UCSB baseball’s quest to stay in the postseason picture was kept alive Monday night, thanks to a walk-off single by shortstop Corey Nunez. 

UCSB took down Cal Baptist, 7-6, in a non-conference 10-inning thriller.

It’s an important win headed into the final two conference series of the year. UCSB is 33-16 on the season and 16-8 in the Big West, one game behind first-place Cal State Fullerton. Cal Baptist (28-25, 15-12) is battling for a top-five seed in the WAC Tournament.

“They’re all big at this point, and we’re playing for our postseason lives,” said UCSB coach Andrew Checketts of Monday’s win. “They’re all going to matter in terms of the body of work we’re trying to put together.”

The Gauchos fell behind early in the game, with Tyler Bremner giving up a three-run home run in the second inning. 

Outside of the homer, Bremner was electric on the day, striking out seven CBU batters in six innings of work. 

“He makes the one mistake on that pitch, but he was really good besides that. I think he was he was better than what the stats show,” said Checketts

The bats got going for the Gauchos in the fourth inning behind an Ivan Brethowr RBI double down the left-field line and a LaTrey McCollum RBI single.

Jared Sundstrom kept the momentum rolling into the fifth inning with a grand slam to extend the Gauchos’ lead to 6-3. 

“He was a JC guy,” said Checketts of Sundstrom, who attended Santa Rosa Community College. “No one recruited him out of high school, and he’s proved himself, developing himself into a player. “We’ve had a lot of luck with those guys who are coming in hungry and hard workers.”

Sundstrom tallied his team-leading 15th homer and raised his OPS above 1.100, also a team high. 

“He’s got a tremendous work ethic and is a really good teammate,” said Checketts of the junior. “We might only get him for one year. He’s having such a good year with the (MLB) draft coming up.”

CBU was able to grind out another run against Bremner in the sixth inning. The Lancers then jumped on reliever Carter Benbrook with a game-tying homer in the eighth inning to knot the score at 6-6. 

Sam Whiting came in relief and shut the door on Cal Baptist. He went 2.2 innings, picking up 5 strikeouts with his electric fastball. 

“Sam just shut them down there,” said Checketts. “He gave us a chance to go back out there and get a run on the board. It was a good battle by the guys.”

In the 10th inning, the Gauchos had runners on second and third with two outs. Nunez came up and singled to center field, scoring John Newman for the game winner and keeping UCSB in the NCAA postseason conversation.

“Having an RPI and a resume allows us to get an at-large bid,” said Checketts. “(Winning this game is) big from that standpoint.

“Hopefully, this game gives us momentum rolling into the weekend and we can get going a little bit and make a run at that conference championship.”

The Gauchos host Cal Poly for a three-game Big West series starting Friday.

Garret Harcourt, Noozhawk CorrespondentSports intern

Intern from UCSB