NO. 13 UCSB Finishes CSUN Sweep, Wins 12th Straight Home Game

JJ Muno (Photo by Tony Mastres)
JJ Muno (Photo by Tony Mastres)

SANTA BARBARA, Calif.Josh Adams went 3-5 with three runs driven in while right-handed pitchers Joe Record and Trevor Bettencourt combined to hold CSUN to two runs as No. 13 UC Santa Barbara finished off a three-game sweep of the Matadors with an 8-2 win on Sunday at Caesar Uyesaka Stadium.

It was the first time in the Checketts era that UCSB (24-7-1, 5-1 Big West) was able to finish off the sweep against CSUN (22-13, 1-8) after winning the first two games of the series in five consecutive years. The Gauchos went up 2-0 again in this year's set when Shane Bieber tossed a complete game four-hit shutout for a 1-0 win on Friday and the Gauchos rallied for a 5-4 win on Saturday.

The Gauchos have now won 12 straight games on their home turf, the longest such winning streak for the program since 1986 (14 games). With a 16-1 record at Caesar Uyesaka Stadium so far, the team has matched the program record for the best 17-hame start to a home schedule (1984).

Sophomore right-hander Joe Record tossed six effective innings to earn the win and move to 4-3 on the year, allowing two earned runs on seven hits with one walk while striking out six.

He was especially strong early on, allowing just three hits over five shutout innings to start the game. The Placentia, Calif. native struck out the side, all three swinging, on 12 pitches in a dominant fourth.

Though he faltered in the sixth and gave up a pair of runs, he recovered to get a lineout from Dylan Alexander and a weak groundout from Nolan Flashman to escape the inning without further damage.

His counterpart, CSUN's Conner O'Neil wasn't as lucky, getting tagged for six runs on eight hits in four-plus innings. He received the loss to drop to 3-4 on the year.

"Any time you can get a sweep of a good opponent, it's a big deal," said UCSB head coach Andrew Checketts. "We made O'Neil work, we didn't chase his off-speed pitches in the dirt. Our guys did a good job of staying disciplined and because of that we were able to hit fastballs when we saw them."

Leadoff man Andrew Calica represented that dynamic perfectly, working a 3-1 count in the bottom of the first before launching a fastball over the right field fence for a leadoff home run, UCSB's first this season.

The Gauchos went on to do most of their damage in the third and fourth innings, scoring a total of five runs to go up 6-0.

Adams provided the big charge in the third, hooking a line drive just inside the first base bag for a two-run double. Two batters later, sophomore DH Dempsey Grover skied a deep fly ball off the top of the left field fence for an RBI two-bagger.

Then in the fourth, junior right fielder Devon Gradford jumped on an 0-1 offering from O'Neil and sent it into the right field corner for an easy triple that brought in another two runs.

Inheriting a 7-2 lead, senior righty Trevor Bettencourt pitched three shutout innings to close out the game and earn his third save of the season.

The Tennessee transfer was at the top of his game, allowing just a single and retiring the final eight batters of the game in succession. He also struck out the side in the eighth, getting swings-and-misses from middle-of-the-order bats Albee Weiss and Nolan Bumstead.

UCSB will return to action tomorrow afternoon in a midweek contest against the Nevada Wolf Pack, with first pitch scheduled for 3:00 p.m. This weekend, the Gauchos will head north to take on Blue-Green rival Cal Poly for a three-game Big West series starting on Friday night at 6:00 p.m.