SANTA BARBARA. Calif. - It was a sunny, windy Saturday filled with much promise for the UC Santa Barbara baseball team. With a win in its series finale against Hawai'i, the Gauchos (27-28-1, 10-14 Big West) would finish the 2018 campaign one game above .500. Along with that, it would finish with a sweep of its islander rivals and be tied for sixth place with the Rainbow Warriors in the standings.
Unfortunately, bullpen issues, something that has hurt Santa Barbara all year, came back to bite them once more as it dropped its final game of the season against Hawai'i (27-24, 11-13 Big West), 10-6. Still, the Gauchos have much to be proud of this season as they improved upon its mark last year and even finished one place better in the standings than it did last year.
Most importantly, many of UCSB's young studs came to play today, setting the stage for a much more successful 2019 season, leaving fans and coaches equally excited for the next game at Caesar Uyesaka Stadium.
Chris Clements, a redshirt junior, got the start today in what would be the final game for him as a Gaucho. He got himself in trouble in the first inning allowing one run and two hits. With one out and runners on first and second, Clements got Hawaii's No. 5 hitter to line out to shortstop Clay Fisher who then turned two by flipping it to second baseman Andrew Martinez at second effectively ending the top half of the inning.
UCSB then got off to a hot start of its own scoring three in the bottom half of the frame beginning with a lead-off home run by Martinez. It was the freshman's seventh homer of the season, the best mark on the team.
Martinez is one of many great young Gauchos that leaves much to be desired as he would finish the day 4-5 with two doubles, two RBI's and a triple shy of hitting the cycle.
Sophomore center fielder Tommy Jew, who got a single earlier in the frame, would come around to score thanks to a base knock from Cole Mueller. He would finish the day 2-5 and, more importantly, finished the season with a 15-game hitting streak.
Junior Tevin Mitchell brought in the last run of the first inning, ending the season with an 11-game hitting streak of his own, giving Santa Barbara a 3-1 lead after one.
In the third, Hawai'i finally got one back thanks to a solo shot to left field but UCSB retaliated with another RBI single from Mitchell in the bottom half of the inning to keep the lead at two runs with a 4-2 score.
The Rainbow Warriors would add one run in the fourth and one in the sixth to tie the game at 4-4. Clements was taken out of the game before he registered an out in the sixth finishing the day allowing seven hits and four earned runs.
Martinez would get his second RBI of the game with a single into left center giving the Gauchos the lead back at 5-4.
In the seventh, the game got away from the home team. Freshman Josh Candau was on the mound to begin the inning and an error by Mueller gave Hawai'i a runner to begin. A couple of base knocks later and Hawai'i tied the game at five ending Candau's day. Junior Alex Patterson then came in inheriting runners on first and second but only needing one out to get out of the jam.
Patterson's first pitch was rocketed by Hawai'i's Adam Fogel hitting the scoreboard at Caesar Uyesaka Stadium for a three-run dinger giving the road team an 8-5 lead. The Rainbow Warriors never looked back scoring two more runs in the eighth to take a 10-5 lead.
UCSB got one back in the ninth but could do no more losing the match 10-6 when all was said and done. It was the first time this season that UCSB got 15 hits in a day and still lost the ball game.
Even with the tough loss, there were still plenty of bright spots in today's game that has everyone excited. Martinez's aforementioned 4-5 day was exciting and so was Jew's 2-5 and Mueller's 2-4 day. Point being, UCSB still has a lot of talent coming back despite losing some good pieces.
Next season will be exciting with the additions of lights and, hopefully, seeing these young players shine under them.
UCSB finishes the season 27-28-1 overall, 10-14 in the Big West and seventh place in the conference standings.