It was back to business as usual for UCSB Baseball (6-3) Saturday night, as they beat Xavier (5-6), 4-2, behind power hitting and masterful pitching. Aaron Parker clubbed his third home run of the season and added a pair of doubles on the evening, scoring three of the Gauchos’ runs, and driving in the other. Matt Ager worked his third straight quality start, going seven innings and striking out eight to earn his second win on the season. Carter Benbrook earned a six-out save, setting down all six batters he faced.
HOW IT HAPPENED
Ager gave up a lead-off single but settled in afterwards, striking out the next batter he faced, then getting some help from his catcher. Parker caught the runner attempting to steal second, wiping that early single off the basepaths. Ager finished the inning with a second strikeout. From that point on, he was rock-steady, scattering three hits over the next three innings while striking out four.
The sophomore picked up some run support over those innings as well, and it was his battery-mate Parker helping out again. After Leo Mosby reached base on an errant throw following a dropped third strike to start the second inning, Parker crushed a hanging breaking ball well over the left field wall for his third home run of the season to put UCSB up, 2-0.
On his next trip to the plate, Parker led off the fourth inning with a double to center, and Zander Darby hit a double of his own to right to drive Parker in. After Ager stranded runners on the corner in the top of the sixth, Parker knocked his third straight extra-base hit of the evening in the bottom half, knocking his second double. A hit batter and infield single loaded the bases with one out, and Darby drove in Parker for a second time with a sacrifice fly, making the Gaucho lead 4-0.
Ager worked into the seventh inning for the first time in his career, but immediately gave up back-to-back home runs, making it a 4-2 game. In only his third collegiate start, the sophomore showed tremendous grit, getting the next three Xavier batters out in order, fielding his position well on a grounder to end the frame. Carter Benbrook relieved Ager for the eighth and ninth, sitting down all six Musketeers he faced, including a pair of strikeouts to lock down his first save of the season.
ON THE STAT SHEET
– Matt Ager’s seven innings are the most he has worked in a collegiate game; he finished with eight strikeouts to only two walks, scattering seven hits and giving up just the two earned runs. Saturday was his third consecutive quality start.
– Aaron Parker’s tremendous night at the plate was accompanied by another solid night behind it defensively; he caught his fourth base thief of the season on Saturday and still has not allowed a stolen base in six games.
– Speaking of Parker’s hitting, he led all batters in hits (3) and total bases (8) on Saturday; his second-inning home run ties him for the team lead with three long balls on the season.
– Zander Darby and LeTrey McCollum accounted for UCSB’s other two hits Saturday night; Darby’s was an RBI double, while McCollum’s was a single that never left the infield.
Eric Boose is assistant director of athletic communications at UCSB.