ACU traveled out west to face the Gauchos of UC Santa Barbara for a weekend set, losing two out of three.
ACU’s hot start was halted last week, beginning with a big loss to TCU, and losing two of three to UCSB. In the first two games, UCSB silenced ACU hitters outscoring the Wildcats 13-1.
In the first game, sophomore starter Austin Wagner took the loss, allowing four runs on five hits including a big three-run third inning. He fell to 1-1 on the season. Freshman right-hander Johnnie Krawietz entered the game in the fifth and allowed one run, followed by freshman Austin Glaze who finished the final three innings.
The Wildcats were baffled by Gauchos starter Rodney Boone, who went 5.1 innings and earned the win for UCSB. Freshman Hayden Clearman and juniors Seth Watts and Colton Eager were the only three Wildcats to get a hit on the day, with Eager ripping a double in the sixth inning. Defensively, ACU allowed five errors and the Gauchos took advantage with nine hits.
Game two featured the Wildcats patience at the plate, drawing seven walks but could not capitalize on their opportunities outside of their third inning run. The Wildcats fell in game two, 6-1, but forcing UC Santa Barbara to use six pitchers on the night.
For ACU, Hayden Clearman, batting .467 up to that point, belted a one-out triple to center, scoring on a Cameron Cromer groundout. This cut the Gauchos’ lead in half, 2-1, but they could not get any closer after allowing one run in both the fourth and fifth inning, and two more in the eighth.
ACU were hit with some bad luck in the later innings, as a double play squandered a scoring threat in the seventh inning with runners on the corners and one out. In the eighth, after UCSB allowed two walks and a passed ball put runners in scoring position, a fielder’s choice got the Gauchos out of trouble. The Wildcat’s struck out 15 times on the night, with four hits and seven walks.
ACU finished out the series with a victory over UCSB, carried by sophomore starting pitcher Nate Hawkins and a ninth inning rally. Hawkins went 4.2 innings in a no-decision, only allowing one unearned run in the first inning.
That would be the only run the Gauchos would push across until the ninth inning. The ninth inning was busy for both squads as ACU pushed across five runs, and UCSB answered with three. Senior Eric Wimpee came through with his biggest hit of the season for ACU, ripping a three-run double in the final frame.
Junior Tommy Cruz, Colton Eager and sophomore Mitchell Dickson setup Wimpee’s clutch hit with a leadoff walk, infield single and a hit by pitch. Freshman Miller Ladusau followed with an RBI single of his own, driving in pinch runner Seth Watts, with Ladusau scoring on a passed ball later in inning.
The Wildcats looked to close out the ninth unscathed, but following a leadoff walk, single and fielder’s choice, Head Coach Rick McCarty went to his bullpen.
Sophomore right-hander Colby Adkins came in and got the first out on a ground ball but got into hot water when he allowed a two-run single up the middle, closing the gap to 5-4. Adkins followed with the two fly outs and earned the save for ACU.
ACU finished the series at 5-3 on the season. They head back home for a three-game set against Youngstown State beginning on Thursday. First pitch is at 6:35 pm.