SANTA BARBARA, Calif. – No. 19 UC Santa Barbara won its fourth straight and eighth out of nine games to start the season after defeating No. 14 UCLA by a score of 11-6 on Tuesday afternoon at Caesar Uyesaka Stadium.
Their first game back at home since winning the inaugural Tony Gwynn Classic over the weekend, the Gauchos (8-1) took advantage of a slow start by the Bruins (3-5), whose starting pitcher allowed five runs without giving up a hit over the first two frames.
Gywnn Classic MVP and reigning Big West Field Player of the Week Austin Bush kept up his hot-hitting ways with a 3-4 day including a triple and four RBIs. The sophomore slugger is now batting .542 this year.
Sophomore left fielder Josh Adams added a solo home run, his second of the year, and junior leadoff hitter Andrew Calica reached base four times – he might be a bit sore tomorrow after getting hit by a pitch three times – to round out the Gaucho offense.
UCLA looked to have the upper hand at the outset of the game, going up 2-0 after two batters following Eric Filia's home run inside the right field foul pole in the first inning.
But Bruins starter Justin Hooper struggled mightily with his command from the word go. In a three-run UCSB first, Hooper hit the first two batters he faced, issued three walks, and committed two errors. The Gauchos' opened their scoring on a Bush sac fly, tied the game on a passed ball, then went ahead on a wild pitch.
The Bruin southpaw fared little better in the next frame, walking the two leadoff batters before being lifted for reliever Scott Burke, who eventually allowed a two-run single up the middle to Bush.
After UCLA tied it in the top of the third, Adams put the Gauchos up for good with his solo blast to right-center field. The Gauchos tacked on three insurance runs – one via a Clay Fisher RBI single and two coming on separate wild pitches – in the fifth.
Whereas the Bruins couldn't recover from their early pitching miscues, the Gauchos did a good of settling down after allowing five runs in the first three innings.
The first man out of the bullpen, redshirt sophomore Kenny Chapman, was instrumental in helping UCSB turn the tide, as he turned in 2 2/3 innings of scoreless relief. In fact, after allowing a bunt single to the first batter he faced, he didn't allow a single hit the rest of his outing. The Claremont, Calif. native was rewarded with his first win of the season for his efforts.
Burke was the tough-luck loser for UCLA, moving to 0-1 on the season despite allowing just two hits over 3 1/3 innings of action.
The Gauchos continue their week of Pac-12 action by heading to No. 7 Oregon for a three-game series starting on Friday night at 6:00 p.m.