Walk-Off Grand Slam Wins it for Gauchos in the 11th

Walk-Off Grand Slam Wins it for Gauchos in the 11th

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. – Kyle Johnson hit a walk-off grand slam in the 11th inning to cap a wild 14-12 victory for the No. 19 UC Santa Barbara baseball team over Stephen F. Austin on Saturday afternoon at Caesar Uyesaka Stadium.

UCSB (22-5) clinched the series victory with the win in a seesaw affair that was the polar opposite of Friday's opening game that lasted just one hour and 53 minutes. Saturday's matchup ran a few minutes under four hours and was the first extra inning game of the season for the Gauchos.

All in all, the two teams combined for 26 runs on 29 hits with five errors and saw six tie scores and six lead changes. Nine different pitchers took the mound for the Lumberjacks (14-18) while UCSB sent out six different pitchers.

The Lumberjacks opened the scoring in the first with a Manny Vasquez home run to left, but UCSB responded with back-to-back RBI singles off the bat of Armani Smith and Andrew Martinez to take the lead, 2-1.

Jack Dashwood made the start for the Gauchos and went three innings, allowing just one earned run on five hits with two strikeouts. A pair of scary comebackers that deflected off the 6-foot-6 southpaw, and a pair of errors that led to three runs in the third for SFA, ultimately ended his day short.

Down 4-2 entering the bottom half of the third, Martinez came up big yet again with a two-out, two-RBI single to tie the game at 4-4.

Eric Yang followed in the fourth with his third home run of the year, a two-run blast to left to give the Gauchos a 6-4 lead.

As was the theme of the day, the lead did not last long as Josh Campbell hit a two-run home run of his own to tie the game at 6-6 in the top of the fifth.

Both teams scored a run apiece in the sixth before Campbell hit another two-run shot for SFA in the seventh.

A leadoff double from Thomas Rowan was later cashed in on a sac fly by Jason Willow to bring UCSB within one, 9-8 in the seventh.

It was three up, three down for both teams in the eighth, and in the ninth, with the Gauchos still chasing a run, Tommy Jew got things rolling with a leadoff triple to the gap in right center. With two outs and Jew still on third, a costly error from the Lumberjacks on a groundball from Martinez, allowed Jew to score for the tying run and send the game into extras.

After a quiet 10th, SFA strung together three hits and three walks for three runs in the 11th to seemingly put the game away.

UCSB never lost hope and went right back to work in the bottom half of the 11th as Rowan led off the inning with a single up the middle.  Smith followed with another single and Martinez walked to load the bases with nobody out. Jason Willow was then hit by a pitch to bring in a run and cut the deficit to two, 12-10, to bring Kyle Johnson to the plate. 

SFA went to the bullpen, but it made no difference as Johnson clobbered the first pitch he saw deep over the right-center field fence for the walk-off grand slam.

The Gauchos tied their season high with 18 hits, led by Smith who went 4-for-5 with a walk, a pair of runs and an RBI while Rowan finished 3-for-5 with a walk and four runs scored. McClain O'Connor also went 3-for-5 while Martinez, Yang and Jew collected two hits apiece. Behind Johnson's four RBIs on one swing of the bat, Martinez and Yang each added three RBIs.

Conner Dand (1-0) ended up with the win after coming in to get the final out of the 11th, which he did via strikeout. Alex Patterson started strong in relief, striking out four in his 2.1 innings while giving up two runs. Kevin Chandler gave up two runs on two hits while striking out two in his 2.2 innings and Shea Barry went 2.1 inning, giving up three runs on three hits. Christopher Troye also made an appearance, walking two batters in 0.1 innings.

UCSB jumped on SFA's starter Jacob Stobart for six runs on nine hits in four innings. Austin Hearn wound up with the loss after coming in to face Johnson in the 11th.

Santa Barbara and Stephen F. Austin will conclude series play tomorrow afternoon at 1:00 p.m. at Caesar Uyesaka Stadium.