SANTA BARBARA, Calif - Heading into this weekend series the UC Santa Barbara baseball team had a wonderful opportunity to get above .500 for the first time this season, but in order to do so, it needed to sweep UTRGV.
Well, Sunday the Gauchos (14-13-1) did just that using a strong first inning and solid performance from senior pitcher Stevie Ledesma to earn a 7-5 victory over the Vaqueros (16-16) and give them their sixth-straight loss. This was a big win for UCSB as it heads back into conference play next week following a midweek match-up against LMU this Tuesday.
"The starting pitching was great all weekend and Willow looked fantastic at third all weekend and we saw some good performances from guys all around that gives us confidence heading back into conference play," Head Coach Andrew Checketts said.
In the bottom of the first inning, Santa Barbara got going early working two singles and a walk to get the bases loaded with one out bringing up junior right fielder Michael McAdoo. In Saturday's outing, McAdoo delivered a big blow with a three-run shot to right-center and the California native continued his great play with a two-RBI double to give the 'Chos a 2-0 lead. McAdoo would finish the day going 2-3 with the two aforementioned RBI's.
Junior Thomas Rowan was next up to the plate and did one even better for the home team hitting his first home run of the season, and his career, a three-run round-tripper to give UCSB the early 5-0 advantage.
"Rowan had a great day behind the plate and obviously with the big home run," Checketts said. "He's got a nice swing, nice power and we knew it was in there so it's nice to get him hot and provide some power for us."
Despite the early trouble in the first junior UTRGV pitcher Trevelle Hill settled down to give up just one hit over the next 3.1 innings, however, he would still pick up his third loss of the year.
The Gauchos would add one run in the fifth courtesy of an RBI double from sophomore center fielder Tommy Jew and one more run in the sixth thanks to an RBI single from Clay Fisher to give the home team a 7-0 lead through six innings.
On the other side of the mound, Ledesma continued his hot streak as a starter allowing no runs through the first six innings and just five hits. He would allow one more single with one out, which would eventually turn into a run, in the seventh inning ending his day. Ledesma, who also had five strikeouts on the year, is now 3-1 on the year.
"He was fantastic, he was in the strike zone and he really kept pounding it," Checketts said. "Stevie really picked us up with his performance with such a quality start and we needed it to get the sweep."
Freshman Ben Fariss would get the call out of the pen with a big lead for his second appearance of the season. He would struggle giving up two runs in the bottom of the seventh, one of which was credited to him while the other was given to Ledesma getting pulled before he could register an out.
Sophomore Shea Barry would come out of the pen and mitigate the damage in the seventh to still give UCSB the 7-2 lead after seven innings. Barry would find himself in trouble in the eighth, however, as he would give up two singles than a big two-RBI double cutting the lead to just three runs for the Gauchos.
The Simi Valley, California native would go on to seal the deal in the ninth, however, despite giving up one more run to give UCSB the 7-5 victory and giving them that much more momentum heading back into conference play.
Winners of eight of their last 10, the Gauchos have really appeared to catch some fire both at the plate and on the mound. As a whole, UCSB's weekend starters have allowed two earned or fewer in 11 straight games dating back to Mar. 17.
And at the plate, Santa Barbara is really doing some damage in the extra-base hit/home run department. After hitting 12 dingers in March, Santa Barbara has already hit six home runs in just four games during the month of April and is also slugging .467 at the plate.
However, the biggest thing for the Gauchos as they head back into conference play after the LMU game will be trying to pick up a road win, something it has not done this season withan 0-5 mark away from Santa Barbara. First things first, UCSB will look to pick up its first-midweek win since March 14th.
UCSB will take on Loyola Marymount at 3 p.m. on Tuesday, April 10th at Caesar Uyesaka Stadium.