When they faced off against the Cal State Bakersfield Roadrunners last week, the Gauchos had their backs against the wall and were forced to wage a huge comeback to scrape out an 8-7 win against a team playing its inaugural Division I season. With frustration carrying over from a series loss to San Jose State last weekend, the UC Santa Barbara baseball team (22-12 overall) would make sure its third meeting of the season with CSUB was not close, running 18 hits across the board in a convincing 17-2 road blowout.
“It was kind of embarrassing almost losing at our own park last time,” sophomore starting pitcher Mario Hollands said. “It’s nice to see us respond in a big way by putting up so many runs.”
Junior infielder Ryan Cavan and senior shortstop Shane Carlson would lead the offensive charge with back-to-back jacks in the sixth inning, effectively putting an already lopsided score out of reach at 14-2. The Gaucho’s fifth- and sixth-place hitters both notched a career-high five RBI.
The breakout performances were crucial for both players. Carlson (.246 average, 5 HR, 23 RBI) had been having his worst hitting season to date, due in large part to an injury that has been hindering his swing. After his three-hit showing against Bakersfield, the defensive wizard saw his paltry batting average raise nearly twenty points as he works towards the astounding .349 clip he batted as a junior.
In the case of Cavan (.360 average, 2 HR, 23 RBI), a four-hit output marked the big day the utility player needed to get back on track. Playing as a shortstop, designated hitter and most recently a third baseman, the Chapman University transfer had seen his .400-plus average take a substantial dip in the past couple of weeks including a 1-for-11 showing at the plate in the team’s last three-game series.
“It’s good to see both of them getting going,” Hollands said. “Carlson is slowly finding his swing from last year, and it looks like the Cav-man is getting hot again, like he did to start the season.”
After a conference clash with rival Cal Poly this weekend, Santa Barbara will go for the season sweep of Bakersfield next Tuesday at home.