Zander Darby launched his fourth home run of the season against Cal State Northridge on Sunday. | Credit: ENTENZA

Coming off a ninth-inning collapse on Saturday, the UCSB baseball team bounced back to defeat Cal State Northridge 14-5 in the finale of a three-game series on Sunday afternoon at Caesar Uyesaka Stadium.

The Gauchos took two of three games from the Matadors in the weekend series and improved to 17-4 overall and 5-1 in Big West Conference play.

“I thought the response today was the right one. We came out aggressive. We came out determined, and we were getting our swings off,” said UCSB head coach Andrew Checketts. “We put a good plan together with the guys, and they were able to go out and execute.”

UCSB starting pitcher Tyler Bremner had a solid start and set the tone of the game by striking out the side in the top of the first inning. Bremner held the Matadors scoreless through the first three innings as the Gauchos jumped out to a huge lead.

Christian Kirtley got the scoring started in the bottom of the first inning with a two-out solo homer to right field. Jared Sundtrom followed that up with a two-run homer to right-center field in the bottom of the second inning that put the Gauchos on top 3-0.

Jared Sundstrom connected for two home runs on Sunday.

UCSB exploded for six runs on five hits in the bottom of the third inning beginning with a solo homer by Zander Darby. After LeTrey McCollum walked with the bases loaded, driving in Kirtley, Nick Oakley singled up the middle to bring home Sundstrom and Broc Mortensen.

Corey Nunez and Ivan Brethrowr also picked up run-scoring singles in the inning as the Gauchos increased their lead to 9-0.

Cal State Northridge got on the board with one run in the top of the fourth, but UCSB scored four more runs in the bottom of the fourth to go ahead 13-1, highlighted by Sundstrom’s second home run of the game, a massive two-run shot to straightaway center field.

“In the first at-bat, I got a two-strike fastball and hit it hard. In the next at-bat, it went back to a full count again, and I just saw a slider up,” Sundstrom said. “Everyone on the roster could be in the lineup and it wouldn’t matter. I’m just trying to make the most of my opportunities and stay in the lineup as long as I can.”

The Matadors broke through for three runs on Bremner in the bottom of the fifth, shrinking the deficit to 13-4. Kevin Fitzer went two-for-four at the plate and drove in three of Cal State Northridge’s five runs.

Bremner (3-1) picked up the victory, but seemed to struggle with back-to-back long waits in the dugout due to UCSB’s scoring outbursts. He was one out away from allowing one run in five innings on the mound, but ended up surrendering four runs.

“I thought he set the tone for the day when he came out and struck out the side in the first inning,” said Checketts of the freshman starting pitcher Bremner. “He’s talented; he’s got a chance to be really special. I think he’ll figure it out in games like this to make sure he’s ready to go and doesn’t fade a little bit there.”

UCSB will step out of Big West Conference play to take on a strong Fresno State team next weekend. 


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