Less than 24 hours removed from playing and winning a game at UC Irvine, the No. 19 UCSB baseball team was able to pull off its second consecutive comeback victory as it rallied from three down in the final inning to defeat Gonzaga at home 6-5 on Monday afternoon.
The victory puts the Gauchos at 36-16-1 on the season while maintaining their 12-9 conference record and current third place standing. They are now 23-4 on home and are currently riding a two-game winning streak. The Bulldogs finish the season at 33-17 and will look to get back to its winning ways as, before the two-game losing skid they are currently on, they won eight straight.
Gonzaga started off fast as sophomore outfielder Tyler Frost drove in three runs off a double to center field, taking an early 3-0 lead for his team.
UCSB responded in the bottom of the second frame as an RBI double from junior utility player Billy Fredrick and an RBI single from freshman infielder Tevin Mitchell made the score 3-2 still in favor of Gonzaga.
It would not be long before the Bulldogs struck back, as the next inning redshirt sophomore infielder Nick Brooks hit a two-run homer to left field to make the score 5-2.
The Gauchos responded with a run of its own in the bottom half of the frame to cut the lead to two runs, but that would be their last run for a long while.
Fortunately, the UCSB pitching staff responded by not allowing a single run in the final six innings to keep Gonzaga at five runs and setting up a chance for the Gauchos to win in walk-off fashion for the third time at home this season.
The rotation consisted of freshmen Kyle Hatton, Kevin Chandler and Noah Davis. Hatton allowed all five runs during the first three innings, but in the final four he pitched, he allowed no runs and only three hits.
Chandler pitched the eighth, allowing only one hit, while Davis pitched the ninth, allowing only two hits, picking up the win and making his record 5-3 on the season.
In the bottom of the final inning, the Gauchos batting finally came to life as they were able to score three runs on four hits to pick up a walk-off victory in its final nonconference game.
The comeback began when redshirt junior infielder Ryan Cumberland hit a sac fly to right field to make the score 5-4. The redshirt sophomore JJ Muno hit an RBI single to tie the game up at five.
Redshirt sophomore Clay Fisher flied out, moving Mitchell to third to become the possible go-ahead run. Then sophomore Austin Bush was up to the plate. The Gonzaga pitcher walked him while also throwing a wild pitch on the fourth ball, which scored Mitchell and sealed the Gauchos 6-5 victory.
It was another solid win for a team striving to rack up the victories as postseason play approaches. The 64-team NCAA tournament will be announced next Monday.
With its final series coming up and 36 solid wins on the season, clinching a series win over UC Riverside and maintaining a third place standing in the conference should be enough to get the team into the postseason. However, there is still work to be done, and it will be interesting to see how this young team closes the season.
UCSB’s next series is against UCR at Caesar Uyesaka Stadium beginning Thursday, May 26 at 3 p.m.