Brown’s Two-Homer Game Powers Gauchos to Victory in Regional Opener

UCSB Baseball team wins over Fresno State onMay 31, 2024 (Photo: UCSB Baseball / Twitter)

By UC Santa Barbara Baseball

Jessada Brown had a postseason debut to remember for the No. 14 UC Santa Barbara Baseball team on Friday night, launching a pair of home runs to help the Gauchos out-pace Fresno State for a 9-6 win in their opening game at the Santa Barbara Regional. Aaron Parker added a home run of his own, and Justin Trimble knocked in three runs. The go-to pitching staff of Ryan GallagherCole TrybaJackson Flora and Matt Ager combined to get through the 27 innings, with Ager collecting his school-record-tying 16th career save, the 11th of his season.

FROM HEAD COACH ANDREW CHECKETTS

“Yeah, we were out of character early in the game but turned it around for a nice offensive production by the guys to my left (Brown and Parker) and up on the mound to pick us up,” Checketts said. “If this was two months ago, we probably would have talked a lot longer after the game. I think most of it was just you know, and we were trying to prepare them before the game knowing that there were a lot of people here, there’s a lot of energy and trying to get them to stay focused on playing the game.”

“I think the event was awesome. The amount of time and effort work gets done into being able to host. Our administrators and staff has been fantastic. Really, really neat to see all that stuff lined up. The team played along with us the opportunity community come and rally around us
our administration supporting us in getting ready to do this.”

HOW IT HAPPENED

Brown got things going in the bottom of the first inning, sending his first home run of the night to straightaway centerfield and putting the Gauchos on top, 1-0.

The lead changed hands in the top of the second though. Gallagher had to work around traffic all evening, and after an error prolonged the top of the second, a single back up the middle scored a pair of Bulldogs to give the visitors a 2-1 advantage.

The score stayed that way until the bottom of the fourth, when LeTrey McCollum led off with a single to get the rally going. A walk and a single loaded the bases, then Zander Darby’s lineout to left scored McCollum to tie the game, with a strong throw bouncing off the Gaucho right fielder as he slid into the plate. Brown followed and broke the game open with a three-run shot to left, putting the home side up 5-2.

McCollum kept things rolling in the bottom of the fifth, missing his first career home run by mere inches, settling for a long one-out double instead. Trimble drove him home with a single as McCollum barely beat the throw into the plate.

A double, a wild pitch and a sacrifice fly got the Bulldogs a run in the top of the sixth, cutting the Gauchos’ lead to 6-3 and ending Gallagher’s evening. Tryba relieved him and got the last out of the frame to turn things back over to the Santa Barbara bats. Parker got that lone run back with a solo homer to left, and the Gauchos kept on batting after, stretching their lead. Reiss Calvin, who had replaced McCollum in right field, just missed a home run down the right field line foul, and he was hit by the next pitch to load the bases. Trimble smashed a grounder through the Fresno State infield to score two more runs, pushing the Gaucho lead to 9-3.

A shaky eighth inning gave the Bulldogs three runs, though none of them were earned. Flora relieved Tryba to put out the fire. After Fresno State put runners on the corners in the top of the ninth, Ager came in to replace Flora and got the final two outs on a pair of flyouts.

FROM THE STUDENT ATHLETES

Aaron Parker on his home run: “I wanted to stop being boring tonight,” Parker said, chuckling. “Checks (Checketts) always says take your hit and so when I take my hit, I enjoy it but I got something elevated and he always says when he gets something elevated then you get to try to do what you want to do. And just like he said, it’s half execution half luck and I think I’ll take my 50% luck.”

Jessada Brown on the atmosphere: “I mean, it was crazy here tonight,” Brown said. “I haven’t seen this many people here ever. And, I think, for me it goes back to being able to ride my bike to the field, you know, like being able to host and I just know that everyone here is behind us, in the team.”

BY THE NUMBERS

  • By going 5-for-5 at the plate on Friday, Aaron Parker made it three games in his last four without getting out. Between the final regular season series and Friday’s regional opener, Parker is 17 for his last 18, with four doubles and two home runs.
  • The crowd of 2,110 fans on hand at Caesar Uyesaka Stadium Friday sets a new ballpark record. The Gauchos set the old mark of 1,537 in the regular-season finale last Saturday.
  • Matt Ager’s save on Friday night, his first in the postseason, was his 11th in 2024 and the 16th of his career. That career mark matches Alex McRobbie and John Minton for the most in Gaucho history.

UP NEXT

UC Santa Barbara returns to action in the winner’s bracket of the Santa Barbara Regional on Saturday, June 1 when they take on Oregon. First pitch from Caesar Uyesaka Stadium is set for 7 p.m. Tickets will go on sale at 9 a.m. on Saturday on ucsbgauchos.com. The game will also be live on ESPN+ with an audio broadcast and live stats available through ucsbgauchos.com.

UCSantaBarbara

Written by UCSantaBarbara

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