Gauchos Hand No. 1 UCLA First Loss of the Season, 8-5

Christian Kirtley (Photo by Tony Mastres)
Christian Kirtley (Photo by Tony Mastres)

SANTA BARBARA, Calif.— The No. 30 Gauchos handed No. 1 UCLA its first loss of the season Tuesday night defeating the Bruins 8-5 at Caesar Uyesaka Stadium. UCSB has now posted five straight wins, matching its largest streak of the early season, and continues to have the Bruins' number collecting four wins and a tie in the two teams' last five meetings. This was the first time this season that UCLA allowed an opponent more than two runs in a game.

UCSB saw another great outing at the plate posting eight or more runs for the third straight game. Sophomore left fielder Christian Kirtley led the way going 3-for-4 with a double, a run, and an RBI  extending his hitting streak to 10 games, and sophomore catcher Mason Eng followed going 2-for-3 with a walk, two runs and an RBI.

Defensively, junior Connor Roberts came off the bench to collect his third win of the season tossing for scoreless innings from the fifth to the eighth, and giving his offense an opportunity to regain the lead. He is now 3-1 on the season and has been nearly perfect in each outing. Freshman JD Callahan earned another midweek start tossing four innings and allowing two earned.

Junior second baseman Marcos Castanon opened the scoring for the Gauchos in the very first inning, driving in a run on a groundout to take a 1-0 lead, but the scoring would go back and forth through the middle innings.

UCLA tied it at 1-1 in the third and less than three outs later, UCSB was back on top thanks to an RBI double from Kirtley. Three more would come across for the Bruins over the next two innings giving the visitors their first and only lead of the game at 4-2.

Trailing by two, the Gauchos erupted in the fifth inning posting four runs on the board to regain the lead. Cole Cummings and Kyle Johnson each drew bases-loaded walks to tie it and sophomore Mason Marquez made the most of his DH opportunity putting his team in front 6-4 with one swing of the bat on a 2-RBI single to left.

Eng capped off the Gauchos' scoring with a pair of insurance runs in the eighth inning, driving in Steele Ledford on an RBI single before Johnson found home on a Bruin error. UCLA made a valiant ninth-inning effort scoring a run and bringing the tying run to the plate but senior Connor Dand managed to close out the game.

The Gauchos will look to keep their hot streak going this weekend when the team visits No. 25 Oregon State in Corvallis, Ore. for a three-game series.