It turns out UCSB baseball hits pretty well on short notice. The Gauchos (11-3) traveled to Cal Poly (3-10) on Sunday for a non-conference doubleheader they added to their schedule only the day before and hung 20 runs on the Mustangs to sweep the day, winning 12-4 in the opener and 8-4 in the nightcap. Ivan Brethowr led UCSB at the plate, with all three of hits going for extra bases — two home runs and a double — and a team-high six RBI across the two games. The Gaucho bullpen was unbeatable on Sunday, combining to work 17 scoreless innings. Carter Benbrook earned the win in game one, with Hudson Barrett getting the game two victory.
HOW IT HAPPENED
It was all Gauchos as the day got started, with Matt Ager sitting down the first nine Mustangs he faced, while the offense put bat to ball early and often. Jonah Sebring got the first of UCSB’s 20 hits with a one-out double in the first, then drove in the first Gaucho run with a single to right center in the third. UCSB blew things open in the top of the fourth, with Christian Kirtley and Corey Nunez knocking RBI singles of their own before Ivan Brethowr crushed his first homer of the day over the left field wall to make it 6-0.
The only problem was that Cal Poly got their offense going in the fourth too, adding a pair of runs in the inning and two more in the fifth, chasing Ager off the mound. Carter Benbrook stepped in in relief and shut the Mustangs back down, working 3.2 scoreless innings, scattering a hit and a walk while striking out three.
After being kept off the board in the fifth and sixth innings, the UCSB offense gave Benbrook some insurance in the eighth, with Brethowr’s second homer of the game bringing home LeTrey McCollum and making it a four-run game. The Gauchos put the game to bed in the top of the ninth, scoring four runs in the frame. Zander Darby got things started with an RBI double, then Christian Kirtley hit his second home run of the season, driving home Darby. Aaron Parker put the cherry on top with an RBI single, then Michael Rice pitched a scoreless bottom of the ninth.
The second game did not start quite as well for UCSB. Both teams left runners stranded on third in the first inning, and the Gauchos left another on second in the top of the second. Things only got worse in the bottom half of the inning, as Cal Poly got to Reed Moring, tallying four runs in the inning and chasing UCSB’s starter off the mound.
Jed Decooman came in and left the bases loaded to prevent any further damage. In the top of the third, the Gauchos went from preventing damage to dealing it, scoring four runs of their own to tie the game back up. Parker drove in another run, then Broc Mortensen hit his second home run of the season, taking the first pitch he saw to the opposite field, clearing the wall in left for a three-run shot.
From there, the game became a relief pitchers’ duel. Nick Welch took over for Decooman in the bottom of the third and worked four scoreless innings, allowing just two hits and striking out a pair of Mustangs. Hudson Barrett took over in the seventh and kept the Cal Poly bats silent, allowing only one baserunner in his three innings of work while striking out six. The freshman lefty would pick up the win, thanks to a ninth inning rally, sparked by Brethowr. With runners on first and second, the sophomore’s double un-tied the game and opened the floodgates. After Darby reached on a dropped pop-up, Parker’s bases-loaded walk made it 6-4 Gauchos, and Mortensen drove in two more runs with a single to right center.
ON THE STAT SHEET
– The Gaucho bullpen was excellent again on Sunday, pitching 13 innings without allowing a run; UCSB relievers are now on a 17-inning scoreless streak.
– Right field was the place to be for the Gauchos on Sunday; Ivan Brethowr went 2-5 with five RBI playing the position in the first game, then Broc Mortensen did the very same as game two’s right fielder.
– Corey Nunez had another quietly excellent day at the plate Sunday, going a combined 5-8 across the two games; the freshman shortstop leads the team in on-base percentage this season (.473) and is third in batting average (.370).
The Gauchos will be back on the road on Monday, as they head to Los Angeles for a game at Loyola Marymount at 6 p.m. Monday’s game was originally slated for Tuesday, but was moved up a day to avoid forecasted rainy weather. The game will be live streamed on the WCC Network. There will also be an audio only broadcast and live stats available. All of those links will be available on ucsbgauchos.com.
Eric Boose is assistant director of athletic communications at UCSB.