SAN DIEGO -- Redshirt junior Thomas Rowan drove in four runs in his first-ever start in the outfield, but the UC Santa Barbara baseball team ultimately wasn't able to overcome an early four-run deficit in an eventual 7-5 loss in Sunday's series finale against San Diego State.
The decision cemented a sweep for the Aztecs (3-0) in the opening series of the 2018 season for both teams. UCSB (0-3) outscored the home squad 5-3 over the final six innings of the contest, but the Aztecs emerged victorious by virtue of the 4-0 lead they built over the first three frames.
Rowan was the top performer for the Gauchos in what was the best team offensive effort of the early season. The Santa Ynez, Calif. native, who went 2-4 on the day, was joined in the multi-hit club by sophomore catcher Eric Yang (2-4, two runs scored) and junior right fielder Michael McAdoo (2-3, two runs scored).
SDSU's Chase Calabuig capped off an impressive opening series with a solo home run in the bottom of the first, giving the Aztecs an early lead they would not relinquish. They would go on to tack three more runs over the next two innings, including a two-run single from Matt Rudick in the third, before UCSB was able to break through in the fourth.
Yang opened the Gauchos' fourth inning rally by yanking a one-out double down the left field line. Rowan then clutched up a couple batters later, banging a single into center to score Yang and redshirt freshman Cole Mueller, who started at first base in his NCAA debut.
Rowan went on to cut the deficit to one in the sixth with a bases-loaded sac fly, scoring redshirt junior DH Clay Fisher who had singled to open the inning, giving him hits in the first three games of the season.
UCSB made its final charge in the eighth inning, parlaying a single from Yang and a double from McAdoo into a pair of runs after Mueller recorded an RBI groundout and Rowan laced another RBI single to center.
Unfortunately for the Gauchos, they couldn't produce the necessary magic in the ninth inning, mustering only an infield single as SDSU's Justin Goosen-Brown closed the door to pick up his first save of the year.
On the mound, sophomore righty Chris Lincoln had a second impressive outing for the Gauchos, tossing 1 2/3 innings of scoreless ball and allowing just one single. Redshirt junior Chris Clements drew the start for the Gauchos, eventually allowing three earned runs and striking out one over 1 2/3 innings.
The Gauchos will return to Santa Barbara this week for their home opener on Wednesday, Feb. 21, against Fresno State before flying to Texas next weekend for the Kleberg Bank Classic Tournament at Whataburger Field, the home venue of the Corpus Christi Hooks, Double-A affiliate of the Houston Astros.