With the bases loaded in the bottom of the ninth, Ivan Brethowr knocked a single into right field, giving UCSB baseball (15-3, 3-0 Big West) their first and only lead of the day on Sunday, walking off the CSU Bakersfield Roadrunners (7-11, 0-3 Big West) for a 5-4 win to complete a three-game sweep. The Gauchos have now won ten games in a row and each of their last 15 against Bakersfield.
HOW IT HAPPENED
UCSB’s sweep bid got off to a bad start, as the first four Roadrunners reached base against starter Reed Moring. After a single and a walk, Moring gave up his first home run since the season’s opening weekend, which put CSUB up, 3-0. The visitors almost got another in the inning, following up the homer with a single and advancing that runner all the way to third before Moring got out of the frame.
The Gauchos responded immediately, getting a run back in the bottom of the first on a Broc Mortensen RBI single before leaving the bases loaded. Moring settled in on the mound, sitting the Roadrunners down in order in the second and working around an error in the third. With their pitcher back in his groove, the Gaucho bats got back into theirs, hitting a pair of home runs in the third to tie the game. Zander Darby crushed a no-doubter to right field on the very first pitch of the frame, then Mortensen took one to the opposite field to tie the game, perhaps getting some help from the wind, which was blowing firmly out to left field.
Moring’s day was done after four innings, with Tyler Bremner taking the mound to start the fifth. After striking out the first batter he faced on three pitches, the freshman from San Diego found himself in some hot water, as a throwing error by Darby allowed a runner to reach, and Bremner’s error on a pickoff attempt put the ‘Runner on second. With two outs, Bremner induced a ground ball to second, but Jonah Sebring took too much time fielding it and throwing to first. The batter was safe, and Bakersfield’s runner on second caught UCSB napping, scampering home.
Bremner got out of the fifth and struck out the side in the top of the sixth, then Sebring redeemed himself in the bottom half of the inning. He led off with a single to left center, stole second, and took third as the catcher’s throw sailed into center field. Thanks to Sebring’s aggressive baserunning, all it took was a Josh Williams sacrifice fly to center to tie the game.
Hudson Barrett relieved Bremner in the seventh, working into and out of a jam, as a pair of singles and another error loaded the bases, but the freshman lefty got a ground ball to get out of the inning. He worked a perfect eighth with a pair of strikeouts and into the ninth, with the game still tied. A hit batter and stolen base put a runner on second and ended Barrett’s afternoon, with Sam Whiting taking the mound. He walked the first batter he faced, but got a fly ball and a grounder to keep Bakersfield off the board and the Gauchos a chance for their first walk-off of the season.
Williams led off the inning with a hard-hit ground ball that ate up the Roadrunners’ first baseman, and while LeTrey McCollum squared up to try bunting Willams over, he saw four pitches off the plate and worked a walk. John Newman, Jr. was called on to pinch hit and lay down a bunt, which he did perfectly. The ball tight-roped the third base line, staying fair to load the bases for the team’s RBI leader, Brethowr. The sophomore from Kansas took three pitches before getting one he liked, dropping a walk-off single into right field.
ON THE STAT SHEET
• The Gauchos are now on a ten-game winning streak for the first time since 2019, when they won 13 straight games from the end of April to mid-May.
• Aaron Parker and Broc Mortensen each had two-hit games Sunday; Mortensen drove in a run with each of his hits to lead the team in RBI for the game.
• Sunday was the second game this season in which the Gauchos hit two home runs in the same inning, the other being their 10-0 win at Oregon, when they hit three in the eighth.
• UCSB was one of only two teams to sweep their opening Big West series this weekend, the other being UC San Diego over Long Beach State.
The Gauchos will be back in Big West action and back at Caesar Uyesaka Stadium next weekend as they will host a three-game series against the CSUN Matadors, March 24-26. First pitch times are set for 5:05 p.m. Friday, 4:05 p.m. Saturday, and 1:05 p.m. Sunday. All season, children ages 12 and under will receive free admission to Saturday and Sunday home games. For fans who cannot make it to the ballpark, the games will be live on ESPN+, with an audio broadcast and live stats available through ucsbgauchos.com.
Eric Boose is assistant director of athletic communications at UCSB.