No. 10 UCSB Baseball (32-11, 20-3) saw its 13-game Big West win streak ended Saturday night at the hands of host UC Irvine (26-18, 11-9), which took a back-and-forth game 11-10. The series is now even as the Gauchos drop their first middle game of conference play.
Christian Kirtley extended his on-base streak to 31 straight games, going 2-for-4 with a home run, and Bryce Willits extended his streak to 29 games, collecting a single, an RBI double, and a pair of walks.
Nick Vogt extended his team-best hit streak to 17-straight games, going 2-for-5 with a double and an RBI triple.
Gianni Bloom continues to perform in the absence of John Newman Jr., going 2-for-3 tonight with a two-run home run and a walk.
Kyle Johnson was the fifth Gaucho to notch a multi-hit effort, going 2-for-4 with a double, two RBI, and a run.
For the first time this season the Gauchos lost a game in which they out-hit the other team, picking up 13 hits to UCIs nine. They were previously 28-0 in that category.
UCSB got on the board in the top of the first as Willits drew a lead-off walk and quickly found himself at third after a double by Vogt. A wild pitch scored Willits and Johnson made it a 2-0 ball game with a sac-fly to bring in Vogt.
The host Anteaters tied the game in the bottom half with their first two runs of the series and promptly took their first lead of the weekend with another two-spot in the second inning to go up 4-2.
The Gauchos re-tied the game in the top of the third as Kirtley went deep over the left field wall with two-outs and Johnson standing on second. It was the left fielder’s eighth homer of the year.
The game continued to seesaw from there, as the ‘Eaters went up 5-4 scoring for the third straight inning and the Gauchos hanging another two in the top of the fourth on the back of Bloom’s two-run bomb to go up 6-5. The catcher now has three homers and four extra-base hits in his last four games.
In the bottom of the fourth, UCI plated another pair to regain the lead 7-6 and UCSB answered again, tying the game on an RBI single from Willits that plated Jason Willow.
The bottom of the sixth saw five different Gaucho pitchers come to the mound and the Anteaters do their most damage of the night with a four-spot that gave them a 11-7 advantage.
In a tight spot in the top of the eighth, the Gauchos did something they’ve done well all season and posted a huge two-out rally. Bloom singled, followed by an RBI double from Willits to make it a three-run game. Then it was Vogt tripling into the outfield to cut the lead once more and finally Johnson, who poked a single into the outfield to score Vogt to make it an 11-10 ballgame.
Nick Welch, who took the mound for the Gauchos in seventh, was highly effective, posting the only back-to-back zeros of the game, and gave his team a chance stranding runners in the eighth to keep it a one-run game heading into the final inning.
Nick Oakley got aboard with a lead-off single in the top of the ninth but would be stranded as the next three Gauchos went down in order to end the game.
Daniel Moebus-Bowles writes about sports for UCSB.