Andrew Checketts finished off his first year as head coach of the UCSB baseball team with a neutral .500 record, but in high fashion with a 3-1 mark during the last weekend series of the season. The season-ending series saw UCSB sweep the University of Utah in two games and take a 1-1 mark against Cal State Bakersfield.
“I’m proud of the effort that the kids gave and the commitment level that they had,” Checketts said. “It’s never easy when a new coaching staff comes in and the guys have to learn a new system and a new style, but the guys handled it like men.”
All four games were played on the CSUB campus between the three teams and left the Gauchos with a 10-14 record in the Big West and a 28-28 mark overall. UCSB finishes at .500 overall: the same mark as last season and better than the 2009-2010 season’s .444 record.
UCSB opened the weekend against the Utes in an afternoon game that saw five different Gauchos get two hits apiece: junior outfielder Brett Vertigan, senior outfielder Lance Roenicke, sophomore infielder Brandon Trinkwon, junior infielder Marc Venning and senior lefthander Greg Mahle. The Gauchos hit the ball in to play 11 times on the day, nine more than the Utes, and took the 3-2 win to open the weekend.
“We got out early and attacked the pitcher,” Vertigan said. “We were able to hit and put up a few runs quick.”
Later that day UCSB faced CSUB and gave up the most runs it had all season in an 18-8 loss on the Roadrunner’s home field. Also making the record books was Vertigan, who hit his ninth triple of the year and in doing so set the single-season UCSB record.
Freshman lefthander Andrew Vasquez joined Vertigan in the record books by striking out enough batters in the game to jump past the 100-strikeout mark and was the first freshman to do so since Cy Young award-winner Barry Zito.
“We couldn’t get out of innings, and we were unable to get people out early,” Vertigan said. “We weren’t able to let our defense work, even though our offense did come to life, but we were too far into the hole to come back and win that game.”
UCSB’s third game on Saturday was commanded by senior lefthander Zak Edgington, who threw eight innings and gave up just one earned run in a 6-2 Gaucho win over Utah.
“[Edgington] works really fast, and he kept them on their heels,” Vertigan said. “He did a great job of throwing strikes and getting people out early.”
The final game of the weekend allowed Checketts to walk off the field with 28 wins, the most that a first-year head coach has had at UCSB.
Senior righthander Matt Vedo pitched his third save of the year, striking out four batters in two innings. Vertigan’s three hits added to his total of 90 on the year, which ranks at No. 6 in Gaucho baseball history.
“It was nice to play some quality baseball and finish off playing like we’ve wanted to play all year,” Checketts said. “Our short game was good, and our guy’s ability to execute and our ability to play team offense and play team offense with runners on third and less than two outs was really good; it was pretty impressive from an efficiency standpoint.”