gauchos opened their home schedule with a doubleheader split against the Aggies.
The first game, which UCSB won, 12-10, was the only one of the two that counted in the Big West Conference standings. Mollie Simmons put the Gauchos ahead, 5-4, with a power-play goal in the final minute of the first quarter. Junior attacker Amanda Legaspi then made it 6-4 in favor of UCSB with a goal at the 6:41 mark of the second period.
Sophomore attacker Claire Kelly scored two goals for the Gauchos, while Savannah Burns scored her first collegiate goal with 5:18 remaining in regulation.
UCSB is 3-3 overall and 1-0 in the Big West Conference.
LONG BEACH STATE 3, UCSB 1
Randy DeWeese had a match-high 17 kills, but it wasn’t enough for the No. 3 Gauchos, who fell to The Beach in four sets in Long Beach.
UCSB won the first set 25-23, but then lost the next three 21-25, 20-25, 21-25. The defeat came one day after the Gauchos beat Long Beach at Rob Gym on the UCSB campus. The Beach finished with a hitting percentage of .345 on Sunday compared to .194 for the Gauchos.
Long Beach State was led by Spencer Olivier, who had 16 kills, and Clarke Godbold, who finished with 13.