The Gauchos came out of the opening series against the University of San Francisco with the series victory, taking 2 of 3 games.
In the opening game, the Gauchos played a sound game, committing no errors while the pitchers only allowed 5 hits. Sophomore right-handed pitcher Cory Lewis pitched a solid game, striking out 10 batters across 4.2 innings pitched, with the only blunder being he allowed 2 solo home runs. Coming in relief, sophomore left-handed pitcher Mike Gutierrez produced a dominant debut, striking out 5 batters across 4.1 innings and allowing just 1 hit and a walk across the innings in relief.
Being down and going into the 8th inning, senior catcher Gianni Bloom got the scoring started, driving in sophomore outfielder Steele Ledford with an RBI double. In the same inning, sophomore outfielder Nick Vogt singled in another 2 runs, extending the Gauchos’ lead to 4-2. Then, to add on, Ledford bunted in another run in the 9th inning to seal the Gauchos’ 5-2 victory.
Game 2 for the Gauchos was more of a sloppy affair, leading to their eventual loss. The first 2 pitchers for the Gauchos, sophomore right-handed pitcher Ryan Harvey and sophomore right-handed pitcher Nick Welch, kept it close but were bitten by the longball, giving up a 2-run homer with each having the Gauchos fall behind on both occasions. During the 8th inning of the game, the Gauchos gave up another 2 runs to San Francisco, but in this case, each run was unearned as there was an error committed by the second baseman and the pitcher, leading to each run and the Gauchos’ eventual 6-3 loss.
Luckily, Game 2 didn’t last long in the Gauchos’ head as they headed into the third game with their bats and arms red-hot. Starting off the scoring for the Gauchos was an unearned run from sophomore infielder Jordan Sprinkle, on a play in which sophomore outfielder Broc Mortensen was thrown out at second base. After an answer from the opposition in the 2nd inning to tie it, that was the last of their scoring as UC Santa Barbara went on a 10-0 unanswered run.
During the 5th inning, the Gauchos got it going, with solo home runs from Mortensen and Vogt. The 6th inning all but sealed the game as sophomore catcher John Newman Jr., junior utility player Christian Kirtley, senior outfielder and infielder Jason Willow, junior infielder Kyle Johnson, Mortensen and Vogt all picked up RBIs to make it a 11-1 ballgame. As for the arms, the bullpen provided a shutout behind sophomore right-handed pitcher Michael Rice, freshman left-handed pitcher Michael Splaine and freshman right-handed pitcher Matt Ager, while starter freshman right-handed pitcher Ryan Gallagher struck out 5 across 4.1 innings.
Overall, the Gauchos had a strong opening series and will look to ride the momentum against Loyola Marymount University and then the University of Nevada for their weekend series.
A version of this article appeared on p. 7 of the Feb. 24, 2022 print edition of the Daily Nexus.