SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - No. 4 UC Santa Barbara struggled to get the offense going in game one of its series against Cal Poly dropping the contest, 3-0. The Gauchos tied their season low in hits on Friday mustering two but did work three walks. However, the team was unable to score any runs being shutout for the first time this season.
"Their guys pitched well and defensively they did not make any errors but we still didn't put a lot of pressure on them," Head Coach Andrew Checketts said.
UCSB (44-8 overall, 18-4 conference) will be looking to secure the Big West title tomorrow against Cal Poly (27-27 overall, 16-6 conference) who pulls within two games of the first-place Gauchos.
For the majority of the day, Cal Poly's Bobby Ay tossed a solid outing. The Mustang pitcher threw seven innings striking out eight batters while allowing two hits and walking three.
"He has a good breaking ball and we struggle with it. We had been working on hitting them all week and it wasn't a surprise but we just could not adjust," Checketts said.
Still, the Gauchos nearly got a couple runs off of him in the third inning. After first baseman Kyle Johnson worked a leadoff walk, Tevin Mitchell came up to the plate and blasted a ball towards left field that looked like it would carry past the wall.
Unfortunately, Cal Poly's Cole Cabrera leaped and snagged the ball to steal a pair of runs from the Gauchos and record the first out of the inning. The two-run shot would have tied it up for UCSB after Cal Poly took a 2-0 lead thanks to a two-run shot of their own in the first frame.
Cal Poly extended its lead to 3-0 in the fourth frame following safety squeeze bunt single up the first-base line which scored a run.
UC Santa Barbara had a rally going in the bottom of the sixth inning as with two outs, sophomore infielder Andrew Martinez singled down the left field line and would advance to third after a single from junior catcher Eric Yang.
With runners on the corners, senior utility Thomas Rowan came up to the plate hoping to get his team on the board but instead grounded out to third base.
With one out in the bottom of the ninth, again the Gauchos looked like they would homer to get on the board as Rowan lifted a shot to left field. But, again CP's Cabrera leaped and stole the would be a solo shot home run. The next UCSB batter flew out to center field to end the game.
Overall, it was a tough day for the Gauchos. Multiple batters came in hot, including Armani Smith who was working a 16-game hit streak before today. However, UCSB is still an incredible 26-2 at Caesar Uyesaka Stadium and even if the team did not have its best performance today, it will come out stronger tomorrow.
"No question we never want to lose at home and we don't want to freak out from what happened today but there has to be more of a sense of urgency. Cal Poly came in and kicked our butts so we have to show up harder tomorrow because it doesn't matter if we are playing to clinch a title or playing another game, we have to come out better," Checketts said.
First pitch for game two between UCSB and Cal Poly is at 3 p.m. tomorrow at Caesar Uyesaka Stadium. With a win, UCSB claims its first Big West title since 1986.