Not even the weather can cool down the UCSB baseball team’s hot start. Despite rain pushing Saturday’s game to Sunday for a doubleheader, the Gauchos pulled off a sweep of Princeton University to extend their winning streak to five.
UCSB improves to 7-1 on the season, one of the best starts in its programs history. Meanwhile, the Tigers go to 0-3 on the season.
UCSB completed the sweep in the second game of Sunday’s doubleheader with an 11-0 win behind the arm of freshman Shane Bieber, who went seven innings, striking out seven and not allowing a run.
Santa Barbara jumped on the Tigers in the first inning with three runs, followed by one additional run in the third inning. UCSB clinched the game with five runs in the seventh inning to win 11-0 after the game was called off one inning early.
“We put some quality hits together and put on a hit parade,” junior infielder Woody Woodward said. “The coaches did their homework on the guys they were going to throw and we just went up there with a plan and stuck to it.”
The first game of the doubleheader was a slugfest with weather conditions matching the play on the field. UCSB fell behind after a Princeton five-run inning in the top of the second inning, but scored four runs of its own in the bottom half to lead 6-5.
Sophomore pitcher Dylan Hecht was chased from the game after allowing runners to reach second and third base in the third inning; Hecht was charged with seven runs, five earned in 2.1 innings of work.
The usually dependable UCSB bullpen did not fare better and tacked on four runs in the inning. However, the Gauchos broke the game open in the seventh inning, exploding for five runs to break a 10-10 tie. UCSB added on to the lead in the following inning to take the game 18-10.
“We were sloppy in the field and I think we finally were able to get going,” Head Coach Andrew Checketts said. “That was like a bad football game; our guys plugged away and we found a way to win ugly.”
Sophomore Justin Jacome pitched one of his best games in the series opener on Friday. The lefty threw seven innings of shutout ball and struck out a career-high seven batters to pick up his first win of the season.
Setting the tone early by striking out five of the first six hitters faced, Jacome took a no-hitter into the fifth inning before being broken up. Jacome faced the minimum in what was his second time in his career shutting out the opposing side as starting pitcher.
“Our pitching staff is fantastic and we have all really good guys. There’s no drop off between the first, second and third guy,” Woodward said. “It’s a collective effort.”
UCSB broke the game open in the sixth inning after already leading by two runs. The Gauchos jumped on the new relief pitcher after two batters reached second and third base. A sacrifice fly, a wild pitch and a single turned into a three-run inning for UCSB.
Santa Barbara took advantage of a shaky Tiger bullpen and scored four runs in the eighth inning, capped off by a two-run homerun by senior third baseman Joey Epperson. UCSB took the game 9-1.
UCSB now prepares for Tuesday’s contest against Waseda University of Japan. First pitch is set for 2 p.m. at Caesar Uyesaka Stadium.
A version of this article appeared on page 10 of March 3, 2014’s print edition of The Daily Nexus.
Photo by Peter Vandenbelt of The Daily Nexus.