A five-run 10th inning by the University of Oregon Baseball team allowed the Ducks to complete a four-game sweep of the UCSB Gauchos with a 9-4 win on Sunday at Caesar Uyesaka Stadium on the UCSB campus.
In what was the theme of the weekend for the Gauchos, the Ducks got to UCSB’s bullpen and didn’t let up. After Gaucho starter Cory Lewis turned in a solid outing by allowing two runs in 5 ⅓ innings, Ryan Harvey came out of the bullpen and allowed two runs in ⅔ of an inning, and J.D. Callahan was hit around in the 10th, allowing five runs, three earned.
UCSB let a 5-1 lead get away in the seventh inning on Friday in a 7-6 loss, and squandered a 4-0 lead in the first game of a doubleheader Saturday by watching the bullpen give up four runs in the eighth in a 5-4 loss.
Saturday’s second game of the doubleheader was a collective mess by the Gauchos in a 17-2 defeat.
“I told them before the game, regardless of the outcome, there’s clearly stuff we need to work on,” UCSB coach Andrew Checketts said. … “We lost the battle of the bullpens on the weekend. We were in position to win three of the four games.
“If you told me on Thursday that we’d have a 5-1 lead in the seventh and (reliever) Connor Roberts in the game, and a 4-0 lead with J.D. Callahan in the game on Saturday, and a chance to win on Sunday, I’d have taken that.”
UCSB (6-5) nearly pulled out Sunday’s series finale. In fact, had it not been for the defensive play of the weekend turned in by Oregon right fielder Aaron Zavala, second baseman Gavin Grant and catcher Jack Scanlon in the bottom of the ninth, the Gauchos would have won the game.
Tied 4-4, UCSB pinch-hitter Kyle Johnson ripped a line drive that hit three quarters of the way up on the right-field fence. Steele Ledford, who had singled with two outs, took off from first and eventually motored around third trying to score the winning run. But Zavala unleashed a perfect throw to Grant, who then turned and fired a throw to Scanlon that was right on the money. Ledford was not only out, to end the inning, he never reached home plate after Scanlon did a masterful job of blocking the plate.
“I thought it was going to go out, he hit it hard enough,” Checketts said of Johnson’s blast. “He hit it so hard that it was a pretty easy game of catch for them at that point. I haven’t gone back to see what kind of a jump Steele got on it, but we’ve got one of our best runners at first and we hit a ball off the wall, we’re going to go for that. Our third-base coach sent him, as he should have.
“We forced them to play catch, and they did. They were able to execute it. Pick it up, throw it to the first guy, throw it to the next guy. … I thought we had a chance there.”
Lewis turned in his third solid outing for the Gauchos to start the season.
Entering the game, the freshman right-hander had not allowed a run in eight innings — three in relief and five as a starter. After allowing two runs in the first inning on a solo home run by Kenyon Yovan and an RBI double by Josh Kasevich, Lewis settled in to pitch into the sixth inning with no further damage.
“He battled through it,” Checketts said. “I thought he was a little hesitant early, he gave up the homer and was backing off of it a little bit. I think he might have watched too much of the second game on Saturday,” Checketts added with a chuckle.
“But then he settled in and gave us a quality start.”
UCSB came back in Sunday’s game to force extra innings.
Trailing 4-1 in the eighth inning, the Gauchos gave the Ducks (6-2) a little of their own medicine by staging a rally that produced three runs. Broc Mortensen, a left-handed hitter, led off with a pinch-hit home run that sailed over the right-field fence. Jordan Sprinkle followed with a single and, two batters later, second baseman Marcos Castanon belted his third home run of the season, an opposite-field shot to right, to tie the game, 4-4.
“A lot of people are saying, ‘Hey, you guys are playing great.’ Well, we’re not playing great, but we’re winning,” Checketts said of his team that was 6-1 entering the series. “There’s a difference between winning and playing great, and we have yet to play great.
“We’re still a work in progress. The weekend exposed us for what we’ve got to get better at.”