If winning is contagious, then the UCSB baseball team definitely has the fever.
While most students used Spring Break for rest and relaxation, Santa Barbara’s boys of summer kept busy during the vacation, winning 10 out of their 11 games to improve to 21-8, their best start since 1990. The Gauchos currently own the best record of all the Big West teams.
Santa Barbara played most recently in the Verizon Rainbow Easter Tournament in Hawai’i, in which the Gauchos went 6-1 en route to securing the Tournament Crown.
However, UCSB reeled off three straight wins before heading to Hawai’i, beginning with an 8-6 win over Long Beach State, at Long Beach. The Gauchos then swept a doubleheader at Caesar Uyesaka Stadium versus Dartmouth, winning by scores of 8-7 and 12-6. Junior first baseman Tyler Von Schell and senior third baseman Dave Molidor led the way for Santa Barbara in the second game, as each player belted a home run.
Riding the momentum of its three-game winning streak, UCSB then traveled to Hawai’i, promptly topping perennial power Wichita State 9-4. Von Schell once again paced the Gaucho offense, going deep for the 10th time this season. But the real hero was Santa Barbara senior starter Rylie Ogle, who pitched his first complete game of the season. Ogle gave up only three earned runs and struck out seven batters, while improving to a robust 6-1 on the season.
UCSB continued its winning ways the following day, overpowering host Hawai’i as it pounded out 16 hits, winning 13-4. Junior hurler James Garcia turned in a dominating performance for UCSB, pitching seven strong innings, giving up only two runs and striking out eight. The Gauchos then ran their winning streak to six games with a 9-7 victory over Centenary, with both Molidor and senior first baseman Mike Kolbach going deep in the bottom of the sixth inning.
But Santa Barbara wasn’t done yet, and extended its winning streak to seven games the next day, with a 13-2 trouncing of Hawai’i Pacific. The Gauchos pounded out a season high 18 hits in the victory. Senior third second baseman Chad Peshke did most of the damage for Santa Barbara, swatting three extra-base hits and driving in three.
UCSB finally saw its winning streak end the following day, as Wichita State avenged an earlier loss to Santa Barbara, topping the Gauchos 6-3. But UCSB bounced back later in the day, beating the Japanese team of Kita-Kyusha 6-1. The second game was an exhibition and will not count toward Santa Barbara’s record.
Next up for the Gauchos was Lewis-Clark State, which UCSB easily disposed of 10-5. Ogle turned in another solid performance on the mound, pitching his second straight complete game, while Santa Barbara rallied from an early 3-1 deficit for the victory.
The Gauchos finished the tournament on April 1 with an 11 inning, 7-6 victory over Hawai’i to claim the tournament championship. Von Schell once again led the way for UCSB, blasting two home runs during the win.
Santa Barbara will now return home to square off against Westmont on Wednesday, before hosting Riverside in a three-game series over the weekend.