SANTA BARBARA, Calif. – Coaches will always stress the importance of key hitting and a strong bullpen and the UC Santa Barbara baseball team used both to take the first game of a three-game set with Rhode Island on Thursday.
In a game that was moved up due to impending weather forecast for this weekend, the Gauchos (8-9 overall) drove in six runs with two outs and prevailed, 10-7. For Rhode Island (6-9), it was the Rams' sixth game in 10 days on their west coast swing.
The freshman right-hander wasn't his normally sharp self as he allowed seven runs (six earned) and 11 hits in six innings, but his offense picked him up.
As did reliever Zak Edgington.
The senior southpaw had one of his best outings of the 2012 season as he went the final three innings, allowing just one hit and striking out two, to earn his first career save. The Belmont, Calif. native threw 23 of his 31 pitches for strikes.
The Gauchos trailed early when Pat Quinn's fly ball popped out of Lance Roenicke's glove as the left fielder crashed into the fence, scoring a run and putting Quinn on third. However, Pettibone got the next hitter to fly out to end the first.
After URI scored twice in the third and once in the fourth, the Gauchos erupted in their half of the fourth inning.
Joe Winterburn was hit by a pitch with one out before Joe Woodward and Vertigan followed with singles. Roenicke drove in his second run when he was hit by a pitch. Trinkwon's sac fly scored Woodward and Wallace's two-out single brought in two more.
But UCSB wasn't done yet.
After Mahle walked and he and Wallace moved up 90 feet on a wild pitch, Bryce Tafelski hit a full-count single up the middle to score both and give the Gauchos an 8-4 lead.
Edgington entered with the score 8-6 in the seventh and held Rhode Island to just one hit the rest of the way. UCSB added two insurance runs on Mahle's two-run base hit in the eighth.
The Gauchos and Rams will finish their series with a doubleheader on Friday starting at 11:00 a.m. Tickets are available by calling 893-UCSB or clicking here.
Both games of the doubleheader will be broadcast live online – click here to listen!