During his freshman season, the Moreno Valley native accumulated a 4.82 ERA with a 1-3 record. This year, Lincoln has turned that around and is currently sporting a 1.96 ERA with a 2-1 record and a career high 35 strikeouts. And, as a starter, the sophomore has been even better, allowing just seven earned runs in five starts with two of those being wins.
Even before coming to UCSB, Lincoln was a highly touted recruit that was selected in the 13th round of the MLB draft by the Toronto Blue Jays. Luckily for everyone involved with the UCSB baseball program, Lincoln chose Santa Barbara.
We were also lucky enough to catch up with Lincoln before the Gauchos’ big series against UC Davis and had some fun; here are the best highlights from that interview.
Jorge Mercado: Where is your confidence level at this season and how has it been adjusting to the starting rotation?
Chris Lincoln: I have felt really good lately, I just stay grinding and try to keep everything in front of me. This is still a learning experience for me, and I know I still have a lot to learn, but I just want to put my team in the best position to win and I think I have done a decent job so far. It’s been a lot of mental focusing this year and trying to attack hitters more this season, and it’s paid off.
JM: What was the most fun of the recruiting process?
CL: First off, the recruiting process was really hectic. It is easy to get overwhelmed with it, but the most fun part was getting calls from these coaches from all these different schools. That first call or first text from a new coach that says they are showing interest in you is really enjoyable because all your hard work is paying off even before you turn 18. I sometimes wish I could go back and live it all again because it was so enjoyable, but I know I made the best decision in coming to UC Santa Barbara and I would never change that for the world.
JM: What got you into baseball and why did you stick with it?
CL: I started playing when I was about four, and being athletic growing up I played all sports like football, basketball and track but there was something about baseball that I excelled at better. I was good at other sports, but I was just that much better as baseball and I rode that all the way to college and hopefully I could keep playing for a long time.
JM: Is there a team you would love to play for at the next level?
CL: Honestly, growing up in Southern California, you see how much of a diehard fanbase the Dodgers have, and I would love to be a part of their organization. I would also love to play for the Yankees, and that would be a dream come true.
JM: If you could pick any other sport to play and be great at, what would it be?
CL: I would pick basketball because I am kind of a flashy guy for the most part, and when you’re playing baseball and you’re on the field you have to reel it in a bit because baseball is more of a conservative game. If I was really good at basketball, it would be a bit easier to let my personality go and show my flashy side.
JM: If you could create the perfect pitcher, who would you model him after?
CL: He would probably look just like Clayton Kershaw because I just can’t think of anything wrong with him. I could breakdown a perfect pitcher, but honestly I would just end up breaking down Kershaw.
JM: Do you play Fortnite? How good are you?
CL: I just started getting into it, and I am much later than my friends because it didn’t look that enjoyable, but man, once you get into that first game, you just have to keep playing more and more, so I have been on it for a couple weeks now. I am so close to getting my first win and that makes it so much more agonizing because you keep getting top five, top three and then you make a simple mistake and lose. I will get there, though, and soon.
JM: Favorite thing about UCSB and its culture?
CL: I love the people. I mean the weather, the baseball team, all that is so great, but people and environment are so friendly and inviting. Everyone is so nice out here and they make it easy to fall in love with this place.
JM: Favorite Andrew Checketts moment?
CL: Checks does not really have a big personality, he is pretty straight forward and serious a lot of the time, but there is one drill we do where us as pitchers, we have to try to make plays off him, and he is trying to beat us with the ball, and that is when his personality really comes out. He has gotten some good laughs out of me.
JM: What legacy do you want to leave here at UCSB?
CL: I want people to remember me as a guy who was a model of what it looks like to be a pitcher. I want people to look back on me and tell the future generations of Gaucho pitchers that “that guy” is what it looks like to pitch here. I just want future pitchers to look back and say that’s the guy I want to be like.
A version of this story appeared on p. 6 of the April 19th, 2018, edition of the Daily Nexus.