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UCSB Takes Series Opener Over UCR 7-3

Carter Benbrook (Photo by Jeff Liang)
Carter Benbrook (Photo by Jeff Liang)

RIVERSIDE, Calif.— UC Santa Barbara baseball kicked off its weekend series at The Plex with a 7-3 win over host UC Riverside. The bats got going early and the pitching duo of Michael McGreevy and Carter Benbrook dominated the defensive end as the Gauchos took game one over the Highlanders. 

With the win, UCSB improves to 32-18 overall with a 22-11 record while UCR falls to 14-30 and 12-25.

McGreevy (8-1) picked up his eighth win of the season Friday night tossing 6.1 innings of three-run ball. He walked two, struck out four, and threw three zeros up on the board to start the evening. Benbrook entered in the seventh and picked up his team-best fourth save of the season allowing just a hit and walk to close out the final 2.2 innings. 

The Gauchos out-hit the Highlanders 13-10 with nine different players accounting for UCSB's offensive efforts. Christian Kirtley and Jason Willow each had multi-hit games with Cole Cummings leading the way going 3-for-5.

The Gauchos got on the board in the first inning of the weekend with Kirtley collecting a two-out RBI double to score Zach Rodriguez and give UCSB the early lead. Mason Eng made it 2-0 in the top of the second singling up the middle to score Willow, who doubled and stole third with two outs. 

In the top of the third Cummings led off with a single and came around to score on a Highlander error to make it 3-0. McClain O'Connor brought Kirtley in with a two-out triple to give UCSB the early 4-0 lead. 

The Highlanders picked up an RBI single and a sac-fly in the bottom of the fourth to cut the Gaucho lead in half 4-2, but UCSB notched its biggest inning of the night just a few outs later putting a three-spot in the top of the fifth.

It was Kirtley once again making his presence felt notching an RBI double to right center to score Rodriguez from first base. In the very next at-bat Broc Mortensen stepped to the plate and tied the conference lead with his 11th home run of the year to put his team up 7-2.

UCR found the final run of the evening in the bottom half of the inning, cutting the lead to 7-3. The tying run was on deck in the bottom of the seventh when Benbrook entered, but the freshman retired the next two batters in a row to end the inning.

UCSB will look for the series win in tomorrow's doubleheader as Rodney Boone and Corhy Lewis take the mound.