When the final day of the regular season arrived for the UCSB baseball team, everything was on the line — the chance to host a regional game for only the second time in program history and, more importantly, the chance to win its first Big West title in 33 years.
In the Gauchos’ way was their bitter Blue-Green rival, the Cal Poly Mustangs. The Mustangs had taken the first two games of the three-contest set and were hoping to steal the third at Caesar Uyesaka Stadium to stake a share of the league title and earn its way into the NCAA Tournament.
With it being senior day for UCSB, it would have been fitting for a senior to step up and be the hero. Instead, it was a young freshman who made all the difference.
Left-handed freshman pitcher Rodney Boone pitched an amazing game that day. In possibly the biggest game of his career, the freshman tossed 8.1 innings, striking out a career-high 12 batters and allowing just five hits and three walks.
The Gauchos supported their young arm at the plate as they tallied 10 hits and scored seven runs.
By the end of the seventh, the Gauchos had a commanding 7-0 lead. Boone continued pitching into the ninth. After getting the first out of the inning, the freshman took his exit to an excited crowd that gave him a standing ovation.
Star junior closer Chris Lincoln came in and delivered the final two outs for Santa Barbara to secure the program’s first league title since 1986 and just third overall.
It was truly an amazing moment after the final out of the day. Players rushed the mound and celebrated for nearly an hour afterward with fans and family alike.
The Gauchos may not have done as much damage in the postseason as they wanted, but there is no doubt this was a successful season capped off by the best moment of the year.