UC Riverside quickly jumped out in front with a four-run first inning, taking a lead that they would not relinquish to defeat UCSB 7-3 Sunday afternoon at Caesar Uyesaka Stadium.
A highlight for UCSB(26-11, 7-8) in the loss was that Woody Woodward broke the single season record for most hit-by-pitches taken by a Gaucho with his 19th leading off the first inning, which was previously held by Josh McCanne in 2002 with 18. Woodward later picked up his 20th hit-by-pitch in the bottom of the ninth. UC Riverside broke their three-game slide with the victory and improved to 18-21, 7-5.
Woodward led the way on offense for the Gauchos by getting on base four times, going 1 for 2 with a walk and two hit-by-pitches. All of the starters for UCSB got on base at least once.
The story of the game primarily revolved around the very first frame of the game with the Highlanders at the plate. UC Riverside immediately loaded the bases with the first three hitters in the lineup. Nick Vilter and David Andriese cleared the bases with an RBI groundout and a two-run double back-to-back. With two outs, Drake Zarate smacked an RBI single to left-center field to send Andriese home and give the Highlanders a 4-0 lead.
UCSB got one back in the bottom of the inning, starting with Woodward getting on base after his record-breaking hit-by-pitch. He proceeded to steal second and advance to third on a throwing error by the catcher Matthew Ellis, then scored on Joey Epperson's RBI groundout. The Gauchos continued to come back with two runs in the fourth, cutting the deficit to 4-3. Scott Quinlan led off with a triple when the right fielder lost the ball in the sky. After Cameron Newell knocked in Quinlan with a sacrifice fly, the Gauchos added their second run with a one-out rally, capped by Woodward's RBI single.
However, UC Riverside would pull away with two runs in the sixth and one run in the eighth, crushing any hopes of a comeback for UCSB. Dylan Stuart came out of the bullpen for the Highlanders after the Gauchos scored their third run and had a magnificent performance, pitching the final 5.2 innings with no runs allowed.
On the mound for UCSB was freshman Shane Bieber, coming off an excellent performance at Long Beach State. Bieber struggled mightly in the four-run first inning. However, he recovered nicely, allowing no runs in the next four innings until the sixth when he allowed two runners on base before exiting. Bieber finished with 5.0 innings pitched with six runs allowed, four earned, and took the loss to drop to 2-2.
Ben Doucette started for UC Riverside and struggled, only pitching 3.1 innings while allowing three runs, all earned. Stuart earned the victory in his 5.2 innings of relief, recording his second win of the season.
Leading the way offensively for the Highlanders was Andriese with his 2 for 3 performance, including his two-run double in the first inning. Like the Gauchos, every starter in the Highlanders' lineup got on base at least once.
UCSB takes a day off tomorrow before hosting UCLA on Tuesday, with first pitch starting at 3:00 p.m. The Gauchos won the previous meeting with the Bruins back in February, going into Jackie Robinson Stadium and coming away with a 6-4 victory.