UCSB Baseball Claims Big West Championship with Victory Over Cal Poly

The 2019 Big West Championship came down to the final game
of the regular season and the UCSB baseball team exacted sweet revenge on Cal
Poly with a 7-0 win on Saturday afternoon.

With the victory, the Gauchos claimed their first outright
Big West title since 1986 and ended Cal Poly’s season, despite dropping the
first two games of the series, which set the stage for the de facto conference
championship game.

Thomas Rowan Lifts the Big West Championship Trophy.

“You couldn’t ask for any more drama than to do it on the
last day after losing the first two games against our rival,” said UCSB coach
Andrew Checketts. “There were a lot of emotions going on as you would expect
from a rivalry game.”

It was Senior Day for UCSB, but freshman lefthander Rodney
Boone stole the show with 8.1 shutout innings on the mound, including 12
strikeouts.

Boone never gave Cal Poly a chance to get going as he worked
a lethal fastball changeup combination to keep the Mustangs off balance.

“We’re all behind each other and
we love each other and it makes it that much easier to trust each other,” Boone
said. “This is phenomenal. I can’t describe it.”

After struggling with breaking ball’s in the first two games of the series the UCSB offense set the tone in the bottom of the first inning. McClain O’Connor led off the inning with a lined drive into left field and Andrew Martinez followed with a single up the middle that bounced off the glove of Cal Poly center fielder Bradlee Beesley, allowing O’Connor to come all the way around to score.

Eric Yang followed with a single
to right field and Armani Smith drove in Martinez with a groundout to second
base, increasing the UCSB lead to 2-0.

The Gauchos tacked on two more runs
in the bottom of the third when Armani Smith singled up the middle to bring
home Martinez after another error by Beesley in center field.  The next batter, Thomas Rowan walked and Tommy
Jew followed with a single that drove in Smith, giving UCSB a 4-0 lead.

“We were able to lay off the balls
in the dirt. We had some at bats get away from us, but for the most part we
were able to lay off the balls in the dirt,” Checketts said. “We’ve been
working on that all week and it took us three games to get there to be able to
really lay off and execute that game plan.”

In the bottom of the fourth inning, O’Connor tripled down the right field line to score Tevin Mitchell from first base. Martinez followed with a sac fly extending UCSB’s lead to 6-0.

Mitchell added a solo homer to
left field in the bottom of the sixth, his fifth of the season, to close the
scoring.

For Boone, a relatively unheralded
recruit out of Tustin High, the seven runs didn’t enter his thought process as
he dominated into the ninth inning before giving way to closer Chris Lincoln
with one out to a standing ovation.

Rodney Boone is mobbed by his teammates upon exiting the game.

Lincoln struck out the first
batter he faced Connor Gurnik before inducing Cole Cabrera into a ground out to
end the game and set off the celebration.

The No. 4 ranked Gauchos (45-9
overall, 19-5 Big West) will learn their postseason fate during the NCAA
selection show on Monday morning at 9 a.m.

The post UCSB Baseball Claims Big West Championship with Victory Over Cal Poly appeared first on The Santa Barbara Independent.

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