SACRAMENTO, Calif. - No. 18 UC Santa Barbara pushed across two runs in the fifth inning and ace Dillon Tate was able to pitch around big jams in the fourth and seventh innings to lead the Gauchos past the Hornets 2-0 on Friday at John Smith Field.
With numerous scouts in the stands Tate and Hornet ace Brennan Leitao both pitched well but UC Santa Barbara (10-3) was able to plate the only runs of the game. Sacramento State (6-5) dropped its fourth straight contests after a six-game winning streak but had its chances to come away with a win on Friday.
In the bottom of the fourth, Hornet junior Nathan Lukes drew a one-out walk and junior Chris Lewis doubled down the left field line to put two runners in scoring position. Tate came back to strikeout freshman Vinny Esposito and got senior Scotty Burcham on a groundout to end the inning.
Lewis was in the middle of the threat in the seventh inning as well, leading off with a single to shortstop before Esposito drew a walk. Burcham then squared to bunt but pulled the bat back and lined the first pitch he saw off of Tate, who could not recover the ball in time to get an out as the Hornets loaded the bases with nobody out.
Creeping over 90 pitches on the afternoon, Tate buckled down to strike out the next three Hornet batters, all swinging with just one ball thrown to the trio, to escape the inning and finish a stellar afternoon.
The Gauchos did not have a lot of offensive threats in the game but took advantage of their best scoring chances in the fifth. Leitao got the first out on a fly ball to left but the Gauchos followed with a single and a hit batter before Andrew Calica singled through the right side to score the runner from second.
Leitao then had some control trouble, walking the next two batters, each on four pitches, to force in a second run. He battled back to get a fielders choice groundout to third to cut down a runner at the plate and then the Gauchos tried a double steal and had another runner out the plate to end the inning,
Sacramento State held the Gauchos to just seven singles but the two runs in the fifth proved to be enough. Tate went seven innings allowing five hits and three walks with 10 strikeouts and two UCSB relievers followed with perfect innings to close out the win. Leitao allowed six hits over five innings of work before junior Tyler Beardsley threw two perfect innings and junior Grant Kukuk and sophomore Chad Perry each had one scoreless frame.
Lewis had the only multi-hit game for the Hornets while Lukes saw his seven game hitting streak come to and end but had two walks. Only one Gaucho, third baseman Peter Maris, had a multi-hit day as Lewis had the only extra base knock of 12 total hits between the two teams.
Game two of the series at 1 p.m. Saturday figures to be another great pitching matchup as Hornet sophomore Sam Long, with a 1.54 season ERA, faces UCSB sophomore Shane Bieber, who has a 2.14 ERA