OMAHA, Neb. – UC Santa Barbara baseball's historic postseason, featuring the team's first College World Series appearance and the longest road trip in UCSB Athletics history, came to a close on Wednesday evening at TD Ameritrade Park following a 3-0 loss to Arizona in game nine of the CWS.
The Gauchos, who went 1-2 in the Series, finish the year with a 43-20-1 record after being pegged to finish middle of the pack in the Big West before the season began. UCSB ended up going 6-2 in the postseason, including a 3-0 mark in the Nashville Regional at Vanderbilt and a 2-0 record in the Louisville Super Regional.
"I promised myself I wouldn't get emotional," said UCSB head coach Andrew Checketts. "But for these kids to get us here, to get this opportunity for our program, it's unique. At the end of the game all I could do was thank them for their effort, hard work, commitment, thank them for representing our university the right way, thank them for playing hard."
The Wildcats, the last Western region team remaining in the CWS, scored all of the game's runs in a three-run third.
After a single and walk led off the frame, Arizona parlayed those two into a run with back to back deep fly balls that advanced the lead runner. The very next batter, Jared Oliva, stretched the 'Cats lead with a two-run home run into the left field bullpen off UCSB starter Justin Kelly.
Junior right-hander Trevor Bettencourt, a Philadelphia Phillies draftee, entered the game with one on and nobody out in the fifth and proceeded to have his best outing of the year.
Bettencourt stranded his one inherited runner by striking out the side, eventually retiring the first 13 batters he faced while matching a career-high with seven strikeouts. He ended the day with just one hit allowed over five shutout innings.
"Every time I [looked around], I couldn't help but smile to know that situation was that intense yet I could look around and just feel lucky to be here," said Bettencourt. "It was cool. It was fun. I'm still not able to grasp it yet. I loved it."
Unfortunately for the Gauchos, they couldn't get anything going offensively against Arizona starter JC Cloney, who scattered five hits over seven-plus shutout frames.
UCSB never got a runner past second base and hit into three momentum-killing double plays.
The Gauchos had their best opportunity to score in the ninth, when a leadoff Clay Fisher double – UCSB's sole extra-base hit of the contest – and a Devon Gradford walk gave them two on with nobody out.
However, Wildcats' lefty reliver Cameron Ping recovered to strike out the next three batters in succession to preserve the shutout and advance to the bracket final against Oklahoma State.
Despite being eliminated from the College World Series, UCSB's players and coaches were not hanging their heads in the clubhouse after the game.
"Once we got to Nashville, it was just magic," said UCSB catcher Dempsey Grover. "We all banded together, shoulder to shoulder, and we were doing it for the guys next to us. It seemed to be a new guy stepping up every game. It was just awesome."
UCSB advanced to Wednesday's contest by defeating and eliminating No. 3 Miami 5-3 on Monday. The Gauchos were edged 1-0 in their CWS debut by Oklahoma State.