SANTA BARBARA, Calif. – After playing 11 of 15 on the road to start the season, UC Santa Barbara kicked off an 11-game homestand with offensive flair on Friday afternoon, batting around and scoring seven runs in the first inning of an eventual 12-4 victory over visiting Stony Brook University.
Headlined by a 3-5 afternoon from freshman right fielder Armani Smith, five separate batters had multiple-hit days for UCSB, which rapped out 15 hits as a team, improving to 6-10 overall and 4-1 at home in the process.
The Seawolves (4-11) made it interesting with a three-run sixth – including a leadoff homer from Casey Baker and a two-run double into the right field corner by Sean Buchkhout – to cut the lead to 7-4, but that was as close as they would get. SBU ultimately stranded a dozen runners on base over the course of the contest.
"We got them on the ropes early, but Stony Brook has pride, they're not going to roll over," said UCSB head coach Andrew Checketts. "What we're concerned about is sustainability. We won the game, but we've been telling our guys to forget about the scoreboard, and let's play quality baseball and let's play the game well."
UCSB received a bit of help from Stony Brook to light the fuse in the first, with second baseman Dan McEvoy booting a one-out grounder to let Billy Fredrick reach. The Gauchos went on to punish the Seawolves for that mistake, with the next eight batters reaching in succession.
Junior first baseman Austin Bush cashed in the first runs of the rally, drilling a one-hopper past SBU third baseman Nick Grande with the bases loaded for a two-run double. After a four-pitch walk to Sam Cohen, UCSB center fielder Tommy Jew brought in another pair of runs after ripping a double down the left field line.
On the ropes, Seawolves starter Bret Clarke didn't help himself after the two doubles, giving up a bases loaded single up the middle to Smith before walking in another run. UCSB leadoff hitter Colton Burns, who walked three times on the day to increase his league-leading total to 16, capped the scoring with a two-run double into the left-center gap.
Clarke recovered after his nightmare first inning to surrender just one hit over his final four frames, but still was saddled with the loss to drop to 0-2.
His counterpart, UCSB's Noah Davis, didn't have his best stuff but earned the victory to move to 4-1 on the year. Dating back to last season, the Gauchos have now won eight of his last nine starts.
After allowing four earned over six full, Davis handed the ball off to the bullpen, which responded with three shutout innings.
Freshman southpaw AJ Woodall was first up, wiggling out of a two-on, one-out jam to notch a scoreless seventh.
Freshman righty Chris Lincoln followed up with one of the more impressive outings of his young career, allowing just two singles over two scoreless innings to nail down his first-ever save.
The Gauchos and Seawolves resume their series tomorrow afternoon with a 2:00 p.m. contest at Caesar Uyesaka Stadium. Junior lefty Kyle Nelson (1-2, 5.30 ERA) is scheduled to start for UCSB opposite Stony Brook right-hander Sam Turcotte (0-0, 3.45 ERA).