Gauchos Rally to Take Series Against Cal State Fullerton

Armani Smith (Photo by Tony Mastres)
Armani Smith (Photo by Tony Mastres)

FULLERTON, Calif. – Armani Smith hit his seventh home run of the season and the No. 17 UC Santa Barbara baseball team rallied from a three-run deficit to defeat Cal State Fullerton 8-7 in the rubber match on Sunday afternoon at Goodwin Field.

The Gauchos (19-5, 2-1 Big West) start Big West Conference play strong with the series win, edging the Titans (12-13, 1-2 Big West) in a wild weekend series that featured a high-scoring trio of close games.

On Sunday, Michael McGreevy (4-0) earned the win after tossing 5.1 strong innings of relief, allowing just two runs on six hits while striking out five and walking none. Rodney Boone made the start for UCSB and lasted 3.2 innings, giving up seven hits and four runs with six strikeouts.

The Gauchos got on the scoreboard first after an error and a wild pitch allowed Andrew Martinez to make his way around the bases and score on a Kyle Johnson groundout.

UCSB made it 2-0 in the fourth after Smith singled and scored later as Tevin Mitchell was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded.

Cal State Fullerton responded with back-to-back home runs to lead off the bottom of the fourth, and added three more after an RBI single and a UCSB throwing error allowed the bases to clear.

Trailing 5-2, Santa Barbara chipped away at the lead with two runs in the fifth coming via an RBI double from Martinez and a Christian Kirtley sac fly.

Another RBI double, this time off the bat of Mitchell, tied the game at 5-5 in the sixth inning before UCSB brought home another on a Tommy Jew sac fly to take the lead. After a Thomas Rowan double, Smith gave the Gauchos the cushion they ended up needing with a two-run blast to right center field.

The Titans added one in the seventh and another on a home run in the eighth, but McGreevy was able to strand the tying run at second in the ninth to secure the win and series victory for UCSB.

Smith finished 3-for-5 with three runs and a pair of RBIs while Kirtley, Mitchell, Rowan and McClain O'Connor all added two hits apiece in the game. The Gauchos finished with 12 hits while the Titans tallied 13.

UCSB returns to Caesar Uyesaka on Tuesday, Apr. 2 at 3:00 p.m. to take on USC in a midweek matchup before hosting Stephen F. Austin in a three-game series this upcoming weekend.