Big Innings Lift UC Santa Barbara to Opening-Round Win
SAN DIEGO -- Behind a pair of explosive innings and a strong outing from ace starter Shane Bieber, UC Santa Barbara posted an 11-4 win over No. 22 Kentucky in the opener of the Tony Gwynn Classic, on a perfect Friday afternoon at San Diego State’s Gwynn Stadium.
Kentucky (2-2) fell behind early after the second inning, with UCSB adding a run in the fourth and breaking open the game in the fifth inning with a four-run frame. The Wildcats rallied with three runs in the seventh and a run in the ninth for the final margin.
Bieber helped handcuff the Southeastern Conference’s leading offense early in the season, limiting UK to seven hits. Luke Becker and Marcus Carson each added two hits, with Zach Reks, JaVon Shelby and Gunnar McNeill each charting singles. Evan White went 3-for-5 to lead the UK offense.
UK starter Zack Brown (0-2) worked 4.1 innings, allowing six runs – four earned – walking three and striking out four. A native of Seymour, Ind., Brown worked a perfect first inning on just seven pitches, before the Gauchos exploded for a lead they wouldn’t relinquish in the second inning.
Sophomore lefty Brad Schaenzer came on in relief with runners on the corners and one out in the fifth inning. Schaenzer allowed a pair of runs with two hits and a walk, before freshman lefty Daniel Tillo took over for his NCAA debut. Iowa’s Mr. Basketball, Tillo worked two innings, allowing five hits and two runs – one earned – striking out three. Freshman lefty Josh Smith took over in the seventh, getting a pair of outs. Senior Dylan Dwyer worked the final two innings, getting two strikeouts.
Bieber (2-0) – the preseason Big West Pitcher of the Year – worked 6.1 innings, allowing seven singles and three runs, not issuing a walk – while facing just two three-ball counts – striking out five. Kenny Chapman came on in relief, getting an out, before ace reliever Kyle Nelson retired four of the five hitters he faced to escape the jam.
UK will return to action on Saturday, playing in the second round of the Tony Gwynn Classic against the loser of the Bryant-San Diego State first-round game.
The Gauchos (5-1) opened the scoring in the top of the second, as Billy Fredrick pulled a 1-0 offering from Brown down the rightfield line, with Fredrick motoring to third on a triple. Michael McAdoo then grounded a ball up the middle, allowing Fredrick to score for a 1-0 lead. McAdoo, who reached on an error, took second on a wild pitch and moved to third with one out, scoring on Clay Fisher’s RBI groundout. Ryan Clark then singled through the right side, with Rowan sliding in before the tag for a 3-0 lead.
UCSB added to its lead in the fourth inning, as Austin Bush doubled to rightfield to leadoff, taking third on a wild pitch. After a pair of outs, Clark singled into left-centerfield on a 1-2 offering, scoring Bush for a four-run lead.
In the fifth inning, a pair of walks, and two steals from JJ Muno, put runners on the corners with one out, prompting a pitching change. Schaenzer walked the first hitter he faced, allowed a two-RBI single up the middle and a RBI single to right-centerfield. Rowan then doubled into the left-centerfield gap, scoring McAdoo.
Bush belted a solo homer to lead off the seventh, a massive homer over the centerfield 410-foot sign. Fisher then reached on an error, scoring on Clark’s double off the wall in leftfield.
In the seventh inning, UK got on the board as McNeill, Becker and Carson singled to lead off. Riley Mahan then lined a sacrifice fly to leftfield to score McNeill from third base. Zach Reks and Shelby each worked bases-loaded walks to score a pair of runs.
A two-out double from Muno in the ninth, scored Andrew Calica for an 11-3 lead.
Kole Cottam led off the ninth, reaching on a fielding error. White scored Cottam with a double into the right-centerfield.