Despite being out hit 11-10 by USC and falling behind early, the UCSB baseball team pulled off a stunning 6-5 win on the road over the Trojans at Dedeaux Field for its fifth-midweek win of the year.
The Gauchos will now head into this weekend’s Cal Poly series at home with an improved 22-27 record and a 7-16 record on the road. USC, a team that has also had its share of struggles this season, drops to 19-29.
Starting right-handed pitcher for UCSB, junior Chris Clements (1-7, 7.00 ERA), allowed three runs off of five hits in the bottom of the first and second innings.
This allowed USC to take the early 3-0 advantage courtesy of a RBI single from shortstop Frankie Rios and freshman Blake Sabol’s two-run shot driven out of right field.
Then, in the bottom of the third, Steven Ledesma (2-5, 6.48 ERA) was brought in to pitch for Clements, giving up another single to Rios and walking one before the end of the inning.
The Gauchos dugout remained silent with no hits through three frames.
In the top of the fourth, UCSB finally got on the board when senior Billy Fredrick singled up the middle and junior Austin Bush knocked him in with a one-hopper off Trojans starting right-hander Mason Perryman (2-1, 4.38 ERA).
Ledesma then retired three in a row in the bottom of the fourth to end the inning to get the Gauchos back to work at the dish.
To open the fifth, UCSB shortstop JJ Muno crushed a solo homer to right to make it 3-2 ballgame in favor of the home team.
Following Muno, third baseman Kenny Corey, who made a return to the lineup after missing the last seven games, made it around the bases with a single up the middle, advancing to second on a single from freshman catcher Eric Yang, making it to third when junior Colton Burns grounded into a double play, and touching home plate due to a fielding error from USC first baseman Dillon Paulson to tie it all up at 3-3.
Freshman Liam Steigerwald (1-0, 0.00 ERA) then replaced Ledesma in the bottom of the fifth and earned himself the first win of his career with a stunning four-inning outing in which he got through unscathed, allowing the Trojans offense just one base hit.
UCSB’s bats stayed hot as they drove in one in the sixth with a RBI single from Muno and Bush’s two-run jack to left center scored two more in the seventh.
Bush now has 15 home runs on the year, a mark that places him in a tie for fifth for most dingers in a single season.
With the score at 6-3 heading into the bottom of the ninth, Shea Barry (1-1, 5.28 ERA) went to the mound for the final frame to seal the win for UCSB.
USC, having not scored since the third inning, swiftly started gaining momentum to force a close one and rattle the Gauchos just a bit.
The Trojans hammered four singles in their last at bats that plated two more runs to make it 6-5, but Barry popped up left fielder Lars Nootbaar for the final out to notch his fifth save of the year.
Thankfully for UCSB, they held on. To fall after such a gorgeous performance from their pitching staff and a solid offensive day would have been disheartening, to say the least.
Catch the ‘Chos back at Caesar Uyesaka Stadium on Friday at 3 p.m. as they take on their rival Mustangs to open an exciting Big West matchup series.