Stockton, Calif. - Pacific rallied to tie the game three times, but a ninth-inning triple gave UC Santa Barbara a 6-5 win Friday night in a wild game one of a three-game Big West series. Senior LF/CF Brett Christopher posted a pair of hits and two RBI for the Tigers including a game-tying single in the seventh.
Pacific posted a pair of runs in the bottom of the seventh to knot the game at 5-5, but UCSB 2B Brandon Trinkwon drove in the game-winning run in the top of the eighth with a triple to right field.
UC Santa Barbara benefited from three unearned runs to improve to 19-17 on the season and 5-5 in the Big West.
The Gauchos got on the board in the top of the first inning, manufacturing a run off Pacific RHP Michael Benson. CF Brett Vertigan opened the game with a ground-rule double to right center, advanced to third on a sacrifice bunt, and scored on an RBI groundout from by Trinkwon.
In the bottom of the second, Pacific answered as sophomore C Jason Taasaas walked, and went to third on a single by senior DH Daniel Johnston. After senior SS Garrett Borba was hit by a pitch to load the bases, Christopher beat out a potential double-play ball to bring home a run on the fielder's choice.
With runners on the corners, Christopher took off and UCSB LHP Andrew Vasquez threw over to first. Johnston came off the bag at third, hoping to make 1B Joey Wallace pause and allow Christopher to reach second, but Wallace charged across the diamond forcing Johnston to break for the plate. Catcher Joe Winterburn ran Johnston back towards the third-base bag, with Christopher coming all the way to third base. Winterburn's short throw to third bounced off the third-baseman's glove, allowing Johnston to score as the Tigers took a 2-1 lead.
In the top of the fourth, it was the Gauchos turn to force the action on the bases. Trinkwon singled to right and 3B Marc Venning singled to left. Both runners broke on a double-steal, and Taasaas' throw to 3B Dustin Torchio forced Trinkwon to stop between second and third. As Torchio ran towards both runners at second base, Trinkwon beat the throw back to second, and the throw to first to catch Venning retreating back to first skipped into the dugout allowing the tying run to score. DH Greg Mahle followed with a sacrifice fly to give UCSB a 3-2 lead.
Pacific answered back in the sixth, as Christopher doubled to left and scored on a RBI single to right by 2B Curtis Gomez to tie the game at 3-3.
In the UCSB seventh, the Gauchos tallied twice as Vertigan and LF Lance Roenicke walked. With the runners going, a hard-hit ball off the bat of Venning first went through 1B Erik Lockwood allowing both runners to score.
Vasquez left after six innings, allowing three runs, two earned, while striking out seven. He walked four and hit three Tiger batters.
Matthew Vedo entered and was greeted by back-to-back singles by Lockwood and Taasaas. A sinking liner to left center by senior RF Allen Riley was caught, but allowed Lockwood to trot home to cut the margin to 5-4. Junior PH/DH Tyger Pederson walked, and after LHP Kevin Gelinas replaced Vedo, Christopher singled over second base to bring home Taasaas and tie the game at 5-all.
Senior RHP John Prato Matthews took over for Benson after the seventh and pitched a perfect eighth, but Gelinas tossed a 1-2-3 bottom half.
In the ninth, Prato Matthews retired the first two Gauchos hitters, but a fastball inside hit Roenicke, who had to leave the game. Trinkwon laced a 0-1 pitch into the right field corner, scoring pinch runner Joe Lent with the go-ahead run.
Riley doubled with one-out in the bottom of the ninth, and junior PH Jacob Goulder was hit by pitch to put the winning run on with two outs, but Gelinas came back with a strikeout to end the game.
Gelinas (2-0) picked up the win, while Prato Matthews (2-6) was saddled with the loss. Benson's final line was seven innings, two earned runs on seven hits with three strikeouts.
The Tigers (11-25) fall to 1-6 in the Big West.
Game two of the series is set for a 6 p.m. first pitch at Klein Family Field.