SANTA BARBARA, Calif.‑ No. 20 UC Santa Barbara brought out the brooms Sunday afternoon completing the three-game sweep of the University of San Francisco with a 6-2 win in the final game. The Gauchos are now back on track with a 9-5 record heading into conference play next weekend.
UCSB, led by starting pitcher Rodney Boone, hung eight straight zeros on the board, only allowing the Dons to collect a pair of runs with their backs against the wall in the ninth. USF was limited to just three hits. Behind Boone was a strong Gaucho defense that made clutch, highlight plays in both the infield and the outfield.
Boone earned his fourth start of the young season and went seven shutout innings allowing just one hit. He walked four batters and struck three out in his third win of the season. He was followed by Hayden Hattenbach, who went unscathed, and Ryan Harvey who got the final five outs.
Offensively, it was another solid outing for shortstop Jordan Sprinkle, who has taken over as the current starter for the Gauchos. He led off the game with a single followed by a stolen base and did the exact same thing again in the bottom of the third ending the day with a pair of hits, a pair of steals, and a run. He has now collected a hit in five straight games.
Marcos Castanon earned some well-deserved respect at the plate, drawing back-to-back walks to start the contest. He would finish going 1-for-2 with three walks and a run, while also extending his hitting streak to five games.
The Gauchos broke the scoreless tie in the third when Sprinkle was driven in by Zach Rodriguez, who continued his strong weekend with a two-out RBI single to give his team the lead.
The game would go quiet as the home team held a 1-0 lead until insurance runs came in the bottom of the seventh.
With the bases-loaded and nobody out, Broc Mortensen proved he could find runs even without the long ball drilling a single up the middle that scored two. Christian Kirtley was the next batter collecting a sac-fly to left to extend the lead to 4-0. Up next was Bryce Willits who notched an RBI single to right-center to make it 5-0.
The final run for the Gauchos came in the next inning, where they would capitalize on a Don error to score one more and take a 6-0 lead into the final half inning.
USF sent out a medley of pinch-hitters in the ninth, two of which were able to get their team on the board with solo home runs before seeing the game end 6-2 in favor of UCSB.
The Gauchos will now open up Big West play and take their first true road trip of the season next weekend, with a four-game series vs. Cal State Fullerton. Game one is scheduled for Friday, March 19 at 5:00 PM.