SANTA BARBARA, Calif. – First baseman Austin Bush and DH Josh Adams chipped in key hits while pitchers Noah Davis and Kyle Nelson teamed up to limit USC to a pair of runs as No. 17 UC Santa Barbara won its ninth straight game via a 5-2 decision over the Trojans on Friday afternoon at Caesar Uyesaka Stadium.
In contrast to Thursday's 10-run outburst against USC, UCSB (18-3) had to scratch and claw for each its runs on Friday, notching just three hits on the day. Each of those hits was monumental though, and the Gauchos did an excellent job on the basepaths, taking the extra base often.
At nine games, this matches the 2014 and 2004 teams for the longest win streak for the program since 1990 (11 games). The Gauchos are now in striking distance of the all-time school record of 12 consecutive wins, set in 1984.
Trailing 2-0 heading into the last of the fourth, UCSB parlayed a pair of walks from USC (10-11) starter Brad Wegman into a tie score when Adams punched a 1-2 pitch down the left-field line for a two-run double.
The Gauchos went on to take the lead in the very next inning, with Bush singling home leadoff man Andrew Calica.
UCSB's center fielder did plenty of work in producing that run as well, as his speed no doubt crept into the back of USC third baseman Adalberto Carrillo's head as he booted Calica's swinging bunt down the third base line. He then took second base on a passed ball before scoring from second on Bush's grounder up the middle.
Like Calica, second baseman JJ Muno manufactured a run in the sixth almost all by himself. The sophomore reached base via his eighth hit by pitch of the season, then took advantage of Trojans reliever Andrew Wright by stealing both second and third, the latter without even a throw from catcher Jeremy Martinez. Muno finished off his tour of the bases by breaking for home and sliding past Martinez on a chopper from right fielder Michael McAdoo.
Muno later capped the game's scoring with an RBI triple into the right center gap, scoring Dempsey Grover.
"Josh gave us the big hit once again today," said UCSB head coach Andrew Checketts. "But the guys did a good job of grinding out at-bats and finding a way to get on base to set up the big swings."
Meanwhile, UCSB starter Noah Davis did his part to shut down the Trojans offense after a shaky start.
USC got the ball rolling in the first inning when David Oppenheim slapped a run-scoring double off the left field wall to go up 1-0. With UCSB at zero hits, the Trojans extended the lead to 2-0 in the third and looked to have the upper hand in the contest.
But from there Davis settled down, allowing just one hit the rest of his outing and retiring eight straight at one point.
The freshman righty finished the day with a line of one earned run allowed on four hits and four walks with four strikeouts over six full innings. He picked up his second win of the season in as many decisions.
"He did a really job of hanging in there and making pitches when he needed to," said Checketts. "He showed maturity to stay in there and battle, and I think he'll learn from that."
Nelson, UCSB's sophomore sensation, took over to start the seventh and shut the door on USC with a scoreless three-inning outing, netting his second save of the year.
The southpaw allowed one single in each inning, but did a nice job of pitching out of it all three times. He received a little help from Grover and shortstop Clay Fisher, who teamed up for a highlight-reel play on Reggie Southall's stolen base attempt in the seventh.
On a delayed steal, Grover delivered a strike to second base despite nobody being at the bag ready to receive the throw. Fisher made a lunging catch of the throw and then reached back across his body to make the tag on the sliding Southall for the second out of the inning.
UCSB will look to complete its fifth undefeated weekend of the season on Saturday afternoon behind the right arm of Joe Record, who will take the ball for UCSB with a 3-1 record and 3.66 ERA. The series finale, scheduled for 2:00 p.m., will take place at USC's Dedeaux Field. UCSBgauchos.com will carry a live audio broadcast of the contest, with Gerry Fall on the call.