The midway game of the series between the UCSB baseball team and the Penn State Nittany Lions was headlined by the stellar pitching by the home team as both junior Noah Davis and redshirt junior Chris Clements pitched a combined one-hitter, shutout to clinch the series victory for UCSB.
Sunday’s victory inches the Gauchos closer to a more respectable mark as they boast a 4-6 overall record. The win also preserved the ‘Chos unbeaten 3-0 record at home. Penn State falls to 3-5 on the year and has lost its fifth-consecutive match.
Davis took the mound for the first time Sunday afternoon since making his first start on February 16th and allowed a single up the middle in the first to junior catcher Ryan Sloniger.
Davis got out of the first inning jam with two men on base and quickly settled into a rhythm in the subsequent innings.
The Huntington Beach native was consistent in his six innings of work and only appeared to get better as the game went on. The junior notched nine strikeouts and managed to strike out the side swinging in the top of the fifth before making his exit an inning later.
As usual the Gaucho bats took some time to heat up, but like in previous games the team managed to get the offense going in the fourth inning. Sophomore catcher Eric Yang hit an extra-base shot to left field which pushed sophomore utility Armani Smith across the plate for the first run scored in the game.
In what would eventually be three consecutive innings with at least one run scored, Clay Fisher had his own extra-base drive to center right where he picked up two RBI’s to increase the UCSB lead to 3-0 at the top of the 6th.
The home team’s final run of the game was scored by the quick-thinking feet of sophomore Tommy Jew and junior Thomas Rowan.
After advancing to third on Jew’s single to center, Rowan was able to score on a throw to second as Jew was trying to steal the bag. The 4-0 lead was enough for skipper Andrew Checketts to pull Davis and put in Chris Clements for his opportunity to pick up a save.
Like Davis, Clements was outstanding on the mound: allowing zero hits, zero runs, and striking out five over his three innings of work. The Gauchos cruised to victory after putting up two in the fifth, snagging the win, 4-0.
Clements made well of his first save opportunity of the season and should the redshirt junior be able to carry his pitching success in starting as well as in relief he looks to be a valuable tool for the team if they make another deep run into the NCAA tournament.
With today’s solid start, Davis bounced back from his previous outing against San Diego State where the junior was pulled in less than two innings in a game where he allowed three hits and five earned runs.
The Gauchos’ bats have been active all series against this Penn State pitching staff and the big four are making their usual impact felt in these important early season games.
Penn State starter Taylor Lehman pitched a solid five innings with two earned runs allowed, but with an offense that was completely stifled behind him the pitching staff could only do the best they could to keep the lead from getting worse.
Connor Larkin was called into the final two innings for the Penn State Nittany Lions and pitched well with no runs allowed. They are surely hoping for a bounce back game with a more active offense to support them.
UCSB will play the final game of the series against Penn State on Monday, March 5th at 2 PM PST at Caesar Uyesaka Stadium.