Gauchos Sweep USF Doubleheader

Kyle Plantier (Photo by Eric Isaacs)
Kyle Plantier (Photo by Eric Isaacs)

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. – UC Santa Barbara won both ends of its doubleheader against the University of San Francisco on Saturday at Caesar Uyesaka Stadium in extremely disparate fashion.  

The Gauchos erased a 5-1 deficit as part of a late comeback in the opener of the twin bill, going ahead for good after a two-run rally in the eighth made it 6-5. UCSB then poured on the offense in a 13-5 blowout in the nightcap, rapping out 19 hits for just the third time in the Andrew Checketts era. 

"As much as I love pitching, it's nice to see our offense put up some runs and have good at-bats throughout the day," said Checketts.

The Gauchos moved to 3-0 on the young season and find themselves in position for a four-game sweep ahead of tomorrow's series finale. USF dropped to 0-3. 

Relievers claimed the win in both games for UCSB, with sophomore lefty Kyle Nelson throwing up 2 1/3 innings of spotless relief in the morning game and junior righty Trevor Bettencourt putting in a solid 3 2/3 outing in the nightcap. Sophomore righty Kenny Chapman was also outstanding in game one, stemming USF's offensive momentum in a three-inning, one hit appearance.

"I thought our middle relievers were the stars of the doubleheader today," said Checketts. "They did a good job of stomping out rallies and throwing up zeroes."

Junior center fielder Andrew Calica was the offensive standout on the day for UCSB, going 5-9 with four RBIs while smashing his first home run of the year. Sophomore first baseman/DH Kyle Plantier also went yard for the Gauchos, notching his first career roundtripper in the late innings of the nightcap.

UCSB will wrap up its four game series against USF tomorrow at 1:00 p.m. Sophomore right-hander Joe Record is schedule to take the ball for the Gauchos, while USF will counter with redshirt sophomore righty Grant Goodman.

GAME ONE RECAP

Chapman and Nelson combined to throw 5 1 /3 innings of scoreless relief and senior third baseman Ryan Clark provided a key two-run single in the bottom of the eighth inning to cap off a four-run UCSB comeback as the Gauchos took game one of Saturday's doubleheader by a score of 6-5. 

Trailing 5-1 heading into the bottom of the sixth inning, sophomore first baseman Kyle Plantier sparked a three-run, five-hit rally with a leadoff single into left field off USF starter Chase Gardner. After a groundout, four of the next five Gauchos to bat would record hits, including an RBI double down the right field line from junior DH Billy Fredrick and run-scoring singles from junior outfielders Devon Gradford and Andrew Calica

UCSB completed the comeback in a dramatic eighth inning. Dons reliever Scott Parker - who had a 1-2-3 inning after entering in the seventh - got himself into trouble by plunking Fredrick in the back on a two-strike count. Speedy freshman Joseph Hamilton came in to pinch run for the Gauchos after that, and the threat of a stolen base might have been creeping into Parker's mind, as he proceeded to hit freshman outfielder Michael McAdoo on the foot in the very next at-bat.

After a clutch two-strike sacrifice bunt from Gradford, Clark stepped up and smoked the first pitch he saw right under the glove of diving USF second baseman Aaron Ping - who was drawn-in on the play - to plate both the runners and take the lead. 

Nelson, who had retired the first four batters he faced after entering with two on in the seventh, went 1-2-3 in the ninth to earn his first win of the season. He struck out the final two batters of his outing, ending the game by getting Ryan Matranga to chase a two-strike breaking ball in the dirt. 

Dating back to last season, Nelson has now gone 29 1/3 innings over 15 appearances without allowing an earned run. 

Chapman was just as impressive in relief for the Gauchos, throwing three shutout innings while allowing just one hit and punching out three. He threw cold water on a USF offense that had scored five runs in four innings to that point.

Right-hander Noah Davis had an up-and-down start in his collegiate debut. The Perfect Game Preseason Big West Pitcher of the Year flashed a fastball as high as 93 miles per hour and struck out over a batter per inning, but he didn't make it past the fourth inning and allowed five runs on eight hits. He ended the day with five K's in 3 2/3 innings. 

Davis was at his best early, earning a punchout on three of his first four outs. He also shook off a leadoff home run in the third to freeze a pair of Dons batters and end the inning without further damage. 

McAdoo had the quite debut in a Gaucho uniform, shooting an RBI double into the right-center field gap to open the scoring for UCSB in the second and then singling into shallow right field in the fourth. His run in the eighth turned out to be the game winner. 

Clark had his second straight two-hit game to open the season, while Calica responded to an Opening Day 0-fer with a more familiar 2-4 performance. 

GAME TWO RECAP

Though San Francisco started off hot in the day's opener, it was all UCSB from the very get-go in the nightcap.

All nine of the Gauchos' starting position players recorded hits in the affair, headlined by Clay Fisher's four singles, Calica's 3-5 line,and a three-hit debut for freshman second baseman Tevin Mitchell. Bush, Plantier, and Fredrick all recorded multiple knocks as well as the Gauchos' reached the 19-hit plateau for just the third time since Checketts took over before the 2012 season.

After a 1-2-3 top of the first inning, UCSB went on to score three runs in the bottom half of the frame and had 11 runners cross home plate by the time the fourth inning was out.

The first three batters in the bottom of the first reached for the Gauchos to load the bases, and then USF made a pivotal error when its second baseman booted a tailor-made double play ball that scored a pair of runs. Another run would come across on Austin Bush's solid single into right field.

The Dons responded by scoring a pair of runs the next half-inning, but Calica restored UCSB's cushion by backspinning a line drive over the right-field fence to make it 5-2.

The Gauchos then put it out of reach with a six-run fourth that featured six hits and was aided by a pair of USF errors. With one run in already, Bush ripped another RBI single into right field to kick off a stretch in which five of six Gauchos would record base hits.

After UCSB starter Justin Kelly had to leave the game early due to injury, junior reliever Trevor Bettencourt shut the door on the Dons, allowing just one unearned run while striking out six in only 3 2/3 innings. The right-hander was awarded the decision in his UCSB debut.

His biggest moment came in the fifth, when he inherited a bases-loaded situation after Kelly – who struck out seven and allowed four earned runs in 4 1/3 innings – was forced to leave the contest. With only one out recorded, the Tennessee transfer sent down a pair of Dons batters with his signature curveball to end the threat.

Freshman righty Kevin Chandler pitched a scoreless ninth in his Gaucho debut.