UCSB starter Andrew Vasquez and the Gaucho bullpen teamed up to hold the USF Dons to just four hits on Sunday afternoon, earning a 2-2 split in the four game series with a 6-2 victory on a picture perfect day at Caesar Uyesaka Stadium. With the win, UCSB moves back over .500 with a 4-3 record, while USF slipped to a 3-5 overall mark.
Vasquez earned his first win of the season with an improved performance that saw him give up just one hit with seven punchouts over 5.1 innings pitched. His outing was not without drama however, as the sophomore lefty issued six free passes and hit a pair of batters.
The Rancho Cucamonga native cruised through the first three innings, allowing just two baserunners, but had to escape jams in both the fourth and fifth innings. The former began with a leadoff single from USF’s Derek Atkinson. After a wild pitch and a passed ball, Atkinson was able to reach third base. Two strikeouts and a hit batsman later, the Gauchos were able to end the inning by successfully reading a double steal play with runners on first and third, as second baseman Woody Woodward quickly returned catcher Jackson Morrow’s throw in time to beat Atkinson at the plate.
In the fifth, Vasquez got two quick outs, but then had his command escape him. He would walk the bases full, and then hit a batter to force in a run. USF cleanup hitter Zachary Turner failed to further damage the Gauchos, as a 2-2 backdoor slider from Vasquez locked him up for an inning ending strikeout.
Vasquez’s control problems continued into the sixth, as he walked the leadoff hitter Mitchell Rowan. After inducing a flyout from Brendan Hendriks, Vasquez was lifted in favor of senior right hander Jared Wilson, who gave up a pair of hits before picking off shortstop Josh Miller at first base. Freshman righty Dylan Hecht came in to close the door on the rally, throwing 1.1 innings of hitless ball less than 24 hours after his impressive performance in the second game of Saturday’s doubleheader.
Sophomore third baseman Peter Maris was responsible for driving in all three of the Gauchos early runs, hitting a one-out sacrifice fly with the bases loaded in the second inning and then driving in two more with a double to right-center in the fourth inning. Maris also contributed with the glove, making a pair of impressive plays in the field, including a snare of a sharply hit line drive off the bat of Miller with one out in the fifth.
The Gauchos would create some much needed seperation in the bottom of the seventh, when Morrow and sophomore center fielder Cameron Newell hit back-to-back singles to lead off the inning. An opposite field double from junior shortstop Brandon Trinkwon would plate Morrow, while a pinch-hit double from Luke Swenson would cash in the other two runners.
Freshman righty Connor Baits and sophomore lefty Greg Mahle would team up to shut the door on the Dons offense in the eighth and ninth innings, allowing just one hit and no runs between the two of them. Both relievers also struck out one batter.
In the win, Woody Woodward continued his impressive series with a 2-4 performance, giving him a 6-11 line for the series. The Glendora, Calif. native leaves the series with a team-high .529 batting average.
UCSB’s season-long nine game homestand will continue this week when they host No. 2 UCLA (4-2) on Tuesday afternoon at Caesar Uyesaka Stadium. First pitch is slated for 2 p.m. This weekend, the Gauchos will welcome San Jose State for a three game series from Friday through Sunday.