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Zach Torra got a lot of offers as to where to play baseball in 2020, but it was pretty much of a foregone conclusion that he would choose UC Santa Barbara.

"UC Santa Barbara was my first choice," Torra, a left-handed pitcher who graduated from Santa Ynez High School, said last week.

"They have a quality program, they always get a lot of players drafted (in the Major League Baseball draft), and this year they had 10 players drafted."

Torra, a Cuesta College sophomore, said he got a full ride, two-year offer from UCSB. Torra pitched for Hancock College his collegiate freshman year then pitched for Western State Conference North Division rival Cuesta in 2019.

The Cougars finished 22-16, including 11-9 in the WSC North. They lost to No. 3 Riverside City College in the first round of the Southern California regional. Torra went 5-5 with a 2.57 ERA for Cuesta.  

Tommy Rowan, a teammate of Torra's when the two were at Santa Ynez, was one of the 10 UCSB Gauchos who went in the 2019 MLB draft. The Miami Marlins selected Rowan in the 20th round.

Torra, who was a sophomore then, pitched Santa Ynez to a 2-0 win over Sun Valley Village Christian in the 2014 CIF Southern Section Division 5 championship game.

Rowan was a senior that year. The team's ace the year before, Rowan was injured in the first game of the season and underwent Tommy John surgery.

Santa Ynez coach Warren Dickey subsequently praised Rowan as being a team leader, and a sort of de facto coach for the pitchers that season. Rowan was a mainstay for a 2019 UCSB team that won the Big West Conference title, it's first Big SWest title in 33 years, and qualified for the NCAA regionals.

Torra said he got a call from the Los Angeles Dodgers' organization, but he decided he would play college ball at least one year.

"The Dodgers did call," said Torra. "It was nothing official. I didn't get picked (in the draft) or anything.

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"I kind of just figured, with the way the draft was going, I kind of knew ahead of time that I was going to go to UCSB and try to improve my (prospects to get drafted). My dad (Rick Torra) has only a 30-minute drive from home to see me play there. He's real excited about that."

Zach Torra said, "It's definitely a possibility to go for a draft spot next year. That's what we're going for, obviously what we're shooting for."

Though his offer is for two years at UCSB, "I hope to get drafted after one year, after I get another year of seasoning under my belt," said Torra.

Torra pitched for the Derby (Kansas) Twins during summer ball in 2018. Derby is a Wichita suburb.

Derby made it to the 2018 National Baseball Congress World Series. "We did OK," said Torra. "We were in kind of the loser's bracket because we didn't get a good seed.

"We went 2-1. Another team in our bracket went 3-0, so they advanced. I started the third game. We won. I went six innings and gave up one run."

Several other schools, including UC Irvine, San Jose State, Nevada and UConn, made offers to Torra, but, "UCSB was always my No. 1 school," Torra said.

Zach Torra said he will not be pitching in summer ball this year.

"I pitched around 85 innings this year, and the UC Santa Barbara coaches recommended me resting and getting ready for next season."

Torra will major in sociology at UC Santa Barbara.    

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Sports Reporter

Kenny Cress, sportswriter for the Santa Maria Times since September of 2000. BA in political science from Cal Poly Pomona. BA in journalism from Cal State Northridge.