CBB: Clark does damage for UCSB vs. Shockers

WICHITA, Kan. – The last four hitters of No. 14 UC Santa Barbara’s lineup, led by junior third baseman Ryan Clark’s career-best four-RBI day, combined for seven hits while driving in eight runs to steer the Gauchos to a series-winning 8-0 victory in Sunday’s rubber match against Wichita State at Eck Stadium.

After going scoreless through the first innings of the contest, the Gauchos pushed across three runs over the fourth and fifth innings, chasing WSU left-handed starter Sam Hilliard from the game in the process. UCSB then pounced on the Shockers’ bullpen to the tune of a five-run inning in the seventh, putting the game away for good.


While the Gauchos’ offense did its part, southpaw starting pitcher Justin Jacome performed his duty in excellent fashion as well, surrendering just four hits over six shutout innings. The Redlands, Calif. native was as deceptive and commanding as he has been in a UCSB uniform, striking out eight just two starts after his career-best 10-punchout performance against Oregon on Mar. 1.

With the win, Jacome moved to 3-1 on the year. All three of UCSB’s weekend starters, righties Dillon Tate and Shane Bieber being the others, are sitting on three victories following the series.

Clark’s seventh-inning home run, the first of his career, was the offensive highlight of the day for the Gauchos and was the death knell for a Wichita State team that had a chance to hand UCSB its first non-conference road series loss in over two years after winning Friday’s opener.

That roundtripper was the coup de grace in UCSB’s big seventh inning. The frame started innocently enough, with a leadoff flyout being followed up by a Robby Nesovic single up the middle. Pinch-hitter Billy Fredrick then took a base on balls, and Nesovic was then able to score on a Scott Quinlan sac fly after he stole third during the UCSB right fielder’s plate appearance.

With two out and one on, it looked like Gauchos might be through for the inning, but a Peter Maris base hit into right field put runners on the corners and marked the end of the day for Shockers reliever Tyler Jones, who made way for right-hander Chase Williams.

Williams received quite the rude welcome from the Gauchos, as senior catcher Campbell Wear greeted him with a run-scoring single into left field. Clark then stepped up and put a charge into Williams’s 1-0 offering, sending it over the left field fence and putting the Gauchos up 8-0.

It was the second big hit of the day for Clark, who also knocked out Hilliard with an RBI double into right-center in the fourth inning. Wear had just preceded Clark in the run-scoring department with a sac fly that scored DH Dempsey Grover for the eventual game-winning run.

Quinlan added an RBI triple in the fifth as part of the Gauchos’ offensive.

Conversely, the Shockers struggled to create offense against Jacome, as they never got a runner even as far as third base.

Their best chance to score came in the sixth, when Tanner Kirk and Mikel Mucha singled back-to-back to open the frame. UCSB’s 6-6 lefty then rolled up a big double-play ball off the bat of Daniel Kihle before striking out Chase Rader to end the threat.

The home team fared little better against the Gauchos bullpen, as lefty Domenic Mazza and righty Alex Garcia combined to throw three shutout innings while allowing just two hits.

Mazza, available out of the bullpen as there was no midweek game, had to pitch out of a bases loaded, no-out jam in the eighth. He fanned Kihle for out number one before Ryan Tinkham lofted a not-deep-enough fly ball into right field. Rader was caught looking on strike three to end another inning, as the WSU third baseman left five runners on base in the contest.

Having completed their longest road swing of the season, the Gauchos will now spend their next three weekends and 11 of their next 12 games at home. UCSB will kick off that stretch with four games this weekend, a tilt against Texas-Arlington on Friday, a split doubleheader with UTA and Dartmouth on Saturday, and then a final contest against Dartmouth on Sunday afternoon.