No. 19 UCSB Baseball (22-8, 11-2) won its fourth straight game Thursday night, topping UC San Diego (12-20, 4-6) at home 10-6.
Broc Mortensen went 2-for-3 with a double, a home run, and three RBI. Blake Klassen tripled and John Newman Jr. doubled, as each added a pair of hits as well, and Bryce Willits went for a double and three RBI.
Cory Lewis earned the start but wouldn’t factor into the decision, tossing four innings of four-run ball. Michael Rice (5-0) was the pitcher of record with 3.1 strong innings where he allowed just two runs while striking out three in his fifth win of the season.
The Tritons were the first team to scratch in the series with a two-run homer in the top of the third, but the Gauchos hung a three-spot in the fourth to take their first lead. Kyle Johnson led off with a walk, Broc Mortensen joined him on the paths with an HBP, and a single by Newman Jr. loaded the bases. With one out, Zander Darby poked a single through the left side to score two and Jordan Sprinkle gave UCSB the lead with an RBI sac-fly.
That lead lasted just a few outs, as UCSD earned another pair of runs in the top of the 5th to go up 4-3, but the Gauchos were quick to respond with a four-spot in the bottom half. Once again they loaded the bases, this time with no outs, and Nick Vogt tied the game with an RBI single. Next was Mortensen, who crushed his ninth home run of the season, a three-run no-doubter that sailed over the right field wall to give UCSB a 7-4 lead.
Blake Klassen led off the bottom of the sixth with a stand-up triple and was brought home on a Bryce Willits RBI groundout to make it 8-4.
UCSD scored two more in the top of the eighth, but the damage was limited as Matt Ager stranded two Tritons aboard.
Insurance runs came in the bottom half, as Sprinkle drew a lead-off walk and reached third on a hit-and-run paired with a Klassen single. Willits was next, ripping a double down the right field line to score both runners and extend the Gaucho lead to 10-6.
The Gauchos will look for their fifth straight win and fifth straight series win tomorrow night, as they host UCSD in game two at 5:30 PM.
Daniel Moebus-Bowles writes about sports for UCSB.