A two-run home run off the bat of Marcos Castanon highlighted a six-run first inning to propel the No. 7 UC Santa Barbara baseball team to an 8-4 win and series sweep over Long Beach State on Mother’s Day afternoon at Caesar Uyesaka Stadium.
It’s the ninth win in a row for the Gauchos (40-7, 15-3 Big West), who notched their 40th victory of the year, marking the eighth time in program history a UCSB team has reached 40 wins. Three of those 40-win seasons have been under head coach Andrew Checketts.
After a 13-1 rout on Saturday, the Gauchos picked up where they left off with six runs on seven hits in the first inning.
After leadoff hitter McClain O’Connor singled and promptly stole second to start the game, Eric Yang drove him home for the first run with a sharply hit single to left. Thomas Rowan followed with another single to left, bringing home Yang, and Andrew Martinez kept the merry-go-round alive with another single to drive home Armani Smith, who singled earlier in the inning. After a Tommy Jew sac fly deep to the warning track in right, Castanon crushed a no-doubter over the left center field fence to put the Gauchos ahead 6-0.
Rodney Boone (7-0) was sharp early, holding the Dirtbags scoreless until the fifth when Aidan Malm got a hold of one for a three-run blast to cut the UCSB lead in half, 6-3.
Boone finished with eight strikeouts on the day and gave up just three runs on three hits while walking five in five innings.
Shea Barry was extremely effective in his 2.2 scoreless innings of relief, not allowing a hit while striking out five.
While Barry was mowing down the Dirtbags, Santa Barbara tacked on another in the sixth on an RBI double from Cole Mueller, and one more for good measure on an RBI double from Martinez in the seventh.
Michael McGreevy came on for one out in the eighth and Chris Lincoln closed it out, after allowing a harmless run, to clinch the sweep.
Smith went 3-for-4 with a pair of runs to lead the Gauchos at the plate while Rowan (2-4), Martinez (2-for-3) and Mueller (2-for-3) all added multi-hit games.
UCSB will play its final midweek, non-conference game this Tuesday, May 14 against Pepperdine at 3:00 p.m. at Caesar Uyesaka Stadium.