DAVIS, Calif. - Following two days of blowing early leads, the UC Santa Barbara baseball team managed to hold onto to its early advantage and go home to Santa Barbara with at least one victory in this three-game series, defeating UC Davis 5-1.
Three Gauchos (18-17-1 overall, 4-5 Big West) were able to tally multiple hits on the day, something only three hitters were able to do in the last two games. Combine the hitting with a great outing from senior Stevie Ledesma and relief effort from sophomore Shea Barry and one could surmise why it was a tough day for the Aggies (12-22 overall, 5-7 Big West).
UCSB got off to a fast start early tallying two runs on the board in the top half of the first frame. The first two batters in the Gaucho lineup, freshman infielder Andrew Martinez, and sophomore center fielder Tommy Jew, both hit singles to get on base and were advanced to scoring position off a bunt.
Junior Thomas Rowan then brought in the two runners with a bases-clearing double down the right-field line. Rowan, who followed up a three-hit performance yesterday, finished the evening with two knocks and the two RBI's. UC Davis would counter in the bottom half of the inning getting back a run thanks to a fielder's choice RBI from Ryan Hooper.
UCSB then got the lead back to a two-run lead thanks to a home run from sophomore Armani Smith. It was the California natives' fourth dinger of the year, a new career high.
In the sixth, Smith continued his solid day at the plate bringing in a runner with a base knock to right center. He would finish the day 2-4 with two RBI's, a much-needed performance from him considering he came into the game batting below .200.
The Gauchos would add one more run in the sixth to take a commanding 5-1 lead and never looked back.
Despite getting two hits and one run in the first, the Aggies would struggle mightily the rest of the evening mustering only four additional hits.
Ledesma earned the win for the Gauchos and improved to 4-2 on the year, allowing one run on six hits, walking three, and striking out four over 7.2 innings of work including throwing a shutout in the final 6.2 innings of his appearance.
This was a much needed bounce-back performance from the Ventura, California native who allowed seven runs, four of them earned, in last weeks outing.
Barry would cap off the game throwing the final 1.1 innings allowing no hits, walking two and throwing a strikeout.
For the Gauchos, it was nice to get a win on the final day of the series but they know they need to be winning these series more often than not. Luckily for them, they come back home to face UCR next week, the team it is currently tied for fifth with in the Big West standings.
Overal, there were some solid performances from players both on the mound and on the plate but with the middle of the conference slate coming up there will be no more room for error.
UCSB takes on UC Riverside for game one of a three-set conference series at 3 p.m. on Friday, April 27th at Caesar Uyesaka Stadium.