After winning the first two games of a three-game series 7-0 and 4-2, the UC Santa Barbara Gauchos baseball team was not able to complete the sweep as they fell to the Cal Poly San Luis Obispo Mustangs by a score of 9-5. The Gauchos now have a Big West Conference record of 18-9 and sit in a two-way tie for second place in the conference with Cal State Fullerton. Both teams are chasing UC San Diego, and the Gauchos will need to sweep the University of Hawai’i at Mānoa Rainbow Warriors to tie the Tritons for first place. 

In the first game of the series, sophomore pitcher Matt Ager had a stellar performance as he pitched 7 scoreless innings while striking out 8 batters. Ager only allowed 5 hits and gave up 2 walks in his victory. With Ager firing on all cylinders and Gaucho fielders like redshirt senior Broc Mortensen providing solid defense, UCSB needed minimal offense to win but scored nonetheless. Junior infielder Nick Oakley had 4 RBIs and obtained them by hitting a 1-run home run and a double that scored 3. Sophomore outfielder Ivan Brethowr had 2 RBIs of his own and the Gauchos were able to complete the 7-0 shutout.

In the second game of the series, the UCSB offense made some noise as sophomore infielder Zander Darby hit a 1-run home run in the Gaucho’s second at-bat in the game. In the next inning, an error from Cal Poly and an RBI from freshman infielder Corey Nunez gave the Gauchos 2 more runs and increased the lead to 3-0. Junior pitcher Mike Gutierrez had a solid outing for UCSB as he started the game and allowed 1 run over 3 innings. In the fourth inning, Mortensen hit his 42nd home run and tied the record for most home runs hit as a UCSB player. The Mustangs were able to add 2 runs to make the score 4-2 but freshman pitcher Hudson Barrett obtained his sixth save of the season as he pitched 1.1 scoreless innings to give the Gauchos the win.

In the final game of the series, the Gauchos were not able to repeat the result of the previous 2 games as they fell to Cal Poly. This time around, it was the Mustangs who scored first as they put 2 runs on the board in the second inning. In the next inning, UCSB was able to tie up the game thanks to a 2 RBI single from Darby that scored Oakley and sophomore outfielder LeTrey McCollum. However, things quickly fell apart for the Gauchos as they gave up four more runs as the score changed to 6-2. The Gauchos were able to score 3 more runs, but they could not stop the Mustangs’ offense as Cal Poly added 3 more runs. In the end, the Gauchos lost the final game 9-5. 

With the 2-1 series win, the Gauchos now have an opportunity to be in a first-place tie in the Big West Conference. To do so, the Gauchos will need to sweep the Rainbow Warriors and gain their 21st conference win of the year. The series will be in Hawai’i, where the Gauchos will play on three consecutive days starting on May 25. The series will be available to stream on ESPN+. 

A version of this article appeared on p. 7 of the  May 25, 2023 print edition of the Daily Nexus.