Rodney Boone was fabulous and Nicolas Vogt was timely.
It was a combination that gave the UCSB baseball team a 3-2, 10-inning win over visiting Illinois-Chicago on Friday night at Caesar Uyesaka Stadium.
Boone tossed 7.1 innings, during which he allowed two runs on three hits with 12 strikeouts and one walk. Vogt, who came on as a pinch-hitter in the eighth, singled home the game-winning run in the 10th.
“I was just trying to stay calm and hit something hard,” Vogt said. “I tried not to make it too complicated. I just tried to stay simple, which I was able to do.”
Vogt, a freshman from Woodland, was disappointed he didn’t start, like he had done four other times this season. He didn’t get down on himself, however, and answered the call for the Gauchos when it mattered most.
“He had a nice at-bat there,” UCSB coach Andrew Checketts said. “He’s going to be a good player for us, he’s going to be a star. He’s athletic, but the game moves a little fast for him at times because he’s young, but he’s going to be a really good player for us. I’m happy for him and I’m happy for me,” Checketts concluded with a chuckle.
As for Boone, he made very few mistakes in a 112-pitch performance.
He allowed a run in the fourth inning on a wild pitch and another in the eighth on a home run by Joshua Figueroa. The latter cost Boone a chance to win his second consecutive start after a solid outing last weekend against Abilene Christian.
“He’s progressively gotten better and better and better (this season),” Checketts said. “After the kind of stinker he had the first weekend at Sac State, he’s been really good. His last outing was better and this one was even better than his last. He’s making progress and going in the right direction.”
UCSB (7-2), which lost its top six batters from last season’s NCAA Regional team, struggled to get any offense going against UIC starter Jacob Key.
The senior right-hander kept the Gauchos off-balance with a mid-80s fastball and a good changeup that had some movement away from right-handed hitters and into lefties. UCSB managed just two runs, one earned, against Key, who allowed four hits with four strikeouts and two walks in 6.2 innings.
Checketts was impressed with how Key kept his team at bay, for the most part.
“He was good,” Checketts said. “He was crafty, kind of a wiffle-ball guy with a sinker and slider. He had a lot of horizontal break on that slider that he was throwing off the end of our bats.
“He did a nice job. He’s been a big winner for them over the years. He was good.”
Boone allowed a lead-off double to Thomas Norton in the fourth and proceeded to uncork two wild pitches that allowed the Flames to score the first run of the game. Outside of that and the eighth inning home run ro Figueroa, Boone was simply dominant.
He struck out the side in the third and fifth innings, and retired the side in order in five of his 7.1 innings.
“He threw the ball really well in the fall, he threw the ball really well in January and early February, and then he got the flu, which really set him back.
“His velocity dipped and he wasn’t ready when he went out at Sac State. He wasn’t very sharp, but he’s gotten better.”
Former SBCC standout Connor Roberts earned the win with 2.2 stellar innings in relief of Boone.
Roberts allowed no runs on two hits with four strikeouts and no walks while facing 10 batters. He lowered his earned run average to 2.77 in what was a nice bounce-back effort after he suffered the loss in last Sunday’s game to Abilene Christian.
“He was one of our best pitchers in the fall … he was lights out Sac State, he was lights out last Friday against Abilene Christian,” Checketts said. “I think he was maybe a little fatigued and running on fumes (last Sunday). It caught up to him a little bit. He bounced back this week and was a little sharper. He’s very good.”
The three-game series continues today at Caesar Uyesaka Stadium at 4 p.m.