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Gauchos Perfect in Big West with Sweep of Cal Poly

Homers fly out of Campus Diamond in first game, while UCSB relies on pitching and defense in second.

UCSB’s softball team posted a pair of wins over defending Big West Conference champion Cal Poly in a doubleheader Saturday at Campus Diamond. The Gauchos opened the day with a 7-6 win over the Mustangs before posting a 5-1 victory in the latter half of the twinbill.

With the wins, UCSB improves to 22-14 overall and 5-0 in Big West play while Cal Poly drops to 15-15 and 3-2 in conference.

In the first pairing of the day, Cal Poly was the first to get on the board in the top of the third inning when, with two outs, Melissa Pura walked. After she stole second, Sarah Iwata hit the first of four Cal Poly home runs to put the Mustangs on the board, 2-0.

In the bottom of the same inning, senior Ericka Hansen led off with a homer to make it 2-1. With one out, junior Christine Ramos reached on an error by the Mustangs’ first baseman and sophomore Jessica Ziegler singled to put two runners on. During the next at-bat, junior Tiffany Wright hit a first-pitch home run to give UCSB a 4-2 lead.

Cal Poly got even in the next inning when Cristina Brox hit a two-run homer, tying the game, 4-4. The next six batters went down in order before UCSB got its chance to regain the lead.

In the bottom of the fifth, with one runner on and two outs, Wright singled to center field. An error during the play allowed her to reach second and sent Ziegler home, putting UCSB ahead, 5-4. Tisha Duran, a senior from Ventura College and Buena High, singled during the next at-bat, sending Wright across home plate and spreading the advantage to two runs.

Solo homers by Krysten Cary in the sixth inning and Pura in the seventh tied the game for the Mustangs , 6-6.

In the bottom of the seventh, the Gauchos returned to the top of their order. Ramos was hit by a pitch and advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt from Ziegler. The Mustangs then intentionally walked Wright, which seemed to be a wise move when Duran reached on a fielders’ choice and Wright was called out at second base during the ensuing at-bat. Unfortunately for Cal Poly, during the same play Ramos advanced to third and, during the next at-bat, she scored on a wild pitch, earning the 7-6 win for the Gauchos.

Wright led the team in the win with her 2-for-3 performance, including a home run, a run and three RBIs. In the circle, Lindsey Correa (10-4) pitched a complete game, allowing six runs on seven hits with six walks and three strikeouts.

Cal Poly’s Anna Cahn (5-7) took the loss after throwing 6.2 innings and allowing seven earned runs on six hits with one walk and six strikeouts. The Mustangs ended the game with four errors while the Gauchos committed none.

UCSB kept its momentum rolling into the second game. With two outs in the bottom of the first, Duran hit an RBI single up the middle to drive home Ziegler and put the Gauchos on the board, 1-0.

Junior pitcher Tami Weston and the Gauchos defense were stellar in the first three innings as they held the Mustangs hitless and retired the first nine batters in order. Cal Poly broke through in the top of the fourth. Cristen Lee led off with a single to left field and was bumped over to second with a sacrifice bunt from Stephanie Tam.

Back-to-back singles from Pura and Iwata loaded the bases before Stephanie Correia hit an RBI single up the middle. The Gauchos earned the second out of the inning during the same play when a long throw from center field to the catcher cut off Pura before she reached home. A fly out to center field during the next at-bat got the Gauchos out of the inning with the 1-1 tie.

The Mustangs posted one hit and the Gauchos got two in the fifth inning, but the tie remained until the bottom of the sixth. Wright led off with a single up the middle and then stole second before Duran reached after being hit by a pitch. Freshman Jessica Beristianos then reached first on a fielder’s choice, loading the bases.

A fielder’s choice during the next play earned the first out of the inning for Cal Poly, but three Gauchos still remained on base. Senior Danielle Meyers was brought in to pinch hit and with a 1-2 count, she singled to right field, bringing home a pair of runs. Hansen followed suit with an RBI single during the next at-bat, stretching the UCSB lead to 4-1.

One out later, Ramos singled to left center, driving home the final Gauchos run and giving UCSB a comfortable 5-1 lead heading into the final inning.

After earning the first out of the seventh inning on a fly to right field, Weston walked Cahn. Pinch runner Brandi Gutierrez was picked off during the next at-bat for the second out. But Weston had lost her rhythm and walked three straight batters before MeLinda Matsumoto came on in relief. Lee grounded out to the pitcher, ensuring the Gauchos’ 5-1 victory.

Ramos led the Gauchos in the effort with a 3-for-4 showing at the plate, but Meyers’ two RBIs in the sixth sealed the win. In the circle, Weston pitched 6.2 innings with just one run on six hits with four walks (all in the seventh) and two strikeouts. Weston improves to 8-2 on the year.

Cal Poly’s Helen Pena took the loss after pitching 5.1 innings and allowing five runs on eight hits with one walk and three strikeouts.

UCSB hosts Cal Poly in the series finale at noon Sunday.

Lisa Skvarla is UCSBs assistant media relations director.

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