Boone Fans Nine as No. 8 UCSB Takes the Series Over Santa Clara

Rodney Boone
Rodney Boone

SANTA BARBARA, Calif.— Sunday's rubber match at Caesar Uyesaka Stadium went to No. 8 UC Santa Barbara as the Gauchos held off visiting Santa Clara 5-4. Sophomore pitcher Rodney Boone was spectacular in his first start of the season picking up his first win and helping UCSB claim the series 2-1.

Boone took the mound and did not disappoint tossing five shutout innings. He allowed just two hits while striking out nine, and struck out the side in the fifth, his final inning.

The defense behind Boone played a role in his success as well making big plays for its starter. McClain O'Connor and Marcos Castanon turned a first-inning double play and Cole Cummings made a highlight play at third, diving and firing to first to hold off a leadoff baserunner in the third. Steele Ledford had a big play of his own just a few batters later chasing down a big fly ball in center.

The Gaucho bats got going in the bottom of the first with O'Connor continuing his early hot streak and reaching base on a walk, before stealing second on the very next pitch. His partner in the middle infield, Castanon, gave UCSB a 1-0 lead knocking him in on an RBI single.

In the third O'Connor struck again in a big way becoming the first Gaucho to homer this season with a bomb to the deepest part of the park making it 2-0. The senior shortstop finished the weekend going 4-for-9 with four runs, seven RBI, and a stolen base. Each of his four hits went for extra bases notching two doubles, a triple, and today's homer to give him a 1.222 slugging percentage in the early season. He is also currently hitting .444 with a .462 on-base percentage.

Castanon had a strong first series as well hitting .500 with four walks for an on-base percentage of .643. He added an RBI and a steal.

Bryce Willits closed out the third with an RBI groundout to give his team a 3-0 lead. The Gauchos would add one more in the fourth on a pinch-hit RBI single from Jordan Sprinkle and their final run in the fifth off of another RBI from Willits, who reached on a fielder's choice.

The story of the game was that of runs with the Gauchos scoring five straight, spread out across the first five innings. Down 5-0, Santa Clara did all of its damage in the top of the sixth putting up four runs to cut the lead to one.

JD Callahan was responsible for the Broncos' four runs but settled down in seventh putting a zero on the board. Conner Roberts followed in the eighth facing the minimum batters and in the ninth came Christopher Troye making his first appearance since suffering an injury in 2019. The Gaucho closer didn't miss a step striking out the side to win the game and earn the save in what was his first time on the bump in 632 days. It was his first career save.

UC Santa Barbara will have its first road game of the season this Friday at Pepperdine in game one of a four-game home-and-home series with the Waves.