UCI 2, UCSB 0
With sophomore Andrew Thurman on the mound in the first game of the series, the ’Eaters decorated their faces with black, thick-rimmed glasses..
“If you love ‘Thurmanator,’ put your specks on!” cheered Superfan on Friday evening as the ’Eaters faced the UC Santa Barbara Gauchos at Cicerone Field.
The glasses, or Thurman specks, are in honor of the “Thurmanator” who sports similar frames when he’s not pitching. In a 2-0 win over the Gauchos on May 4, Friday night, Thurman pitched nine scoreless innings for a complete-game shutout.
Earning his sixth win to improve to a 6-2 record, Thurman lowered his ERA from 2.96 to 2.61 with six strikeouts on the night. The sophomore has 55 strikeouts in 76 innings and held the Gauchos to a total of four hits Friday evening.
Senior Tommy Reyes, who totaled seven hits in the series with UC Riverside last weekend for a .636 average, would drive in the winning run Friday evening to extend UCI’s game one winning streak to 29-1.
With stranded base runners early on in the game, it was the fifth inning before the ’Eaters got on the board.
With sophomore Dillon Moyer on base with a leadoff walk, Reyes hit a shot up the third baseline to drive in the run giving the ’Eaters the 1-0 lead.
With one out and a runner on first, senior Jordan Fox hit a line drive into center, prompting a Gaucho gathering on the mound. Followed by a walk issued to freshman Jerry McClanahan, designated hitter Connor Spencer stepped up to the plate with the bases loaded. Spencer delivered with a flare to center to bring in Reyes making it 2-0 Anteaters. The Gauchos would escape the inning after a play at the plate and an out at first.
The two runs proved to be enough as the ’Eaters took the first game of the series.
UCI 2, UCSB 0
With an identical score on May 6, Saturday afternoon, the ’Eaters took the series and improved to a 10-7 record in Big West play and a 26-17 overall record. Senior Crosby Slaught was on fire as he pitched seven shutout innings for a total of 14 scoreless innings on the season.
Slaught totaled five strikeouts with two in the first inning alone and retired 15 straight batters before a UCSB batter hit a triple to deep left-center at the top of the sixth. Slaught made the second out of the inning after fielding a slow bouncer and sending it to Fox at first, after making sure the runner at third would not advance. Slaught intentionally walked the next batter, but loaded the bases after walking batter number five. As the Gauchos posed a big threat, junior Jeff Stephens would end the inning with a diving catch in left field to hold UCSB scoreless after six.
“Crosby [Slaught] was pitching really well, so I just went out there and tried to make plays for him,” Stephens said. In the bottom of the sixth, Fox would take first base after being hit by the pitch to open the second half of the inning. McClanahan would walk and a sacrifice bunt up the third base line from Spencer advanced the runners to second and third. Junior Jeff Stephens proved to be the hero Saturday afternoon with a flare to left center to score Fox and take the 1-0 lead.
“I wanted to get a middle ground ball,” Stephens said. “That’s what we preach all year. I got a pitch up, and I didn’t quite hit it on the ground, but I found a hole.”
Sophomore Jimmy Litchfield took the mound at the top of the eighth when a hit to Fox was misplayed and the runner was safe at first. The Gauchos followed with a bunt up the first baseline, but Fox fielded it cleanly to get the runner out at first. A sacrifice fly would advance the runner to third base, and UCSB was in scoring position. With two outs and a man on third, Litchfield would hand the ball off to junior Race Parmenter who ended the inning with three strikes.
“I knew I had two outs,” Parmenter said. “I wanted him to hit my pitch, I didn’t want to give him a pitch up in the zone to get a hit and score the run because it would have been a tie game. So I threw two of my split-changes which is one of my best pitches, and then I threw two fast balls out of the zone, so it kind of worked out well.”
In the bottom of the eighth, Spencer opened with a walk and pinch runner Justin Castro advanced to second on a passed ball with Stephens at the plate. Stephens would safely reach first on a bunt to put men on the corners.
Junior Scott Gottschling hit a chopper to the short-stop to drive in Castro for a 2-0 lead.
Parmenter would end the game as the final UCSB batter struck out looking.
“I was just trying to throw my best pitches, get outs so they didn’t score, and hold the game until we won,” Parmenter said.
“We knew we had to win because we kind of dug ourselves a grave early in the season, but we don’t really have any more pressure to play with so we’re just getting after it and trying to win every game one at a time.”
UCI 5, UCSB 4
On May 6, Sunday afternoon, the ’Eaters took the third game of the series 5-4 making their fourth sweep of the season to improve to an 11-7 record in Big West play and 27-17 overall.
Santa Barbara scored its first runs of the series in the top of the fourth inning when multiple defensive errors by the ’Eaters allowed two runners to cross the plate. The ’Eaters answered in the bottom of the inning when junior Scott Gottschling doubled with the bases loaded to drive in three runs. Senior Christian Ramirez singled up the middle to score Gottschling for a 4-2 lead.
Both teams would get a run in the fifth and the Gauchos made it a one-run game at 5-4 in the top of the sixth, but was not able to tie it after leaving a man stranded on second in the ninth. Senior D.J. Crumlich would field the last out of the game to secure the win.
Sophomore Jimmy Litchfield earned the win to improve to a 3-2 record for the season. Parmenter would enter on relief, pitching two scoreless innings for the save.