UC Santa Barbara’s magical run comes to an end after falling to Arizona, 3-0, in a College World Series elimination game at TD Ameritrade Park in Omaha, Neb., in front of 22,133.
Arizona improves to 46-22 with the win and the Gauchos conclude the year with a 43-20-1 record and a 1-2 mark in their first College World Series. The team’s 43 wins against Div. I opponents are a school record, bettering last year’s mark of 40 which was the previous high.
After two scoreless innings, the Wildcats jumped on the board first with a three-run rally that was kicked off with a Cody Ramer single. Zach Gibbons earned a free pass to move Ramer to second before Bobby Dalbec would pop up to center field, advancing Ramer to third. Ryan Aguilar also belted a sacrifice fly to center field, sending Ramer home to give the Wildcats a 1-0 lead. With the first pitch of the next at-bat, Jared Oliva cleared the left field fence to add two more insurance runs to the Wildcats’ lead. JJ Matijevc would be tagged out at first to end Arizona’s rally.
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In the bottom of the fourth, Kelly issued a walk to the first batter which resulted in Trevor Bettencourt relieving him on the mound. Bettencourt, who didn’t let the grand stage effect him, was stellar in his first College World Series game, striking out seven and allowing just one hit in final 5.0 innings. Kelly (3.0IP, 7H, 3ER, 2K) would eventually be handed the loss, falling to 2-1 on the season.
“I kind of made a plan that after my warmup pitches I was going to take a deep breath and look around the stadium and kind of embrace it,” commented Bettencourt. “Every time I couldn’t help but smile to know that situation was that intense yet I could look around and just feel lucky to be here. It was cool. It was fun. I’m still not able to grasp it yet. I loved it.”
The Gauchos struggled to find any offense today. Three times UC Santa Barbara hit into a double play to end any potential rally. The best opportunity to score came in the ninth inning as Clay Fischer opened the inning with a double to left center. Devon Gradford was walked to bring power-hitter Austin Bush to the plate as the potential tying run, with no outs. Unfortunately Bush was the first of three consecutive players to strike out swinging, leaving players stranded on first and second to end the game.
JC Cloney earned the win after allowing five hits in 7.0 innings and Cameron Ming (2IP, 1H, 3K) was credited with the save.
The Gauchos spent 22 days on the road as they swept through the Nashville Regional and Louisville Super Regional before coming to their first-ever College World Series. During its postseason run, UC Santa Barbara knocked off both No. 2 Louisville and No. 3 Miami.
“When people go home, they get a little emotional,” mentioned Head Coach Andrew Checketts. “And I promised myself I wouldn’t. But for these kids to get us here to get this opportunity for our program, it’s unique. And at the end of the game we went out there and met, all I could do was thank them, thank them for their effort, thank them for their hard work, thank them for their commitment, thank them for representing our university the right way, thank them for playing hard.”