No.7 UCSB Holds on to Edge UC Davis 4-3, Ties School Record With 12th Straight Win

Rodney Boone (Photo by Tony Mastres)
Rodney Boone (Photo by Tony Mastres)

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. – Rodney Boone tossed 7.2 innings of three-hit ball and Jason Willow belted his first home run of the season for what turned out to be the game-winning run as No. 7 UC Santa Barbara edged UC Davis 4-3 to extend its winning streak to 12-games in a row, tying the school record for the second time this year. 

The Gauchos (30-5 overall, 8-1 Big West) also won 12 consecutive games over a four-week span in February and March, equaling a school record originally set during the 1984 season.

UCSB jumped on Aggies' (11-21, 3-9) starter Chris Brown for two runs in the bottom of the first. Tevin Mitchell, Eric Yang and Tommy Jew each produced a single to open the inning. Thomas Rowan and Armani Smith followed the trio of singles with back-to-back sacrifice flies, scoring Mitchell and Yang to make the score 2-0. 

The Gauchos added their final two runs in the fourth. Andrew Martinez began the inning with a deep drive to right center that narrowly missed exiting the stadium. Instead, Martinez settled for a triple and scored one out later when Cole Mueller hit a scoring fly ball to center field to make the score 3-0. The next batter, Willow, homered to left center field, his first round tripper of the season. 

"It took a little longer than I had hoped," Willow said. "But I'm glad it came today and that it turned out to be an important run." 

Meanwhile, Boone was cruising along against Davis. Through 7.0 innings, the freshman lefty allowed just two hits and no runs. In the top of the eighth he got the first two batters before the Aggies mounted a rally. 

With two outs, Spencer Gedestad walked and Garret Kelly singled, putting runners on first and third. UCSB head coach Andrew Checketts came to the mound and summoned reliever Michael McGreevy to face Cameron Briggs who immediately drilled a single to right field, plating Gedestad and sending Kelly to second. Pinch hitter Conner Longrie bounced a single through the left side, scoring Kelly to cut the lead in half, 4-2. Tanner Murray grounded out to end the inning. 

Chris Lincoln pitched the ninth inning for the Gauchos and things got interesting. 

Cooper Morrison opened the inning with a double into the gap in right center. After Logan Denholm flew out to left field, Caleb Van Blake grounded a ball to shortstop McLain O'Connor who made a spectacular diving stop and edged the runner at first base. Morrison moved to third on the play. Pinch hitter Alejandro Lara walked and was pinch run for at first base by Colton Evans. Gedestad then lined a single to left center, scoring Morrison and moving Evans to third. But that was as close as the Aggies would get as Lincoln got Kelly to swing and miss on a 1-2 pitch, ending the game and earning his ninth save of the season.

"This was a very good team effort," Willow said. "It got a little closer than we had hoped, but this team plays with a winner's mentality. We may have some ups-and-downs in games, but we are always focused on the outcome and that's what makes us the team we are."

UCSB will try to set a school record with a 13th consecutive win on Monday, April 22 when it travels to Cal State Bakersfield for a 6:00 p.m. game against the Roadrunners. The first time the Gauchos had a chance to break the record they fell on March 17 to visiting Cal Baptist.