It was a tough day at the plate for the UCSB baseball team as CSUF’s junior right-handed pitcher Colton Eastman tossed his first career no-hitter helping to lead the Titans past the Gauchos 3-0 in game one of this three-match conference series.
In a battle of two nine-win teams, it is Cal State Fullerton who gets to 10 wins first as it improves to 10-13 on the year, 1-0 Big West while Santa Barbara falls to 9-12-1 overall and 0-1 in conference.
Eastman’s no-hitter was the fifth in the storied program’s entire history and Fullerton’s first since 2014. The Fresno, California native had never pitched beyond the seventh inning before today’s spectacular finish.
From the beginning, Eastman looked dominant as the Gauchos were not even able to get a runner on base until he walked junior designated hitter Clay Fisher in the bottom the fourth with two outs on the board.
By then, Cal State Fullerton had already accumulated a 2-0 lead thanks to a strong second inning.
Freshman southpaw Jack Dashwood was on the mound in Thursday’s game and put together a solid outing despite a tough start.
In the first inning, Dashwood gave up two singles giving CSUF runners on first and second with one out. What could’ve turned into a rough inning was saved by a brilliant 6-4-3 double play converted by freshman infielder Andrew Martinez.
Still playing shortstop due to Fisher’s surgery last season, Martinez has quickly become a dominant force on the defensive end. Despite not having the flash Fisher has shown, the California native has been a consistent force at short, something UCSB could not find last season when Fisher was first hurt.
Despite that, Dashwood still found himself in trouble again in the second inning after Fullerton’s lead-off batter freshman catcher Tyler Lasch reached first on an error by third baseman Jason Willow.
After another single and a sac bunt, the Titans had runners on second and third with just one out. Freshman infielder Brett Borgogno then brought in a run with a single up the middle. CSUF would add one more run off a sac bunt to take the 2-0 lead.
Despite early troubles, Dashwood settled down striking out the side in both the third and fourth before giving up just two hits in the fifth that were not converted into runs.
In the sixth, however, Dashwood gave up one more run off another Borgogno RBI single. Borgogno finished the day 3-4 with two RBI’s while Dashwood’s day would end after the sixth inning. The freshman finished the day giving up eight hits, three runs, one earned and five K’s.
After yet another inning of nothing happening for the Gaucho offense in the bottom of the sixth, junior Kevin Chandler was called out of the bullpen in the seventh and played spectacularly.
In three innings of relief work, the right-hander allowed just two hits and gave up one walk while striking out two. Chandler is what helped keep the Gauchos in the game long enough to hold out hope.
In the bottom of the ninth, UCSB had its best chance to get the best of a tired Eastman. After Martinez struck out, sophomore center fielder Tommy Jew reached first after an error by the second baseman and then reached second base after a defensive indifference.
With Jew on second, Fisher was up to the plate and took first after being hit by a pitch. Junior Sam Cohen advanced the runners to second and third after a hard groundout.
With two outs, the game came down to freshman infielder Marcus Castanon. Like every batter before him on this day, Castanon was unable to get a hit off of Eastman and the game ended with Fullerton earning the 3-0 victory.
Eastman would finish the game with the aforementioned no-hitter striking out seven batters.
For UCSB, Thursday’s loss is a tough one to swallow. Obviously, credit goes to Eastman for a spectacular performance, but his play highlighted the big problem for Santa Barbara the past two seasons: consistent play at the plate.
UCSB will continue its series against CSUF at 3 p.m. on Friday, March 30 at Caesar Uyesaka Stadium.