Smith, Nelson Deliver Checketts Milestone Win, Gauchos to Play Doubleheader Saturday

Smith, Nelson Deliver Checketts Milestone Win, Gauchos to Play Doubleheader Saturday

Fan advisory: Due to forecasted inclement weather, UC Santa Barbara and UC Davis have reconfigured the remainder of their baseball series, playing a doubleheader on Saturday starting at 11:30 AM, with the second game to begin 30 minutes after the conclusion of the first. The Gauchos and the Aggies will not play Sunday.

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. – UC Santa Barbara freshman second baseman Armani Smith and junior left-hander Kyle Nelson each turned in standout performances to lead UC Santa Barbara past UC Davis 6-3 in Friday's Big West series opener at Caesar Uyesaka Stadium, giving head coach Andrew Checketts his milestone 200th career win. 

Checketts becomes the fourth UCSB coach ever to reach the 200-victory mark, and is the second-fastest in program history to achieve the feat behind Al Ferrer.

Nelson led the way for UCSB (20-22, 6-7 Big West) on the mound with a 118-pitch complete game, the first of his career. The southpaw held the Aggies (13-24, 5-11) off the board for eight of their nine at-bats, striking out six while allowing just a pair of earned runs. 

Smith meanwhile did the heavy lifting for UCSB on offense, bringing in the go-ahead run with a bases-clearing double in the fourth before adding a moon shot over the left field scoreboard in the seventh, his second career roundtripper. 

"He does a nice job handling pitches away and can adjust in the at-bat, which is pretty special for a freshman to do," said Checketts. "He has been a pretty mature baseball player ever since he arrived on campus."

UC Davis opened the scoring in the top of the third after Elijah Ontiveros reached on an error and Ryan Hooper was hit by a pitch. Following a bunt to advance the runners, Ryan Anderson homered to left-center to make it 3-0 in favor of the visitors. 

However, Nelson bounced back after that three-spot by giving up just two hits and no runs the rest of the way.

An inning after the Aggies' rally, the Gauchos answered. A pair of singles by Dempsey Grover and Sam Cohen sparked the bottom of the fourth inning. A deep fly ball by Michael McAdoo allowed Grover to advance to third. The next batter JJ Muno hit a sac fly to center, scoring Grover. A few batters later the bases were loaded, which gave Armani Smith a chance to deliver. Smith, on a 3-2 count with two outs, shot a hard grounder just inside the first base bag and into the right field corner to bring in three, which put the Gauchos on top 4-3.

After a scoreless fifth inning, the Gauchos tacked on another run in the bottom of the 6th. Muno, after reaching on a fielder's choice, stole second after a failed pickoff attempt from the Aggies' starting pitcher Orlando Razo. A throwing error to second on a pickoff move then allowed Muno to advance to third. On a 2-2 count, Tevon Mitchell grounded out to short, which pushed Muno across giving the Gauchos a 5-3 lead.

Then in the bottom of the 7th, Smith gave the Gauchos an insurance run with a deep homerun over the scoreboard in lef tfield extending the lead to 6-3. 

The Aggies gave the Gauchos a scare in the top of the 8th with a hit by pitch and single, respectively, from the first two batters Alejandro Lara and Cameron Briggs. However, the next batter grounded into a 5-4-3 double play, and Mark Cardinalli grounded to short stranding Lara in scoring position. 

The Gauchos and Aggies will finish their series tomorrow with a doubleheader starting at 11:30 a.m. UCSBGauchos will carry live video broadcasts of both games.