The UCSB baseball team improved their record to 18-20 Tuesday afternoon once it completed comeback 6-4 win against Cal State Bakersfield. The Roadrunners, now owners of a 20-16 overall record, got ahead with an early start, but the Gauchos would answer back and hold their lead due to a much-needed stellar performance from their bullpen.
On the mound for UCSB was big lefty Ben Brecht. After going seven Innings pitched in his last start against Pepperdine, Brecht would only go four innings against the Roadrunners giving up six hits and four earned runs altogether for a no decision in the contest.
The true freshman was shaken up early on in the first inning after giving up a leadoff double and two more base hits, which would lead to two runs off the young lefty.
Brecht, who had decent stuff in his outing, would come out for a much needed 1-2-3 frame before giving up one more run off a sacrifice fly from the second baseman David Metzgar in the third frame. In the fourth, senior shortstop Ryan Grotjohn would lead off the inning with a hustle double on a bloop to left field. Despite this, Brecht held the Roadrunners to one run, making the score 4-0 after the top half of the frame.
Even though this was not the start the Gauchos wanted from their young pitcher, the bats would pick up Brecht their young pitcher. In the bottom of the fourth, the Gauchos would finally get to Bakersfield own freshman pitcher Mathew Seibert.
With one out in the inning, the sixth hole hitter senior outfielder Billy Fredrick would get things going with a perfectly back-spun base-hit line drive to centerfield. Next, freshman outfielder Armani Smith would single up the middle right after Fredrick to knock out the right-handed Seibert. The reliever turned starter for the day would have a predictable short outing going only 3.1 IP with no strikeouts and giving up two earned runs.
However, even his relief pitcher, freshman Kenny Johnson could not stop UCSB from its big inning. JJ Muno would find barrel, singling through the left side. With back to back to back hits, the Gauchos had the bases loaded with only one out.
Eric Yang, the freshman catcher had the table set for his first collegiate hit to be a big one. Yang, although not getting a hit, would still get the job done hitting a high chopper to third not allowing a double play or a throw home to get the force out. The freshman catcher would get thrown out at first but a run would score.
The most clutch at bat of the day though would come next in the form of Colton Burns. The junior second baseman would come through with a two out double roped into the left center gap scoring both Smith and Muno making the score 4-3 through four complete.
In relief for Brecht, the true freshman righty Chris Lincoln would come in with some swagger to sit down Roadrunner batters. The pitcher who models his game after the late Yodano Ventura, came in and let it be known to the Gaucho coaching staff that they can have some faith in their youthful bullpen after a couple shaky outings.
Lincoln had his A+ stuff, wooing the crowd with his electric fastball and Wiffle ball-esque slider. The lengthy righty with an impressive pitcher’s build would go 3.1 IP giving up only two hits with as many strikeouts. Moving forward, especially after this outing, Lincoln could be a potential starter in future years for the Chos.
To back up a dominant bullpen performance from Lincoln, the Gauchos would continue to score runs as the game went on. During the sixth, reliever Malik Jones who oddly enough DH’d for Bakersfield in the game as well, balked in a run, scoring Armani Smith.
In the seventh though Austin “Big Daddy” Bush would make people understand why his nickname is “Big Daddy.” The Gaucho four hitter would hit a ball, not only over the first fence in right field, but over a second set of fences protecting transformers as well for a solo homerun. To simply put it, Bush didn’t just get a piece of it; he got the whole thing and disgraced the Ball’s entire family with one swing. The statement making go ahead home run from Bush would completely deflate the CSUB dugout and put all the air into the sails of UCSB.
JJ Muno would score the last run of the game for the Chos, giving a huge insurance run for UCSB. After a walk, Muno would wreak havoc on the base paths. With the offensive mindset of run-until-they-tag-ya, Muno would steal second and then steal third. While stealing third the throw from Bakersfield catcher Jake Oliver would short hop third baseman Brandon Heinrich and shoot into left field. Muno would score easy and manufacture a run in the most Pete Rose way possible.
With a two run lead, Shea Barry would come in to close it out for the Chos and had little trouble. Barry would continue to show why he is the most accountable pitcher to call on out of the pin by ending the game with a big strike out with a runner scoring position. The righty would collect his third save of the year and lower his team leading ERA to 2.53. The final score: 6 to 4 UCSB.
The Gauchos are now 14-9 at home this season. With a quality comeback win against a solid Bakersfield squad.
The Gauchos will have some momentum heading to UC Riverside for a three game weekend conference series starting Friday night at 6 p.m. Both Friday’s and Saturday’s matchups will be aired and available on ESPN 3.