Austin Bush and Ryan Cumberland might have already stamped their names in the UC Santa Barbara Gauchos baseball record books for future teams to admire and follow, but the Turlock natives' goals are far from over — as they are chasing a national title.
Already in the final eight of the Division-I NCAA college baseball tournament, the Gauchos' sense of accomplishment should feel, well, fulfilled, but their will to continue to play until the end seems to be unmatched for the team that just knocked off the No. 2 team in the nation in the Super Regionals.
“Absolutely, we definitely want more, we want to get the national championship,” said Bush. “What we've done has been surreal but our goal is not over and now we look to grind and push the upcoming weekend.”
After Bush blasted a homer in Saturday's game, that included snapping the Louisville Cardinals' 22-game home win streak, the momentum seemed to gravitate over to the Gauchos who then went on to shock the college baseball world on Sunday in a dramatic ending.
Down 0-3 in the bottom of the ninth inning, in the second game of the best-of-three, and an All-American closer in Zach Burdi on the mound for Louisville, the Gauchos freshman catcher Sam Cohen came in to pinch hit with bases loaded and one out.
With all the pressure on him, the freshman blasted a 1-2 changeup from the 2016 first round draft pick inside the right field foul pole for walk-off grand slam that stunned the Cardinals, 4-3, and clinched the Gauchos a spot in Omaha for the College World Series for the first time in school history.
“We didn't expect this... not really because we thought it might be a rebuilding year and we kind of just wanted to shock the nation. I think it's kinda cool so far what we've been able to do,” said Bush about earning a spot in the College World Series.
The Gauchos were able to creep into the postseason after finishing conference play with a 13-11 record and 42-18-1 overall.
In their opening game against Washington, Bush homered and the Gauchos defeated the Huskies from the Pac-12 in a close 3-2 decision.
The next round was against an Xavier team that seemed determined, but the Gauchos were able to squeeze out a 5-4 win behind another Bush homerun.
Bush followed back-to-back games with homers and slammed another in the Gauchos second win to eliminate Xavier in a 14-5 final.
Bush homered once more in the first win over Louisville and the rest is history.
“I don't think I've done much differently but been working on it as the year has been going, just get the next guy on and have quality at bats and I have done a better job at that,” said Bush.
The Gauchos (42-18) will begin tournament play today against Oklahoma State (41-20) at noon. The game will be shown on ESPN 2.
Bush hit four homers in Saturday's penultimate game that was followed with their miraculous come from behind win in a walk-off grand-slam that became the improbable win for the Cinderella team that knocked off the No. 2 team in Louisville.