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Gauchos make it 11 straight wins as they stay undefeated in Big West

UCSB CSUN BASEBALL.00_00_30_02.Still001
UCSB runs win streak to 11 after beating Cal State Northridge 4-1.

UC SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - The UC Santa Barbara Baseball team (16-3, 4-0 Big West) continued their perfect start to conference play and extended their winning streak to 11, defeating CSUN (12-5, 2-2 Big West) in Friday night's series opener, 4-1. Nick Welch picked up his first win of the season out of the bullpen, and Hudson Barrett earned the save after working his longest shift on the mound.

Mike Gutierrez got the start for the Gauchos, going four innings in a strangely two-faced outing. The lefty struck out the first Matador he faced but walked the next one and was called for a balk trying to pick him off at first. But then he picked the runner off at second, only to walk the next batter before getting out of the inning with the second of his six strikeouts on the day. Gutierrez took 20 pitches to get through the top of the second and 17 to get through the third, but kept CSUN off the board until the fourth. The Matadors jumped all over UCSB's lefty in the fourth, hitting a home run on the first pitch of the inning, and picking up a one-out, first-pitch single later on. Gutierrez limited the damage to just the one run, but that was his last inning of the day.

But by stranding that one-out single, Gutierrez had kept the Gauchos in the lead. After that 20-pitch top of the second, Jonah Sebring led off the bottom of the inning by reaching on an error and immediately stealing second. LeTrey McCollum singled up the middle to drive home Sebring, then got himself into scoring position on a passed ball. Nick Oakley snuck a single through the right side, and it was 2-0 UCSB.

Welch took over in relief of Gutierrez to start the fifth, getting into and out of some two-out trouble but keeping CSUN off the board. The Gauchos almost added to their lead in the bottom of the inning, but left the bases loaded. After Welch started the sixth by hitting a batter and issuing a walk, Barrett stepped in and, despite hitting a batter himself, got out of the inning. The freshman worked a perfect top of the seventh and got an extra run of support in the bottom half, as an Oakley double, Corey Nunez sacrifice bunt, and Ivan Brethowr infield single made it 3-1. In his third inning on the night, Barrett worked around another two-out, two-on situation with another strikeout.

UCSB stretched their lead again in the bottom of the eighth, with Christian Kirtley drawing a lead-off walk, and singles by Sebring and McCollum driving pinch-runner John Newman, Jr. home. McCollum's single was a masterclass in bunting, forcing the Matador third baseman to rush his throw to first, and Newman scampered home when that throw went wild.

Barrett, whose longest outing before Friday had been three innings, came back out to work the ninth inning and walked the lead-off batter, but the freshman rebounded by striking out the side to earn his Big West leading fourth save this season.

The Gauchos and Matadors play the second game of their three-game series tomorrow, Saturday, March 25. First pitch from Caesar Uyesaka Stadium is set for 4:05 p.m. This weekend, UCSB is offering a Spring Break Special — students of all ages will receive free admission to every game in this series.

(Article courtesy of UCSB)

Article Topic Follows: College Sports

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Mike Klan

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