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Gauchos capture Big West title as they stay undefeated at home

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Gauchos win Big West title in baseball.

UC SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - The Gauchos are the best in the Big West!

"It feels amazing, amazing, amazing," stated catcher Aaron Parker.

He had one of five home runs smashed by UCSB as they powered past UC Riverside 12-3 and celebrated their second Big West Conference championship in the past three years and fifth overall.

The Gauchos are 23-0 at home and 40-12 overall as they earn an automatic bid into next week's NCAA Regional.

UCSB is ranked #13 in the nation with two home games remaining in the regular season.

They will find out Sunday evening if they are selected to be one of the 16 host sites for the regionals.

Parker cracked his 11th home run of the year, a second inning solo blast to get the party started but the last place Highlanders did not roll over.

They took advantage of two Gauchos errors in the top of the fourth inning to grab a 3-1 lead.

But UCSB starter Ryan Gallagher did not allow anything else as he worked seven solid innings giving up just two earned runs as he improved to 9-1 on the season.

After tying the game in the bottom of the fifth on a passed ball and a sacrifice fly off the bat of Zander Darby, the Gauchos took total control behind a three-homer sixth inning.

Jonah Sebring led off the inning with a solo shot to left to give the Gauchos a 4-3 lead.

Arroyo Grande High School graduate Justin Trimble ripped his 11th home run of the year, a 2-run laser sending the ball into the temporary bleachers beyond the right-field fence. The extra seats are needed for UCSB to bolster their effort to host an NCAA Regional.

Still in the sixth, Ivan Brethowr launched his team-leading 13th home run on the season.

The two-run tater to left put UCSB up 8-3.

"We're a bunch of absolute fighters," beamed Brethowr. "I couldn't be more happier to be part of it."

Santa Barbara High School alum and the Gauchos lone senior this year Nick Oakley belted a 3-run homer in the 8th to turn this game into a laugher.

"We are clicking and it's a tough group for sure," said Oakley.

Cole Tryba pitched the final two innings in relief striking out five batters.

The final out was a grounder to Oakley who threw to Darby at first and the celebration started.

After the dogpile, Oakley was lifted up into the air and then head coach Andrew Checketts brought over the Big West Championship trophy that was passed around and kissed by some of the players.

Checketts was visibly emotional during the celebration, thinking of his dad Gordon Checketts who passed away earlier this year at the stadium during a game.

"I am really excited and proud of the guys," began Checketts. "But it would be hard not to be emotional with my biggest fan not being here."

The series continues on Friday at 4:35 p.m. and Saturday at 1:05 p.m.

Oakley said the team is not about to take the foot off the gas.

"We have more to play for this weekend for sure."

Article Topic Follows: College Sports

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Mike Klan

Mike Klan is the sports director for News Channel 3-12. To learn more about Mike, click here.


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