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Saturday, February 23 , 2019, 4:11 am | Fair 39º

Sports: A Noozhawk Partnership with Santa Barbara Athletic Round Table, The Lab, and American Riviera Bank

Gauchos Pick Up Pair of Wins in Riverside

UCSB sweeps doubleheader in Big West opening weekend.

Junior Tiffany Wright went 6-for-8 with two home runs and four RBIs as the UCSB softball team opened its 2008 Big West Conference schedule with a pair of wins Saturday at UC Riverside, 7-6 and 6-2.

With the wins, UCSB improves to 19-14 on the season and 2-0 in Big West games; Riverside falls to 14-21 and 0-2.

In the day’s first pairing, Wright went 5-for-5 with a home run, an additional run and two RBIs. Freshman designated player Katie McWhirter also had a strong showing, going 3-for-5 with a run and an RBI.

In the circle, Lindsey Correa improved to 9-4 on the season after pitching seven innings, allowing six earned runs on seven hits with eight walks and four strikeouts. Sophomore MeLinda Matsumoto pitched the final inning of the game and gave up just one hit while striking out one.

After a scoreless first inning, McWhirter singled to right field with two outs in the top of the second. A wild pitch allowed her to move to second before sophomore Priscilla Perez hit an RBI double to right center field to put the Gauchos on the board, 1-0.

In the top of the third, junior Christine Ramos led off with a bunt single and was followed by sophomore Jessica Ziegler‘s sacrifice bunt, which put her at second with one out. Wright’s home run over the center field fence gave UCSB two more runs. McWhirter’s RBI double brought Tisha Duran, a senior from Ventura College and Buena High, across home plate to give the Gauchos a 4-0 lead.

Nicole Churnock‘s RBI single in the fourth and a bases-loaded hit by pitch in the fifth stretched the Gauchos’ lead to 6-0.

The Highlanders did not give up, though, and in the bottom of the fifth, April Murray singled with one out and then stole second. The next batter walked and Marissa Alvidrez then singled to right field, loading the bases. The Gauchos earned the second out of the inning on a fielder’s choice before Kristie Martinez singled home two Riverside runs and a third run scored on the play to cut the UCSB lead to 6-3.

In the bottom of the seventh, the Highlanders loaded the bases with two outs before Taylor Thomas doubled to left field sending home three runners and tying the game, 6-6.

In the top of the eighth, Wright singled through the left side and advanced to second when Duran grounded out to the third baseman. Freshman Jessica Beristianos’ RBI single broke the tie and put the Gauchos ahead 7-6 heading into the bottom of the inning.

Matsumoto came in to pitch for Correa in the bottom of the eighth and, after allowing a single, the Gauchos took down the next three batters fore the 7-6 win.

In the second game, Churnock went 2-for-3 and three Gauchos — Duran, Perez and Wright — each homered in the victory. Junior Tami Weston improved to 6-2 on the season after pitching a complete game, allowing two earned runs on five hits. She allowed three walks and struck out three.

After a scoreless first inning, UCSB loaded the bases in the top of third, but a series of fielder’s choices helped the Highlanders to get out of the inning unscathed.

In the bottom of the second, Kameryn Hebenton hit a sacrifice fly to left field to send home Thomas and put Riverside ahead, 1-0.

The Gauchos would not let their conference foes hold the lead for long. Ramos led off with a single in the third inning before stealing second. Wright’s second home run of the day put the Gauchos ahead 2-1 during the next play.

In the fourth, Martinez responded with a solo homer of her own, the only Highlanders hit of the inning, to tie the game, 2-2.

After a scoreless fifth, Perez homered over the right field fence to regain the lead for UCSB. In the top of the seventh, Danielle Meyers walked before Wright was hit by a pitch, putting two runners on base. With no outs, Duran homered over the left field fence to stretch the Gauchos’ lead to 6-2. UCSB held on through the bottom of the inning and captured its second win of the day.

The Gauchos close out the series with UC Riverside at noon Sunday.

Lisa Skvarla is UCSBs assistant media relations director.

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