The 26th ranked Gauchos split their doubleheader with Oregon on Saturday afternoon falling in game one 4-3 before earning their first win of the series in game two 5-4. This series rematch between UCSB Baseball and Oregon at PK Park has been as exciting as presumed with all three games being decided by one run.
Game One (Oregon 4-3)
Five different batters collected hits for the Gauchos in game one, including Broc Mortensen, who collected a two-run homer, and Bryce Willits, who blasted a solo shot, his first of the season.
Lefty Mike Gutierrez (1-1) took the bump to start for the Gauchos tossing 5.1 innings and allowing three earned in the loss, while striking out five. Sam Whiting was the sole ‘Cho out of the bullpen retiring both batters he faced.
Oregon took an early lead in the first game of the doubleheader, going up 2-0 in the first inning, and it took till the second time through the order for the Gaucho bats to get going.
When the top of the order came around in the top of the fourth, Sprinkle reached on an error and stole second, followed by a Kyle Johnson walk. An unfortunate double play pushed Sprinkle to third and brought up the big bat of Mortensen. With two out, the lefty took a 2-0 ball over the fence in right field to tie the game at 2-2.
The Ducks regained the lead with a run in the fourth and fifth forcing the Gauchos to come up with two more in top of the seventh, the final inning of the shortened contest.
The first two Gauchos went down in order before Willits stepped to the plate, rocking a home run over the right field wall to make it a one run game.
John Newman Jr. was next, singling up the middle to put the tying run on base, but that would be it for UCSB.
Game Two (UCSB 5-4)
JD Callahan earned the start for the Gauchos, tossing 3.1 innings and allowing three earned in the no-decision. Making just his second appearance of the season was Hayden Hattenbach, who was brilliant, tossing 3.1 innings of scoreless ball with three strikeouts and just two hits allowed in his first career win. Equally impressive was the arm of Matt Ager, who entered in the seventh and tossed 2.1 innings of nearly perfect ball. The freshman allowed just one baserunner to reach on a walk and struck out a pair in his first career save.
Nick Vogt went 3-for-3 in the game with a walk, a run, and an RBI.
Mortensen collected his second home run of the day and added two more RBI to his resume.
The Gauchos struck first in the nine-inning contest as Willits drew a lead-off walk in the top of the second and made his way to third on a single from Johnson. Gianni Bloom was next up, collecting a sac-fly to left field to bring in Willits and make it a 1-0 game.
Oregon wasted no time taking its first and only lead in the bottom half of the inning with a grand slam to go up 4-1.
Despite the hit, the Gauchos continued to work and did so quickly as Vogt collected an infield single to bring up Mortensen in the top of the third. The reigning Big West home run champ did what he does best, taking another ball clear over the wall in right field to make it a 4-3 game.
In came Hattenbach in the bottom of the fourth, inheriting a runner with one out. He would get out of the inning retiring two of the next three batters, and followed by shutting down the Ducks in order in both the fifth and sixth.
In the top of the sixth, Sprinkle collected a one-out single and made his way to second on a Zander Darby walk. Next up was Vogt, who notched an RBI single to right field to score the tying run in Sprinkle, but the Oregon defense could not end the play as an error would send Darby home and Vogt to third to give UCSB a 5-4 lead.
Ager entered in the seventh with two on and two out and retired the first batter he faced to preserve the lead. He retired the side in the eighth and faced the minimum batters in the ninth to pick up the seven-out save.
UCSB returns to PK Park tomorrow with hopes of splitting the series with the Ducks. First pitch is set for 12:00 PM.
Daniel Moebus-Bowles writes about sports for UCSB.