UCSB Blanks Rival Cal Poly 7-0 in Crucial Big West Series Opener

Matt Ager and Nick Oakley Lead UCSB to Victory

Nick Oakley drove in a game-high four runs for UCSB. | Credit: ENTENZA

UCSB second baseman Nick Oakley earned temporary bragging rights over childhood friend and former Santa Barbara High teammate Bryce Warrecker who got the start on the mound for Cal Poly.

Oakley drove in four runs, including a towering home run to right field and UCSB starting pitcher Matt Ager continued his strong play this season  to lead the UCSB baseball team to a 7-0 victory over rival Cal Poly in the first of a three-game Big West Conference series on Friday night.

“Two of my best friends growing up are on Cal Poly. I grew up catching Bryce until probably junior year of high school,” Oakley said. “{Bryce} did great today, but I got a good swing off.”

The Gauchos are in the midst of a  wide open race for the Big West Conference Championship. With only two series remaining for UCSB in the regular season. UCSB (34-16 overall, 17-8 Big West) is currently tied with Cal State Fullerton for first place just percentage points ahead of UC San Diego. The Titans are currently on a seven-game losing streak.

“I can tell you right now we’re playing for our postseason lives. We’re still in the mix for a {Big West} championship one game back,”  said Checketts, who had not yet learned that Cal State Fullerton dropped its series opener to Long Beach State. “We’ve had some opportunities to close that gap and we didn’t take advantage when we had those chances.”

Ivan Brethowr opened the scoring in the bottom of the fourth inning with a solo home run to left-center field. It was his tenth home run of the season.

Oakley followed that up by sending a high fastball from Warrecker over the right field fence, but the UCSB offense went cold after that.

Ager maintained the 2-0 lead, despite tossing 126 pitches and was still sitting in the mid 90s with his fastball in his final inning of work. He has emerged as a key piece of the UCSB pitching staff this season.

“He’s been great all year. He has been a legitimate Friday ace in the Big West,” said Chekcetts of Ager. “His stuff was really good. He threw more pitches there than we would have liked, but his 123rd pitch of the night was 95 so he saved some in the tank for the end there.”

The Gauchos broke the game open in the bottom of the eight. Brethowr doubled down the left field line driving in Jared Sundtrom. Letry McCollum followed with a single up the middle to score Brethowr and Oakley closed the scoring with a double down the left field line with the bases loaded that cleared the bases, increasing the UCSB lead to 7-0.

Hudson Barrett and Sam Whiting each pitched one  scoreless inning in relief for UCSB.

The Gauchos will host Cal Poly in the second game of the series on Saturday, beginning at 4:05 p.m.


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