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Tuesday, March 26 , 2019, 12:45 pm | Partly Cloudy 62º

Sports: A Noozhawk Partnership with Santa Barbara Athletic Round Table, The Lab, and American Riviera Bank

UCSB Ousts No. 3 Miami for First-Ever Victory at College World Series

Gauchos survive hour-long rain delay and elimination with clutch hitting during four-run sixth inning

Despite an hour-long rain delay at the College World Series, UC Santa Barbara never lost hope that its magical season would continue.

After the rainfall finally ceased, the Gauchos got right back to business at Omaha’s TD Ameritrade Park with four runs in the sixth inning to stave off elimination with a 5-3 victory over No. 3 Miami.

Ryan Cumberland hit a pinch-hit two-run single in the fourth inning to give UCSB and 3-1 lead. Click to view larger
Ryan Cumberland hit a pinch-hit two-run single in the fourth inning to give UCSB and 3-1 lead. (Andrew Macfadyen photo)

“It was a good battle and our guys did a really good job of competing,” UCSB coach Andrew Checketts said. “During that rain delay, we stayed focused and were able to land some monumental blows afterwards.”

With game tied at 1-1, pinch hitter Ryan Cumberland stepped up with the bases loaded and delivered a clutch two-run single to give the Gauchos their first lead of the game.

“I saw something in the zone that I could hit and just happened to find a hole,” assessed Cumberland. “That was something special and I obviously don’t get that opportunity without the guys in front of me.”

UCSB increased its advantage when Billy Fredrick reached on a throwing error, which allowed Dempsey Grover to score. The Gauchos took a commanding 5-1 lead when Cumberland reached home after a RBI groundout from Ryan Clark.

From that point on, the Gauchos (43-19-1) never looked back during their first-ever win at the College World Series against a storied Miami program that was amongst the favorites to win the national title

“Santa Barbara played really well today with good defense and got bunts to fall when they needed them,” commented Miami coach Jim Morris.

The Gauchos were led at the plate by JJ Muno, who went 2 for 4 with an RBI and a run scored.  Devon Gradford, also went 2-4 with a run scored. 

Noah Davis (7-4) picked up the win with an impressive performance on the mound. The freshman right-hander surrendered just one run on two hits and struck out three in six innings of work.

“I came out knowing that Miami had a good offense and that it was going to be really important to keep the ball down,” Davis noted. “Today, the ability to cross count with off-speed pitches was essential for me.” 

In the top of the first, Zack Collins drove a Davis fastball over the right field stands to give the Hurricanes a 1-0 advantage.

UCSB promptly responded with a Clay Fisher single and Austin Bush walk. Muno instantly took advantage, smacking a RBI single to right field that allowed Fisher to score and tie the score at 1-1. 

After a Gauchos lead-off single in the bottom of the sixth, the teams were pulled off the field for a rain and potential lightning delay. The interruption lasted 62 minutes and was enough to shake the momentum out of Miami starter Danny Garcia.

“We were trying to stay focused in the clubhouse and I was able to get a couple of hacks in the cage, which helped me stay loose,” Muno said. “I could tell that we needed something to go our way and I was fortunate enough to get that two strike knock.”

In the eighth, the Hurricanes responded with back-to-back RBI singles to trim the deficit to 5-3. With only one out recorded and a runner in scoring position, UCSB reliever Kyle Nelson was able to calm the storm and end Miami’s threat with two successive outs.  

During the top of the ninth, the Hurricanes got a runner on with one out. Nevertheless, Nelson was able to get Miami pinch-hitter Peter Crocito to ground into a game-ending double play. 

“It’s been a very special ride with this group of young men who all have each other’s back and our playing for one another other,” Muno added. “It’s an awesome feeling to have that camaraderie pay off and come out with a victory.”

UCSB returns to action at the CWS on Wednesday in another elimination game against the loser of the Oklahoma State-Arizona game. The game is scheduled for 4 p.m. (PDT).

—Video courtesy of the NCAA

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