SANTA BARBARA, Calif. – The UC Santa Barbara baseball team pounded out a season-high 15 runs in a Wednesday afternoon rout of Dartmouth, setting a number of Checketts-era offensive records in the 15-5 victory at Caesar Uyesaka Stadium.
Most notably the Gauchos (5-9-1) crushed eight extra-base hits, including four home runs which equaled the team's output for roundtrippers so far in 2018. Headlining the power display was sophomore center fielder Tommy Jew, who went 3-4 with four RBIs while finishing a double short of the cycle. His first-pitch grand slam in the sixth inning was the turning point of the game, morphing a close 5-4 game into a comfortable 9-4 lead and kicking off the first of three back-to-back-to-back home runs for UCSB, a first in the Checketts era and believed to be the first for the program since at least the 1992 season.
"The approaches at the plate were a lot better today," said UCSB head coach Andrew Checketts. "We've been working as a staff and as a program to adjust the mentality we have in the box. We've got a lot of conscientious kids who've been struggling and taking at-bats with them, so we've been trying to free them up to be fearless in the box and go after it. Today was a good start from that standpoint."
Though the game ended up being a blowout, the visiting Big Green (2-5) had the edge early, leading 4-1 after the top of the fourth inning.
The Gauchos cut into that deficit with an RBI triple from Clay Fisher in the bottom of the fourth, then Jew clubbed a three-bagger of his own the very next inning – giving UCSB its first three-triple day since 2013 – and came around moments later on a passed ball.
UCSB went to put the game away with a seven-run sixth, the team's biggest offensive inning so far this year. It started off with four straight singles off Dartmouth left-hander Michael Parsons, who came on in relief of starter Austin Michel to open the fifth. Parsons made his biggest mistake of the day against Jew, leaving an elevated fastball over the plate resulting in a 420-foot bomb off the parking services building behind the left field fence. Junior left fielder Sam Cohen and sophomore first baseman Armani Smith followed up with impressive solo shots of their own, their first and second roundtrippers of the year, respectively, to cap off the inning.
Smith made the Big Green pay the next inning as well, following up four consecutive walks from Dartmouth pitchers with a double down the third base-line for his second and third RBIs of the day. Sophomore catcher Eric Yang closed the day's scoring the very next at-bat with a warning track sac fly.
Dartmouth was no offensive slouch, collecting 13 hits as a team. However, 11 of those were singles and the Big Green had just three hits in 14 at-bats with runners in scoring position, compared to five hits in 11 at-bats for UCSB (.455 average). Second baseman Sean Sullivan was their top offensive performer, going 3-5.
On the mound, junior right-hander Kevin Chandler had a nice bounce-back outing to earn his first win of the year while sophomore right-hander Shea Barry and freshman left-hander Joshua Candau each got four outs without allowing a run.
Chandler, who hadn't appeared since Opening Day, entered with a runner on and nobody in fifth and immediately took control of the game – Dartmouth had scored in three of the first four innings – by rolling up a double-play ball and then freezing Nate Ostmo with a front-door breaking ball for an inning-ending strikeout. The Valencia, Calif. native produced a 1-2-3 sixth before the Gauchos took the lead for good in the bottom half of the frame.
Barry and Candau, in his collegiate debut, combined to get the final eight outs of the game. Barry went without allowing a hit while Candau, a Walnut Creek native, gave up just a flair single with two outs in the ninth.
UCSB continues its six-weekend homestand with a three-game series against Sacramento State starting on Friday at 3:00 p.m.