SANTA BARBARA, Calif. – The UC Santa Barbara baseball team scored four runs in the bottom of the eighth inning to come from behind and defeat Hartford, 6-4, clinching its first series win of the 2019 season on Saturday afternoon.
Freshman left-hander Rodney Boone made his first start at Caesar Uyesaka Stadium and looked right at home. The Orange, Calif. native and Tustin High School product was untouchable through the first three innings, striking out six, including four straight at one point between the first and second frames.
Still scoreless entering the bottom of the third, the Gauchos put the first run on the board after a two-out RBI double from Thomas Rowan scored Eric Yang, who was hit by a pitch earlier in the inning.
Hartford responded in the top of the fourth with a leadoff single, followed by a two-run homerun off the bat of Ashton Bardzell to give the Hawks a 2-1 lead.
Armani Smith and Jason Willow led off the bottom half of the fourth with back-to-back singles, and after Tevin Mitchell was hit by a pitch to load the bases, Smith raced home to score on a shallow sac fly to left from Tommy Jew to tie the game, 2-2.
Hartford manufactured another run in the fifth to regain the lead, 3-2, after a pair of singles sandwiched by a sac bunt.
The Gauchos were sent down in order in both the sixth and seventh innings and entered the eighth still trailing by one. Rowan changed that in a hurry, launching the first pitch he saw just fair down the left field line for a game-tying homerun. The blast sparked a big four-run inning for UCSB, who would ultimately bat around in the inning. Tevin Mitchell drove a run in on a ground ball to shortstop with the bases loaded, and Andrew Martinez drove in two with a two-out single to left.
The Hawks did their best to make reliever Chris Lincoln work in the ninth, but were held to just one run as UCSB held on for the win.
Boone finished with nine strikeouts in six innings of work, being handed a no-decision after leaving the game trailing. Lincoln (1-0), meanwhile, picked up the win after tossing three innings in relief, allowing just one earned on three hits with four strikeouts and a walk.
Jake Regula (0-1) was tagged with the loss for Hartford, walking four and allowing four runs in three innings of work. Starter Billy DeVito made it through five, striking out five and allowing two earned on four hits. The Hawks staff was fairly wild once again with five hit batters in the game.
Offensively, Rowan led the way with a 2-for-5 day at the plate with two key RBIs and two runs. Smith went 2-for-4 with two runs and Martinez finished 1-for-3 with two RBIs.
Santa Barbara and Hartford are back at it tomorrow afternoon for the series finale beginning at 1:00 p.m.