SANTA BARBARA, Calif. – Behind a solid start from freshman lefty Jack Dashwood and home runs from Sam Cohen and Armani Smith, the UC Santa Barbara baseball team was able to edge UTRGV 4-2 in Friday's series opener at Caesar Uyesaka Stadium.
Dashwood logged six-plus innings of one-run ball in the first-ever matchup between UCSB (12-13-1) and UTRGV (16-14), giving him one earned run or fewer against in four of his last five starts. Staked to a narrow 2-1 lead, junior righty Kevin Chandler got the Gauchos to the edge of the finish line with 2 2/3 innings of solid relief before the Vaqueros put a run across with two outs in the ninth. From that point, sophomore closer Shea Barry needed just four pitches to strike out Anthony Gomez and finish out the contest for his second save of the year.
Junior right fielder Michael McAdoo opened the scoring for UCSB in the second, sneaking a one-hopper under the glove of UTRGV shortstop Ivan Estrella to bring in junior left fielder Sam Cohen, who reached on a leadoff walk before moving into scoring position on a hit-and-run groundout.
The Vaqueros would go on to knot the score the very next half-inning, stringing together three straight two-out singles to get their only run off Dashwood, but that tie would be short-lived as UCSB took the lead for good in the bottom of the third.
Mother Nature played a helping hand in that go-ahead rally, as a pop fly from freshman second baseman Drew Williams that went for a wind-aided single put the Gauchos in business. Another tricky pop fly into shallow right, this time off the bat of Tommy Jew, gave the Vaqueros a tough time and hung in the air long enough for Williams to come all the way around from first base to score.
Strong defense from the left side of the infield in the middle innings allowed the Gauchos to hold on to that narrow lead.
In the fifth, shortstop Marcos Castanon wiped out a two-on, one-out situation for UTRGV by turning a 6-3 double-play to end the inning. Then in the sixth, freshman third baseman Jason Willow nullified a leadoff double from Coleman Grubbs by making nice plays on back-to-back grounders, holding the runner at second base and allowing Dashwood to escape the inning unscathed after freezing Matthew Mendoza on a 1-2 fastball for the third out.
UCSB added a pair of insurance runs in the late innings on solo home runs to right field, first on a Cohen moon shot in the sixth and then on an opposite field laser from Armani Smith in the eighth. Cohen's blast well over the right field fence put him back in a tie for the team lead in home runs at four.
The Gauchos aim to clinch their second consecutive series tomorrow afternoon, as sophomore righty Chris Lincoln (0-1, 2.15 ERA) is scheduled to start for UCSB opposite UTRGV southpaw Jorge Flores (3-2, 3.05 ERA). First pitch is slated for 2:00 p.m.