Rodney Boone was not at his best on the mound for the No. 20 UCSB baseball team on Sunday.
At least according to his coach.
“I thought he turned it around about halfway through or towards the tail end where the intent got a little bit better. He was getting a little internal and worried about some of the wrong stuff. We’re still working through that,” Gaucho coach Andrew Checketts said.
From that comment, it might sound like Boone got rocked during his outing against the University of San Francisco.
It was actually quite the opposite. The crafty left-hander allowed no runs on just one hit with three strikeouts and four walks in seven innings, and the offense and defense did the rest in a 6-2 win over the Dons.
“It shows you how good he can be when he’s got his C-game and he can go out and give up one hit in seven innings,” Checketts said. “That’s not a knock on San Francisco, that’s just how good Rod is.”
With the win, UCSB (9-5) completed a three-game sweep of San Francisco (4-11) heading into Big West Conference play next weekend at perennial power Cal State Fullerton. Checketts, though, still has his concerns.
“We’re still a work in progress,” he said. “We’re not where I’d hoped we would be at this point and where we’d anticipated we would be, especially the bullpen side of things. Offensively, I think we’ve been fine. We’re in the top 3 in the conference in most offensive categories.
“The offense has been good enough. The pitching and defense has left a lot to be desired. I thought this was a better week for that. The focus was better during the week on the defensive side. We still have some guys on the mound who we really need to get going. They haven’t thrown the ball the way we expect them too or the way they expect themselves too.”
While Sunday’s six-run offensive performance might seem to be plenty of support for Boone, it really wasn’t, considering it was only 1-0 UCSB heading to the bottom of the seventh inning.
Boone took it upon himself to keep the Gauchos ahead the entire time he was in there. Hayden Hattenbach and Ryan Harvey came out of the bullpen to close out the final two innings. San Francisco scored its two runs on solo home runs off of Harvey in the ninth inning.
“The results were better, and I thought the process was better, too,” Checketts said referring to the previous weekend, when the Gauchos were swept at home in a four-game series by Oregon. “We had been talking about that for a while. Even that Pepperdine (four-game) sweep (that we had) we didn’t feel like the process was very good
“I think it caught up to us against Oregon where the process still wasn’t very good. … We’ve been getting rewarded even though our process wasn’t great early. I thought we had a really good week of practice. I thought the mentality and intent was better during the week. I thought the process, for sure, was better.”
UCSB’s three-game sweep of San Francisco came in an unconventional way.
Thunder, lightning and heavy rain forced Friday’s opener to be postponed after four innings. The two teams then completed the game on Saturday, when they played an additional 10 innings, where the Gauchos won, 9-8, in 14 innings.
Santa Barbara trailed three times in extra innings, but managed a way to stay alive to be able to win it on a Jason Willow walk-off hit in the 14th.
“I think pulling that off allowed the guys to breathe a little bit,” Checketts said. “Obviously, they were able to go out and play well the next game.”
That was a 15-3 victory by UCSB on Saturday night.
As for Sunday’s game, the only offense by either team through the first six innings was Zach Rodriguez’s RBI single in the third that gave the Gauchos a 1-0 lead.
“Early on, it looked like two prize fighters in the 15th round just trying to wrap each other up because nobody’s got the energy to land a blow,” Checketts said.
UCSB opened up the game with a four-run seventh inning.
Left-fielder Broc Mortensen connected on a two-run single; Christian Kirtley contributed a sacrifice fly that scored Rodriguez, and Bryce Willits had a run-scoring single to give the Gauchos a 5-0 lead. Santa Barbara scored its final run in the eighth inning on an error by the Dons.
UCSB finished with seven hits, which included two by Willits and two by shortstop Jordan Sprinkle.