Gauchos Throw Combined One-Hitter, Defeat Penn State 4-0

Noah Davis (photo by Eric Isaacs)
Noah Davis (photo by Eric Isaacs)

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. – Behind a six-inning gem from junior right-hander Noah Davis and a three-inning save from Chris Clements, the UC Santa Barbara baseball team threw a combined one-hitter to clinch a series win over Penn State with a 4-0 victory on Sunday afternoon at Caesar Uyesaka Stadium.

The dual masterpieces from Davis and Clements gave UCSB (4-6) its first one-hitter since Mar. 19, 2011 against Nevada and the team's first shutout since Mar. 25 of last year against New Mexico State. 

Davis, who had been limited to 2 2/3 innings so far this season for UCSB while battling a lingering injury, excelled in his most extensive action to date, limiting the Nittany Lions (3-5) to one hit over his outing.

Using all four pitches in his arsenal, Davis racked up nine strikeouts in the contest, finishing just one behind his career best.

Penn State only mounted any sort of tangible threat in the first inning, putting a runner in scoring position after the game's leadoff batter reached on a dropped pop-up then moved to second on a single from catcher Ryan Sloninger – PSU's only base hit of the day. However, UCSB's opening day starter shrugged off the danger and got Braxton Giavedoni to swing through a front door slider for an inning-ending strikeout.

Davis stayed in a groove for the majority of his outing, going 1-2-3 in the second and allowing just a single baserunner in the third and fourth innings. After a walk to lead off the fourth frame, Davis recovered to send down the final nine batters he faced in order, including a fifth inning in which he struck out the side.

"Noah had all his pitches working today and had some life on his fastball," said UCSB head coach Andrew Checketts. "If we can get six innings like that of Noah every week, we're going to be in pretty good shape."

The Gauchos pushed across the go-ahead and ultimate game-winning run in the fourth on an Eric Yang double into the left field corner to bring in Armani Smith, who reached on a one-out walk.

UCSB parlayed singles from Tevin Mitchell, who went 2-2 on the day, and Jason Willow into a pair of insurance runs in the fifth on a perfectly-placed fly ball from Clay Fisher that snuck between PSU's center and right fielders for a two-run double.

Redshirt junior Chris Clements helped finish off the shutout with a three-inning save, the first of his career. The Pacific Grove, Calif. native had arguably the best statistical outing of his career, allowing no hits and striking out five. The only batter that reached against him only got aboard because of a fielding error, and Clements responded by retiring six straight. In the ninth, he needed just 10 pitches to strike out the first two batters of the frame before ending the game with a lazy fly ball to center off the bat of Curtis Robison.

UCSB goes for the series sweep on Monday afternoon at 2:00 p.m. at Caesar Uyesaka Stadium. Sophomore lefty Ben Brecht (0-0, 4.26 ERA) will take the ball for UCSB while southpaw Dante Biasi (0-1, 15.43 ERA) will draw the start for PSU.