Fueled by a star-studded performance on the mound by Zach Torra, the UCSB baseball team won its fifth straight game on Saturday, defeating Abilene Christian, 6-1 at Caesar Uyesaka Stadium.
Torra earned his first Division 1 victory by striking out 13 in six innings of work. Previously, the junior left-hander pitched for Cuesta Community College and shined on the mound at Santa Ynez High. Saturday’s performance followed his first start of the season at Sacramento State on Feb. 15, where Torra pitched six shutout innings in earning a no-decision. The Gauchos eventually won that game, 1-0, in 11 innings.
“(Torra) was outstanding,” UCSB coach Andrew Checketts said following his team’s latest win. “He had a good fastball going in the (strike) zone and he was landing his breaking ball when he needed it. “He really did a nice job moving (the ball) around and creating some swings and misses.”
Torra allowed one run on only two hits in his six innings of work.
Offensively, the Gauchos received another solid performance from Marcos Castanon. The junior second baseman walloped his third home run of the season, and second in as many games against Abilene Christian. Castanon finished 2-for-4 with two runs batted in.
“Marcos is a real middle-of-the-order hitter, and he has turned into that for us,” Checketts said. “He has become such a mature hitter, and I think he is being rewarded for that.”
Sophomore designated hitter Christian Kirtley and junior catcher Gianni Bloom also had big days at the plate for the Gauchos, as the pair finished 2-for-4. Kirtley also scored two runs and Bloom had a run batted in.
UCSB got the scoring going in the first inning when Castanon singled through the right side to score McClain O’Connor to make it 1-0. The Gauchos made it 2-0 in the second when Nicolas Vogt hit a sacrifice fly that scored Jason Willow from third.
After the Wildcats got their only run of the game in the top of the third, UCSB scored single runs in the fourth and fifth innings, and two in the eighth.
Third baseman Cole Cummings contributed at the plate, as well, for the Gauchos with an infield single that scored a run in the fifth.
“Good pitching, solid defense and timely hitting, that’s the recipe for good baseball,” Checketts said.
The three-game series concludes today with a game at noon. Sophomore right-hander Michael McGreevy is scheduled to start for UCSB.