The NCAA announced on March 12, 2020, the cancellation of all sports around the country, an unprecedented move brought about by the widespread COVID-19 virus.
Losing a school-record 10 players to the Major League Baseball draft upon the completion of the 2019 season, UCSB Head Coach Andrew Checketts admitted to baseball equipment company Easton that he really didn’t know what to expect.
But throughout the short season, the team bursted out the gates, the pitchers threw strikes, the lineup hit hard and they did it all when it mattered.
And speaking of that Checketts interview, it seems the gaffer has been doing well enough to take the time for some virtual interviews. Easton’s Instagram is where you’ll find the coach talking a bit more about everything to do with Gaucho baseball and, of course, a little bit about how social distancing has played a role in all of this.
Unfortunately for Easton, Zach Torra hadn’t quite yet become the seventh Gaucho to be named All-American under Checketts by the time of that interview.
Yeah, by the way, Torra is the seventh All-American Gaucho of the Checketts era.
Announced just a few days ago, Torra was named to the 2020 Collegiate Baseball Division I All-American Third Team after simply dazzling his way to a 0.36 ERA over 25.1 innings pitched. He went on to strikeout 39 of the 83 batters he faced while holding the opposition to a measly .133 batting average.
A 3-0 record on the season, Torra held opponents scoreless in three of his four starts, surrendering just a single run. Torra’s most impressive showing, perhaps, came on leap day when he struck out 12 batters over seven scoreless innings en route to a 10-0 series victory over the University of Illinois at Chicago.
And for the cherry on top, Torra’s 39 Ks was good enough to beat most in the Big West.
In other NCAA news, the organization’s council has voted to approve the addition of an extra year of eligibility for all students whose seasons were impacted by the coronavirus epidemic.
While much can be left to be desired from the 2020 season, nothing will come. However, this is great news to hear as student athletes around the country will at least be given the opportunity to compete once again.
And with that, here are some highlights and notes from 2020:
- UCSB played their first game under the newly constructed lights of Caesar Uyesaka Stadium on Feb. 17, defeating UC Berkeley 17-7.
- UCSB had been holding an eight-game winning streak when the season was terminated.
- UCSB handed No. 1 UC Los Angeles their first loss of the season in an 8-5 home victory on March 3.
- UCSB finished 5-0 against Power Five schools.
- UCSB finished first in the Big West Conference with a 13-2 record overall.
- UCSB finished with the fourth-highest winning percentage in the country at 86.7%.
- UCSB finished with a No. 18 average national ranking.
- UCSB’s pitching staff finished with a 1.84 ERA and 5 shutouts.
- UCSB hit .237 while holding opponents to a .172 average.
- UCSB hit 10 home runs, 5 triples and 22 doubles for 37 total extra-base hits over their 15 games.
- Six Gauchos played in all 15 games. Senior infielder McClain O’Connor barely eclipses fellow infielder and junior Marcos Castanon for most at-bats, while the latter barely eclipses the former for most hits on the team.
- Sophomore Christian Kirtley led all Gauchos with 6 doubles while O’Connor’s 2 triples outpace Castanon as well as sophomores Kyle Johnson and Mason Marquez, who are all tied at 1.
- Castanon hit 4 bombs for the team lead in home runs while also driving in the most batters with 17 RBIs.
- There was a dogfight for walks with Cole Cummings, Johnson and Kirtley all taking the slow way down to first base 9, 8 and 7 times, respectively.
- O’Connor’s 5 stolen bags was the most on the team with Steele Ledford and Jason Willow at 3 and 2, respectively.
- UCSB finished with a 7-1 record at home and 6-1 on the road.
- Three batters had 10 or more RBIs.
- Jorge Arellano Jr., Joshua Candau and Noah Owen all finished with a 0.00 ERA while Torra’s 0.36 and Michael McGreevy’s 0.99 were not far behind.
- UCSB had 10 pitchers finish with a sub-3.00 ERA and four with 20 or more strikeouts. Torra recorded 39 Ks and Rodney Boone recorded 31.
- Six UCSB pitchers finished with a K/9 of 9.00 or greater.
With the status of COVID-19 everchanging, the current outlook is one that seeks to have in-person schooling upon the start of fall. Despite this, some schools have already announced remote instruction for their fall terms as well as even the entire year. At the moment, expect to see the Gauchos back on the field for 2021, but don’t be too surprised if remote instruction and social distancing extends into next spring. Stay safe and we hope to see Caesar Uyesaka Stadium filled once more!