No. 9 UCSB (35-11, 21-3) baseball continued to run the show at Caesar Uyesaka Stadium, winning the series against Dixie State (19-30, 12-15) 7-6, going extra innings on an arid Saturday afternoon.
Starting pitcher Mike Gutierrez matched his career high of nine Ks after 5.1 innings pitched, only giving up three hits and two runs in his outing.
The hidden gem of the game was Jordan Sprinkle, who went 4-for-5 with a run and stolen base.
Christian Kirtley and Bryce Willits have now reached base in 35 and 33 straight games respectively. Willits ended the game with two hits and a RBI double.
John Newman Jr.’s consistency was felt as he went 2-for-2 with a run and a double.
Nick Vogt had two hits, one of which was a monster home run, his fifth homer of the season and sixth in his career.
Kyle Johnson had a walk-off two-run single in the bottom of the tenth.
The Trailblazers were awake and alert today as they ended the first frame tacking on two runs to the scoreboard. Guiterrez kept the damage at that, and Dixie State was unable to reach home again with him on the mound.
UCSB responded with haste at the bottom of the second. John Newman Jr. took the first pitch he saw to the gap towards left center field for a double; he went on to score the first run for the Gauchos with assists by Nick Oakley’s ground-out and Sprinkle’s base hit. A 425-foot homer towards dead center by Vogt brought home Willits and gave the Gauchos the lead for the first time in the game.
Dixie State was unbothered as they tied the game with a bases loaded walk in the sixth.
Willits doubled to right field to bring home Sprinkle, who had a base hit and stolen base to put the Gauchos on top again.
It became a back and forth game as both teams scored in the next few innings. However, the Trailblazers came out with a one run lead by the last frame when the Gauchos missed a scoring opportunity at the bottom of the eighth with the bases loaded and only one out.
Vogt’s home-run saving catch ended the top of the ninth frame to allow for a chance at redemption. Mortensen came through with a single to bring home Sprinkle who advanced to second base after a base hit and an error, tying the game.
With a hit-by-pitch by Vogt and a single from Brown, Willow’s sac bunt advanced the runners to third and second, respectively. Johnson slapped a walk-off single to drive the latter two home to win the series.
Daniel Moebus-Bowles writes about sports for UCSB.