UCSB collected its fifth straight win Saturday night behind stellar pitching performance from starter Zach Torra who collected 13 strikeouts in six innings of work in a 6-1 win over Abilene Christian at Caesar Uyesaka Stadium.
Torra (2-0) allowed just two hits and a run. His 13-K performance fell just three short of the UCSB record.
A medley of Gaucho pitchers followed him on the night and collectively got the final nine outs and only allowed two more hits.
“He was outstanding,” head coach Andrew Cheketts said of Torra, a former Santa Ynez High star. “He had a good fastball going in the zone and he was landing his breaking ball when he needed it. He really did a nice job moving it around and creating some swings.”
Senior shortstop McClain O’Connor was another huge factor for the Gaucho defense, making countless big plays on grounders hit his way to help keep Wildcats off the bases.
Santa Barbara had another sound offensive outing as well, winning the hit battle 11-4. Junior second baseman Marcos Castanon had yet another solid game, going 2-for-4 with two RBI and a home run.
“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.”
O’Connor got it going for the Gauchos leading off the bottom of the first with single on a full count and quickly found himself on second base after a wild pitch. Castanon then stepped to the plate and continued his incredible week roping an RBI single to put his team up 1-0.
Another run came in the very next inning, with junior Jason Willow breaking out for a double and then stealing third. He would cross the plate on a well struck sac fly by freshman Nick Vogt to give UCSB the 2-0 advantage.
The sole run for ACU came in the third, but UCSB answered quickly in the next inning on heads-up base running to make it 3-1.
Up 4-1 in the eighth inning, Castanon struck a no-doubter over the left field wall, his third of the season. Junior catcher Gianni Bloom capped off the Gaucho scoring efforts with an RBI single.
“Good pitching, solid defense, and timely hitting. That’s the recipe for good baseball,” said Checketts.
The final game of the series with ACU is set for Sunday at noon.