HONOLULU, Hawaii – Ben Brecht struck out seven in six innings of one-run ball to pick up his 10th win of the year and Andrew Martinez hit a three-run home run to put the game away in the ninth inning as the No. 6 UC Santa Barbara baseball team topped the Hawaii Rainbow Warriors 8-2 for their 11th straight win on Friday night at Les Murakami Stadium.
Santa Barbara improves to 42-7 overall with the win, and 16-3 in Big West play, maintaining a two-game lead over Cal Poly to inch closer to its first conference title since 1986, with five games remaining.
After the Gauchos stranded a bases loaded, nobody out opportunity in the top of the second, Hawaii nearly mirrored their inning in the bottom half, but brought a run across on a double play ball with the bases loaded and one out to take a 1-0 lead.
Two straight walks and an RBI single by Thomas Rowan gave UCSB the response it needed in the third to tie the game 1-1.
A clutch, two-out, two-RBI double off the bat of recently named Buster Posey National Catcher of the Year semifinalist Eric Yang, made it a 4-1 ball game in the fourth after Tevin Mitchell cashed in a sac fly earlier in the inning.
Four innings of scoreless baseball ensued before Rowan knocked in another run on a double in the ninth, and Martinez put the game away for good with a three-run blast to make it 8-1.
Brecht (10-1) scattered four hits while allowing just one run with seven strikeouts on the evening and Trevor Beer (0.1 IP), Michael McGreevy (1.2 IP) and Alex Patterson (1.0 IP) saw action in relief.
Yang finished 2-for-3 with two RBIs and two walks, Martinez was 2-for-4 with three RBIs and Rowan finished 2-for-5 with a pair of RBIs to lead the UCSB offense.
The Gauchos tagged Hawaii starter Cade Smith (2-1) with his first loss of the year after putting up four runs in his four innings on six hits and took advantage of four walks.
UCSB will look to clinch the series win at tomorrow night, May 18, at 9:35 p.m. PT.