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Saturday, November 17 , 2018, 2:50 pm | Fair 67º

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Gauchos Capture 8-7 Win Over No. 14 Long Beach State

Senior Tisha Duran breaks UCSB's single-season home run record.

The UCSB softball team bounced back from a pair of losses on Saturday and defeated Big West Conference foe No. 14 Long Beach State 8-7 in a conference series closer on Sunday at Campus Diamond. During the game, senior Tisha Duran broke UCSB’s single-season home run record after hitting her 13th of the season over the left-field fence in the second inning.

Long Beach State, which captured the lead in the Big West standings on Saturday after winning the first two games of the series, falls to 33-12 overall and 9-3 in league games with Sunday’s loss. The Gauchos improve to 25-20 overall and 8-4 in conference contests.

The first six batters on Sunday went down in order before Long Beach’s Jennifer Griffin opened the second inning with a solo home run over the left center-field fence to put the 49ers ahead 1-0.

Duran responded with her record-breaking home run at the bottom of the same inning, tying the game. Duran, who also set a new Gaucho single-season RBI record on Saturday, broke Lindsey Herrin’s 2005 record of 12 homers in a season with her 13.

At the bottom of the third inning, senior Nicole Churnock led off with a double to left center field, and a bunt single from junior Christine Ramos on the next play put a pair of runners on the corners. Ramos then stole second before a sacrifice fly to left field by sophomore Jessica Ziegler brought Churnock home and gave the Gauchos their first lead of the weekend. Junior Tiffany Wright singled during the next at-bat, driving Ramos home and stretching the lead to 3-1.

At the bottom of the fourth, Long Beach State hit three consecutive singles to load the bases. A fourth single to third base by Lacy Tyler brought Brooke LeSage home to cut the Gaucho lead to 3-2.

Bridgette Pagano followed with a fielder’s choice, and Griffin was called out while trying to cross home plate. The Gauchos were ambitious and tried to beat Pagano to first, but an overthrow by the catcher gave Danielle Linke ample time to come home, once again tying the game, 3-3.

Franciska Morlet hit an RBI single through the right side, sending Tyler home and regaining the lead for Long Beach State. Jessica Beaver followed with a single of her own, allowing Pagano to score. A fielder’s choice during the next play ended the inning and the Gauchos trailed, 5-3.

The lengthy inning stretched on in the bottom half as senior Ericka Hansen led off with a single straight up the middle. One out later, sophomore Priscilla Perez walked. Churnock grounded out during the ensuing at-bat, but moved both base runners in the process, putting two runners in scoring position with two outs.

The Long Beach left fielder failed to catch a pop fly hit by Ramos, allowing her to reach first and both Hansen and pinch runner Jackie Conlin to score, once again tying the game, 5-5. Still with two outs, Ziegler took a pitch to the helmet before Wright hit a double to left field, bringing two more runs home. Wright advanced to third on a throwing error during the same play, then scored when Duran hit an RBI single to shortstop during the next play. At the end of the inning, UCSB held an 8-5 lead.

Long Beach would not go down easily. With one runner on and one out in the top of the fifth, Linke hit a two-run homer over the center-field fence, putting the 49ers within one at 8-7. The Gauchos made a pitching change from MeLinda Matsumoto to Tami Weston, and despite allowing two more base hits in the inning, they escaped without further damage.

With the exception of an intentional walk at the top of the seventh, the remainder of both teams’ batters went down in order as the Gauchos held on for the 8-7 victory.

Wright led the Gauchos at the plate, going 2-for-3 with three RBIs and a run. Duran was also 2-for-3 with her home run and two RBIs.

In the circle, Matsumoto captured the win (7-8) after tossing 4.1 innings and allowing seven earned runs on nine hits with no walks and no strikeouts. Weston captured her first career save after pitching the final 2.2 innings and allowing no runs on two hits. She walked just one and struck out two batters.

Pagano (12-8) took the loss for the 49ers after pitching the final three innings and allowing five runs (none of which were earned) on three hits. She walked one and struck out four. Brooke Turner pitched the first three innings and allowed three earned runs on four hits with one strikeout.

The Gauchos will continue Big West action on the road this week at UC Davis. The three-game series will begin with a noon doubleheader on Saturday at the Aggies’ La Rue Field.

Lisa Skvarla is UCSBs assistant media relations director.

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